Doggy paddle: Swimming lesson with a difference in The Mere
Long before Beethoven drooled onto the big screen, St Bernard dogs were famous for an entirely different reason – saving lives.
And this weekend Hugo the St Bernard was out practising his life-saving skills in the Mere in Ellesmere.
Hugo is part of a Chester-based group called NorthWest Giants who provide agility, carting and water rescue training for all giant breeds.
Susie Jump, one of the organisers of the training session, said: “We are a fun training group who specialise in giant breeds.
“We have been training in the Mere since May. It is fantastic and we love it. It is such a beautiful location.
“It is difficult to find a venue where we can train so we are very grateful. We love coming back to the Mere to train.
“The dogs can learn skills such as finding a stranger and pulling a boat.
“They could use these skills in a real life situation but that is not why we train. We do it for fun and the dogs love it. These are working dogs so they really enjoy getting out into the water to learn.
“It also helps to build a great relationship between dog and handler.”
Susie said the training session in the Mere at the weekend was a great success.
She added: “Hugo is brilliant. He is a superstar. The session went really well.
“As well as water rescue we also do agility, nose work and carting.
“Anybody can join as long as they have a giant breed which includes Newfoundland, Great Dane and Irish Wolfhound.”
The St Bernard was originally bred at the Great and Little St Bernard Pass for rescue. The breed has become famous through tales of alpine rescues, as well as for its enormous size.
The St Bernard was bred to be a working companion and is an amiable yet hard worker. St Bernards have retained their natural ability for scent work and depending on the skill of the trainer and the talents of the dog, St Bernards can participate in tracking events or even become involved in search and rescue work. For more information about the group, search NorthWest Giants on Facebook.