Beacon and Buoy are on duty at Scarborough Beach State Park, where they’ve been hired as lifeguards. They assist human lifeguards during emergency rescues, tugging both guards and swimmers back on shore.
As park manager Greg Wilfert explained to News Center Maine’s Jackie Mundry last year, the human lifeguard is the first to enter the water when a swimmer needs help. Another human lifeguard follows with a dog and some floating rescue equipment. Once the swimmer has been helped onto the floating device, the dog goes into action, helping to tug everyone to safety.
“They can tow a boat—they’re very strong swimmers,” Wilfert said.
They were trained by the American Academy of Canine Water Rescue, a Massachusetts-based organization that instructs breeds like Newfoundlands and Labrador retrievers to rescue people who are in trouble in the water. The organization is happy to show these handsome heroes off on its Facebook page:
Beacon started working at the public beach last year and is helping to train 11-month-old Buoy this year. Wilfert told News Center Maine that Newfies are unusually good swimmers — and they don’t doggie paddle, either. He explained that they use “almost a kind of breaststroke” and that their “mouth shape also allows water to filter easily in and out through the sides of their jaw.” Wilfert posted a recent photo of Beacon on his own Facebook page:
Beacon and Buoy are filling a vital need. Over the decades that Wilfert has lifeguarded at the state park, he says over 1,000 water rescues have taken place. But it’s rare to find a lifeguard who sticks around for more than a few years.
“With kids going to college now, your second year, you’re interning,” Wilfert told the news channel. “You only get them three years of high school and two years of college, so there’s a lot of turnover.”
But Beacon and Buoy won’t be going off to college. Once they’ve received their training, they’re loyal workers for life. Maria E. Gray, the president of the American Academy of Canine Water Rescue, helps to train the dogs. And the dogs clearly love her — here are some Facebook photos she recently posted:
And here, Wilfert has posted a video on Facebook of the dogs doing their jobs:
This is how legends are made, indeed. Good job, Beacon and Buoy!