Monday, September 29, 2008
Bilbo The Lifesaving Newfoundland Is Back!
"Bilbo's Back, Doing What He Does Best, Helping Keep Holidaymakers Safe On The Beach"
"BILBO, the United Kingdom's only doggie lifeguard, is to be used to promote beach safety in West Cornwall.
"The RNLI and Penwith District Council have asked the Newfoundland dog and his owner, lifeguard supervisor Steve Jamieson, to spend the summer highlighting safety messages and responsible dog ownership in schools, and at dog friendly beaches.
"Bilbo will also make guest appearances on Sennen beach twice a week now that agreement has been reached between the beach owners, the RNLI and Penwith District Council.
"Mr Jamieson said: 'I'm delighted that Bilbo and I will be able to promote the beach and sea safety messages, which aim to change people's attitudes and behaviour through education.' Bilbo loves visiting schools to help promote beach safety advice, such as the importance of swimming between the red and yellow flags, and he will enjoy twice weekly visits to Sennen beach to meet the public.
"If anyone does get into trouble on Sennen beach, they can rest assured that the team of highly trained RNLI lifeguards will be on hand to help, and they work with the local RNLI lifeboat crews at Sennen Cove to provide a seamless beach-to-sea rescue service.
"There is a full complement of RNLI lifeguards stationed at Sennen beach between May and September, and of course the volunteer crews are on call year-round. Arthur Roberts, head of operational and technical services and deputy chief executive of Penwith District Council, said: 'We are happy to unveil a project for Bilbo that will benefit everyone, including people who visit Penwith each year. Bilbo's dual role, promoting beach safety and responsible dog ownership, will support the aims of both the RNLI and Penwith District Council.'
"In particular for the council, Steve and Bilbo will be able to encourage responsible ownership of dogs. That will protect the wishes of the members of the public who choose to visit dog friendly beaches.
"Bilbo and his owner Steve Jamieson will be on Sennen beach on Sundays and Thursdays between the hours of 2pm and 4pm to meet the public when Steve will discuss sea and beach safety messages."
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When we hear phrases such as "dog friendly beaches", it really raises our ire, because more and more right here at home, what were once never even questioned to be "dog friendly beaches" have become the staging areas for bureaucrats and fascist-conservationists to launch anti-dog campaigns. And so we found the following comment on Bilbo's plight to be quite apt:
Says Saffron Elliott:
"Bilbo has been put through special fitness tests like other lifeguards, such as learning how to swim in all types of sea conditions, negotiating the different surf and swim out beyond the breaking waves - Bilbo does this with skill and confidence. Bilbo has been trained to recognise when a person is in distress in the sea and responds if someone is waving and shouting for help. He wears an harness onto which is clipped a buoyancy aid (a Peterson tube). This is a piece of equipment used by all lifeguards to rescue casualties. Between Bilbo and the rescue tube is 2 meters of line which acts as a safety measure to stop the casualty from climbing onto the lifeguard during the rescue, but instead it enables Bilbo to swim around the person in distress, drawing the tube close to them, and when he feels their weight clutching the tube he knows its time to turn round and swim back to the safety of the beach.
"Red tape, beaureacracy, and arguably the apathy of those large organisations in control of the situation, are conspiring to deny Bilbo his rightful place on Sennen beach as a lifeguard dog. Whilst people want to see him reinstated and back patrolling the beach, and they expect to see him there this summer, such popularity and sentimentality over Bilbo should not shadow the more serious issue that Bilbo represents - he informs about safe bathing at the beach and his message truly sinks into the minds of children and adults who come across him, and if this isn’t argument enough to reinstate Bilbo, then we are living in poor times indeed in this so called liberal democracy. Purging Bilbo from patrolling the beach seems more akin with the sort of thing our nation supposedly abhors - autocratic dictatorial styles of governing, where everything is systematised so the mighty power at the top can exercise total control over its subjects. Getting rid of Bilbo is yet another erosion of the preciousness of our nation's diversity, putting prescriptive measures in place that conveniently apply to all situations in all places, conveniently obliterating common sense and the beauty of diverse ways of operating, to suit the needs of the might of one big controlling organisation, rich, powerful and geared towards total control and limiting the extraneous factors that might run counter to their bigger game plan.
"So Bilbo in his innocence and with all his natural beauty and instinctive life saving skills, is merely an inconvenience to the power of the mighty organisation that seeks to get make him disappear off Far West Cornwall’s busy Atlantic beach. We are living in sad mundane times indeed, and edging closer and closer to Orwell’s ‘1984’ scenario, where streamlined systems are worked by ‘yes men’ automatons and there is no place for human thinking and common sense, as we are dictated the convenient logic of the overriding power. This may seem odd, but we’re arguably all being manipulated to conform, and losing Bilbo is a true sign of the times, and will be a great loss to the spirit and soul of the beach - and is this not valuable and worthy of fighting for?"
Indeed, it is worth fighting for. We urge the dog groups right here in the Bay Area to stop sitting back and letting the GGNRA and city and state agencies ban our dogs from our beaches under spurious claims of environmental protection. You would think that local Newfoundland groups would do something worthwhile and get behind the anti-dog-on-beach movement, but they seem to have their collective heads in the sand. Dogs (particularly life-saving dogs) belong on the beaches. If you think otherwise, consider what you might be thinking when you are drowning and there are no human lifeguards around.