• Welcome to ScubaBoard

  1. Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

    Benefits of registering include

    • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
    • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
    • You can make this box go away

    Joining is quick and easy. Login or Register now by clicking on the button

Can someone explain the Water Rescue Dogs?

Discussion in 'Rocky Mountain Region' started by boulderjohn, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    I have taught scuba classes at Chatfield Reservoir a number of times over the years. This weekend was my first time this year, but it brought to mind something that has been puzzling me all that time. Yesterday, as in almost all cases on Sundays, we were joined in the normal scuba area with water rescue dog training. That means that the whole time we are working in and around the water, there are dogs being trained to make rescues in that water. That means there are people running around in the water calling for dogs to help them. That means there are people in kayaks calling for dogs to pull them to shore. That means there are people in rowboats calling for dogs to come out and pull them to shore. That means the dogs that are not currently doing the training sit in their crates barking loudly but plaintively at the other dogs while we are nearby trying to talk to our students. All the muck on the bottom is stirred up, helping destroy the visibility, and it is a distracting noisy mess.

    Of course, they have just as much of a right to the area as we do, so I can't complain. I am just hoping someone who knows more about this than I do can help me understand what this is all about. My understanding of the purpose and use of these dogs is limited to what I logically conclude from watching the training. No one with knowledge has ever explained it to me. I will therefore describe how things must work when they complete their training, according to what I see. If anyone can straighten out my understanding and tell me when and where the graduates of this training are employed, I would appreciate it. Here are some scenarios I assume must be anticipated by this training.

    1. Someone in a row boat, small motorboat, or kayak loses oars, motor functions, or paddles while within 50 feet of shore. Not wanting to get wet arms from paddling in with the hands, the boater looks around for an unleashed water rescue dog lolling about on shore. He calls the dog by name and asks for help. Once the dog arrives, the boater tosses the end of the special leash these dogs use to tow boats, which he always carries with him for just such an emergency. The dog takes the special hot dog shaped soft end of the leash and pulls him in, saving the boater from the horror of wet sleeves.

    2. Someone swimming by a beach that is not patrolled by a life guard but is instead patrolled by an unleashed water rescue dog begins to drown. The swimmer splashes violently and in a panic, fearing for his or her life until spotting the water rescue dog. The drowning swimmer, greatly relieved, calls the dog by name and asks for help. The dog dutifully swims out, whereupon the drowning swimmer tosses the end of the special leash dogs use to tow in drowning swimmers, which he or she always carries while swimming for just such an emergency, and is pulled to shore. [Apparently the trainers have not read this: Instinctive drowning response - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. It pretty much says that no one drowning can do anything remotely like that.]

    Anyway, since Sunday scuba training sessions at Chatfield are routinely disrupted by this activity, I would like to know that putting up with that disruption is serving a noble cause. Any information on the number of rescues these dogs have effected over the years, where it is happened, where they are stationed (etc.) would be highly appreciated.
  2. g2

    g2 Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Port Townsend, WA
    I think I detect a bit of snarkiness somewhere in there. I will call a ScubaBoard Rescue Dog to pull you away from the computer. Oh wait, you need to call it.
  3. Doubler

    Doubler Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives:
    Location: Bremerton, WA
    Welcome to the Newfoundland Club of America: Water work
    Newfoundland Dogs also Known as St Johns dogs have been used as water rescue dogs for hundreds of years. They have an outstanding record of saves and the modern version is trained to jump from helicopters for rescues. In our club or resident Newfy, Baxter, has titles in obedience, tracking, protection and rescue. Most of these dogs are smarter that your average scuba instructor.
    weezieharris likes this.
  4. JohnN

    JohnN Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Oar--eee---gun
    I'm skeptical, can you provide a documented case of a water rescue by a dog?
  5. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    Well, I just used Google to find out more about this.

    There are organizations that train dogs for rescue, just as you see at Chatfield weekly. These dogs can be certified at different levels, and they enter competitions.The web sites of the organizations that train them brag about how skilled the dogs are, but I don't find many (any, actually) examples of their trained dogs doing any actual rescues. Apparently they just enter competitions.

    This Wikipedia site about Newfoundlands says that the breed (commonly used in these competitions and training) seems to have a natural propensity to saving humans in the water, and they cite the following examples:
    So they claim there as many as 5 rescues in the last 2 centuries, however, I did some research and learned that
    • The Napoleon story is a total crock--he left the island with 1,100 soldiers and had no near drowning incident, with or without a dog.
    • The dog's role in the 1828 incident was to retrieve a rope in the water so that the humans could pull the sailors to safety.
    • The primary source of the details of the 1881 incident is an account given by the descendants of the dog's owner, 130 years after the incident. According to those details, the dog made a number of efforts to save the drowning man, but the actual rescue was made by a human.
    • The report of the dog's actions in saving the SS Ethie is highly controversial. There were no mentions of any dog being involved in the initial reports, and the later reports came from unreliable sources and contradicted each other on what the heroic dog supposedly did. Some think it is a total fabrication.
    • I cannot find a single story about the 1995 incident outside of web sites devoted to extolling the nature of Newfoundlands.

    OK, maybe there has been one. If so, the dog was not trained for it and did not use the approved leash.
    knotical likes this.
  6. nimoh

    nimoh Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Rochester, MN
    I was interested in your post up until the sentence in bold. Now I wonder what other part of your post is excessive exaggeration.
  7. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    Sounds like a canine solution to a swimming skills problem.
    Bob DBF likes this.
  8. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    And equipment--don't forget to take your leash.
    Lorenzoid likes this.
  9. BigBubbaJ

    BigBubbaJ DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Colorado, USA
    It's clearly just a hobby for folks...probably builds a bond with the dogs. Why not just dive Aurora? I've not found Chatfield worth it much anyways...
  10. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    When you are instructing, you have to do it where your shop has set things up with insurance, etc. We do not have permission to instruct at Aurora. Maybe next year.

Share This Page