Swimmers at beaches across Lazio and Sicily don’t have to fear — for Baloo is here!
Baloo is a 4-year-old Golden Retriever who has been trained to retrieve something very special: swimmers in danger. Just like a human lifeguard, Baloo is trained to patrol the beaches and rescue people who are in need of saving.
Baloo’s dad, Simone Filesi, decided to start training Baloo as a puppy due to his love for the sea. Now, he regularly patrols the beach with a unit of other pups who help keep swimmers safe while they’re out on the water.
“I would trust Baloo with my life,” Filesi told Daily Mail. The presence of the dog unit on the beach is very important especially for children and teenagers. For example, if I warn a young person that the sea is rough and Baloo is with me, it totally changes the reception of that warning of how dangerous the sea can be.”
While Baloo is all business out on the beach, he is very patient and playful when it comes to children. He loves people — something that makes his job that much more important.
“Baloo is an extremely playful and obedient character,” Filesi said. “He is very sociable and patient with children — especially with my daughter who teases him a lot! I knew there was something special about him when I got him as a puppy, and as we began training him, I knew he would love to engage in an activity and so I chose to train him as a lifeguard dog. The bond that has been created between us and the warmth that we receive from people on the beach repays all the sacrifices that we make.”
While out on the beach, Baloo is very observant and knows when someone may be in trouble. His instincts kick in sometimes before his dad’s, Filesi said.
“He follows me and is able to understand emergency situations, sometimes even before me,” Filesi said. “On a day with rough seas, he won’t enter alone, but is willing to put his life in danger at the cost of following me and intervening. He trusts me and I trust him”
On his daily rounds at the beach, Baloo wears a special harness that has handles on it to allow people to grab onto him easily if they need help in the water. He’s made dozens of rescues, and beachgoers are ever grateful for his efforts to keep them safe.
Baloo and his dad are part of a patrol unit of different lifeguards and their canine companions. They do it all as volunteers.
“When we intervene with our dogs in a dangerous situation, we are the first to reach the person in difficulty, but then the dog helps us to bring the person back to the beach by making them grab onto the handles on their harness,” Filesi said. “It’s very hard work but very rewarding for Baloo. He really enjoys it.”