A big brown Newfoundland named became a mainstay at Sennen Cove in Cornwall for more than a decade together with his owner, Steve Jamieson. Both of them worked as lifeguards in the area, saving dozens of swimmers from drowning.
Bilbo, the fluffy Newfie, endeared himself not only to locals but also to visitors from all over the world. Tourists from far-flung places such as the US and Australia traveled all the way to Cornwall just to see Bilbo and have a souvenir photo taken with him.
Bilbo originally belonged to Steve’s boss, who brought the then 14-week-old puppy to work, delighting everybody. The energetic puppy was friendly to the lifeguards, but he took a particular liking to Steve.
The lifeguard, in turn, also had a soft spot for Bilbo, but that was that—the Newfoundland was his boss’s pet, nothing more.
Image credit: Bilbo Jmo on Facebook
A few months later, however, Steve and Bilbo’s relationship went deeper. Steve visited his boss’s house to hand over some documents when he discovered the canine in the garden, sitting sadly by himself.
As soon as Bilbo spotted Steve, he ran over and tried clambering over the fence to meet his old buddy. The lifeguard thought it would be a great idea to care for Bilbo whenever his owner was at work, and Steve’s boss agreed.
Eventually, the boss realized that the Newfie would be better off with Steve, so he asked if he could take in Bilbo.
Steve accepted on the condition that they allow Bilbo, who was one year old by then, to be at his side all the time—that meant he would be bringing Bilbo to the beach and the office. Since then, the gentle giant was never alone again.
Newfoundlands have rightly earned a reputation for being outstanding swimmers, and Bilbo was no exception. Seeing the dog’s potential, Steve started training him for water rescue work.
After passing his swimming and fitness tests, Bilbo became an official lifeguard and joined the beach patrols at Sennen Cove.
When the Royal National Lifeboat Institution took over the administration of the beach, however, it ruled that Bilbo could no longer continue practicing as a canine lifeguard.
Despite the outrage from thousands of people, the organization remained firm about its decision, and Steve decided to resign.
He and Bilbo retired to a charming hut on a cliff, spending their days taking leisurely walks and relaxing. Even if they no longer went to the beach as it incurred unpleasant memories, people continued to visit Bilbo.
Thus, it came as no surprise that animal lovers and fans from across the globe were saddened to hear of Bilbo’s passing at 12 years old and commiserated with Steve, who was devastated.
Still, the man takes comfort in the fact that the Newfie lived a happy and fruitful life with him. To honor Bilbo’s memory and service, Steve wrote a book chronicling the dog’s journey and achievements.
Watch Bilbo swimming with Steve here:
Source: BBC Earth on YouTube