Lifesaving SA welcomes its very first canine subsidiary
Lyric and his handler, Stanley Faul, outside the Bluewater Bay Surf Lifesaving Club. Photo:CANDICE BEZUIDENHOUT
FOR Lyric the Labrador, being a guide dog is just one of his many hidden talents. Recently, on World Drowning Prevention Day on July 25, Nelson Mandela Bay’s Lyric also made history by becoming the country’s first dog to be affiliated with Lifesaving South Africa, at an event at the Bluewater Bay Surf Lifesaving Club.
Residents may soon be on the lookout for dogs in red and yellow harnesses, as this is the first step towards training dogs to become lifeguards.
Six-year-old Lyric will join his handler, Stanley Faul, who suffers from an eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa, with awareness campaigns focusing on water safety.
As part of Lyric’s affiliation with Lifesaving South Africa, she will be the eyes and ears of rescuers in areas they cannot immediately see.
She will patrol the beach to check for people swimming outside the perimeters and alert lifeguards when someone is in trouble in the water.
The last step will be to train her to become a lifeguard herself by entering the water and rescuing a person in difficulty.
When introducing Lyric to the club, Lifesaving South Africa also hosted over 100 learners from schools around the bay to teach children about water safety.
A mock rescue was also carried out, in which a swimmer landed “struggling” in the water and had to be “rescued” by lifeguards and loaded into an ambulance.
Faul said it took two years to train Lyric as a guide dog and helped him lead a normal life.
“She’s flown over 300 flights, more than I think most people do, and she’s been with me everywhere I go whether it’s for business or personal reasons,” he explained.
“She understands most of what she is told and asked of her and would respond using her actions.”
He added that Lyric’s affiliation with Lifesaving South Africa could mean a lot and have a real impact on reducing drownings in Nelson Mandela Bay and the rest of the country.
“Lyric is my eyes and protects me in dangerous situations, but can you imagine if Lyric was trained only to save me after an incident? Only after I walked into something or after I walked past a car?
“No. What would be much better is to have a companion who could prevent the accident before it happens and that is the purpose of his participation in the rescue team,” he said. -he declares.
Yes, lifeguards are there to help save you and keep you safe, but Lyric’s job would be to really, really prevent drowning,” Faul said.