Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Bilbo, The Lifesaving Newfoundland Dog
(From the Cornish Guardian, 27 February 2008 (cornwall.co.uk))
"Bilbo - Britain's only canine lifeguard - is used to being a legend on his own beach in the Westcountry.
But now the 14-stone chocolate Newfoundland, who helps to patrol Sennen Cove in Cornwall, is getting ready to be immortalised in print.
Books featuring the lifesaving dog's own shaggy tale are about to hit the stands.
Children's author Janeta Hevizi, who lives in Sennen, put pen to paper after being inspired by the gentle giant's seemingly global popularity.
She said: 'He has fans all over the world. People write to him and send him presents.
I sometimes think he is the reason that so many people come back to Sennen Beach - the first thing they want to see is Bilbo. I had been meaning to write his story for a while, then I just woke up at 2am one morning and started writing.'
The True Story of Bilbo, the Surf Lifeguard Dog, was written by Ms Hevizi, with help from Bilbo's owner Steve Jameson.
It tells the story of how the once-fluffy puppy found his true calling saving lives at Sennen Beach.
Most importantly, said Ms Hevizi, it was a chance to get across Bilbo's message of being safe while on the beach and swimming in patrolled areas marked by flags.
'The story tells how Bilbo came to be allowed on to the beach, where dogs are normally banned, and how Steve realised that Bilbo could help people be safe. (Emphasis supplied.)
Bilbo has a great message for people, that they should be safe and just swim between the flags. When it comes from him, people seem to take notice.'
Mr Jameson, head lifeguard at Sennen, said he was 'adopted' by Bilbo when he was a puppy nearly five years ago.
'They say dogs decide who their owner is and I think that was the case with Bilbo. He used to belong to the beach manager, but we seemed to form a bond.'
By the time Bilbo was two, he had started going out with Mr Jameson to check on the buoyancy devices on coastal footpaths.
It was then that Mr Jameson realised Bilbo could really enhance the campaign to promote safe swimming - when he took the loveable dog to schools, children would sit up straight and pay attention.
'It was completely different. Before I took Bilbo, the kids would be fidgeting and whispering, but when I started taking Bilbo, they would really pay attention and when I went back the next time, they would remember everything.'
Bilbo, garbed in his specially made lifeguard uniform, was specially trained to help people in distress in the water. Despite their size, Newfoundlands around the world are used in rescue work.
Last summer, Bilbo hit the national headlines when he prevented a holidaymaker from going into dangerous waters.
The True Story of Bilbo, the Surf Lifeguard Dog, is published by Cornish Cove, £5.99. For a copy, contact 01736 871425."
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Every year, at Ocean Beach alone, there are deaths from people caught in the riptide and undertow. Instead of embracing and using water rescue dogs, the GGNRA and National Park Service do not provide a single lifeguard at this beach. Their goal is to eliminate dogs altogether from the beaches. After a drowning occurs, they simply tell people not to swim there, even on days when they know people will be in the surf due to warm temperatures.
This is a sad commentary on the management of beaches in the San Francisco Bay Area. There is much these despots can learn from the story of Bilbo.
Satch & 'Drew