Each summer I’ve worked with dogs and owners to enjoy our local waters safely. There are several reasons you might wish to attend this activity: learning to swim or overcome fear of the water, pool safety, simulate rescuing “drowning” victims, toy retrieving or just plain playing in the water with other dogs.

Every Friday, weather and tide permitting, dogs weighing over 35 pounds (size exceptions are puppies and dogs that will be larger when fully grown and would like to learn to swim or small breeds that live in homes with pools) descend on local beaches, pools, rivers, ponds, creeks and the like. They learn to get out of a pool without panicking, a very important skill in an environment where dogs drown each year by accidentally falling in and not knowing how to exit.

The work portion of the class is dedicated to teaching certain types of dogs how to rescue people that are drowning by allowing their haunches to be grasped and pulling the victim to shore or taking a life preserver in their mouths and pulling in the victim.

The more difficult skills such as taking other items in their mouth and pulling a boat in by a rope can be really fun to watch. Retrieval of a paddle and bringing it back to the boat, dock diving, underwater retrieval – such skills can be learned with relish by all kinds of dogs.

These are not all Newfs, Labs and Goldens as you might think but plenty of mixed breeds too. Some are too small to pull a boat but will still retrieve and romp with their buddies.

We are blessed to be surrounded by water; summer offers us a great excuse to get in the water with our dogs.

Sessions are always held after 4 p.m. and as late as 7 p.m. on Fridays in different locations in Hilton Head, Bluffton and Okatie. The get-togethers are fun and free, however a donation to an animal rescue group of your choice is much appreciated.

The first session will be held at 5:30 p.m. June 2. For more information on equipment needed to join the class, times and locations, email ajbird@hargray.com. You must email to be included on the weekly mailing list to find out the time and location as they are not published.

On weeks when passes are needed, signup is required and may be limited.

Abby Bird is owner of Alpha Dog Obedience Training. ajbird@hargray.com