Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Amazing Water Dogs to the Rescue!


Action shot from the 2nd Water Rescue Dogs Cup of Poland, which occurred in Gdansk on June 11, 2016. Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Image
Action shot from the 2nd Water Rescue Dogs Cup of Poland, which occurred in Gdansk on June 11, 2016. Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Image

This June the seaside Polish city of Gdansk saw some unexpected mammals hit the waves. Gdansk hosted its second Water Rescue Dogs Cup, and photographer Michal Fludra was there to capture the action. The dozen or so lifesaving dogs in the competition had to pass a test of obedience and rescue a person from the waves of the Baltic Sea.

Here are some shots of the canine competition, and check out a video of one heroic dog in action after the pictures:

This participant gets a taste for the line he'll be using to pull to tow his "victim" in.
This participant gets a taste for the line he'll be using to pull to tow his "victim" in.
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Image
Checking out the competition.
Checking out the competition.
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Image
And he's off!
And he's off!
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Image
The dog spots the person who needs rescuing.
The dog spots the person who needs rescuing.
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Image
This "victim" is conscious and appears to be helping the dog by hanging on, but some water dogs are trained to rescue unconscious victims as well.
This "victim" is conscious and appears to be helping the dog by hanging on, but some water dogs are trained to rescue unconscious victims as well.
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Image
Success!
Success!
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Image

As you can see, some dogs are pretty good at water work. After all, they'veĀ been doing it for centuries. Whizz, a Newfoundland water dog, saved 10 people and a fellow dog during his decade-long career monitoring the Bristol Channel and River Severn in England. Here's a video of Whizz on the job:

Newfies are the classic water dog with their big muscles, waterproof coat, webbed toes and unique stroke that is decidedly not a doggie paddle, note the writers at the American Kennel Club. They've been keeping sailors company on ships as far back as the 18th century, the AKC says. Portuguese water dogs and Labrador retrievers often take to this kind of activity, too.

Although certifications for water work will vary by country or organization, here's a taste of what a water dog par excellence can do: rescue multiple people, rescue an unconscious victim (either by grabbing onto his or her life jacket or by taking the victim's arm or hand in a gentle but firm hold), and search for and beach a stranded boat.

Interested in learning more? The Newfoundland Club of America has a good site to get you started.


More to Explore