Visitors to Scarborough Beach State Park this summer got to see a new face in the lifeguard station: Beacon, a Newfoundland puppy who’s being trained by owner and perennial lifeguard Greg Wilfert and other lifeguards to help save lives. 

“It is another tool to use with the lifeguards,” said Wilfert, who celebrated his 50th season lifeguarding at the popular beach. “She won’t go in on her own to make rescues, she will go in with a lifeguard, and when she gets to the people in the water, they will grab onto her vest and she will pull them in.”

Wifert said Beacon will grow to 120 to 130 pounds, when she will be ready to assist in lifesaving measures, which may not be for another year or two. “Usually we average probably 16-20 rescues a year,” he said. Wilfert plans to continue Beacon’s training in the offseason and build on the basic training she received from the lifeguards this summer. 

“I think the people have been really receptive of seeing her here,” Wilfert said. He had to get clearance from the state and from Maine Audubon to have her on the beach near the protected areas of nesting piping plovers.

“The key component is getting her to understand that she has a job.”

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