Investigating the healing powers of dogs.
The Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs works in association with the country’s other rescue services to assist bathers in trouble. These canine lifeguards must undergo intensive training with their handlers, learning how to swim long distances, pull dinghies with their teeth and even jump out of helicopters. Using their extraordinary abilities, these dogs save over 20 lives a year. The hounds are primarily Labradors, Newfoundlands and golden retrievers, but no breeds are excluded – as long as they meet a specific weight requirement. Extraordinary Dogs follows the Italian canines as they and their handlers are trained in helicopter-based rescue techniques.
In New Zealand, specially trained rescue dogs are employed to search for missing people across the country, from the snow-capped mountains of the South Island to the hot pools of Rotorua Numerous fault lines traverse the countryside, including the large Alpine Fault. Regular tremors combined with notoriously unpredictable weather conditions make the risk of structural collapse in New Zealand real and constant. In preparation for such a disaster, rescue dogs are rigorously trained in the mountainous regions. In order to make the grade, pooches and their handlers must undergo a stringent screening process.
Finally, Extraordinary Dogs joins musher Clemens Bittendorfer and his team of Alaskan huskies as they take part in Australia’s only snow-based sled dog race. During the race the dogs pull two-to-three times their own bodyweight. Clemens and his team have been racing for over six years and are yet to lose a race. With the pressure to maintain this record, the stakes are high – how will they perform?