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:
As you can see, some dogs are pretty good at water work. After all, they've 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.