Nico the Bernese mountain dog was rescued from a shelter just two months ago. Now he’s done some rescuing of his own — pulling two swimmers to safety after they were caught in dangerous rip currents off the Southern California coast.
Three-year-old Nico sprang into action when he heard a woman on a boogie board calling for help at a beach in Ventura. The current was sweeping her away from shore.
Nico’s owner, Dan Clarke told KTLA-TV, “He went right out to her, right up to the side of the boogie board….I just said, ‘Grab him anywhere you can.”’
The unidentified woman grabbed onto Nico’s neck, and the big dog brought her back to shore.
The woman’s husband had tried to get to his wife, and become trapped in another rip current that was dragging him out to sea.
Nico raced back into the water, swam out 100 yards and brought the husband back to dry land, too.
Bernese mountain dogs aren’t known as great swimmers. But, being bred for farm work in the Swiss mountains, they are a strong breed. And Nico’s efforts against the rip tides shows just how strong they are.
Rip currents are powerful, narrow currents that can move at eight feet per second, faster than an Olympic swimmer. They can sweep people far away from shore and exhaust swimmers who try to fight the current. 100 people die every year in the U.S. after being caught in rip currents, says the U.S. Lifesaving Association.
Fortunately for the couple, the Herculean dog acted on pure instinct, having never been trained as a life-saving dog.
Clarke, himself a former lifeguard, was surprised by Nico the most. “First I’ve seen him do anything like this,” he said.
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