BOCA RATON, Fla. – For many South Floridians, fishing, diving, snorkeling and swimming are all pretty popular pastimes -- for people. But what if your dog took part in these activities, too?
Local 10 News animal advocate Jacey Birch found two local dogs who love to dive for anything. Alex Schulze can be found out on the water near the Boca Inlet cruising with his two dogs, Lila and Maverick, front and center scoping out the waters from the bow of the boat.
Lila tends to be the alpha dog, with absolutely no water worries, and she is itching to do much more than just doggy paddle.
"She's just looking. She's ready to dive. She's looking for any kind of contrast, anything in the water," said Schulze.
With a desire to dive, the pups are panting as the anchor sinks and they wag their tails, ready to swim. The dogs can dive to a depth of 15 feet, much more impressive than most humans. But this is not just a party trick or a game of underwater fetch, not even close.
Schulze had to teach the lobster-loving Labradors to hold their breath and dive deep.
"It was very difficult," said Schulze. "It took me about two years to train them fully to catch lobsters. The hardest part for the dogs was to train them to use their back legs and get their momentum to go down."
That’s right, these dogs are diving for their trainer's seafood dinner.
"I thought one day, what is the coolest thing I could do? And that was to train them to catch lobsters," said Schulze.
The Labrador retriever breed is known well as water dogs, hunters, retrievers, and they can easily be taught to duck hunt or in this case, lobster dive. And now these pups are pros at picking up crawling critters off the ocean floor.
But while these 6-year-old canines to have impressive skills, there is a method to this madness. Their trainer and owner built a business named Devocean, as in devotion to the ocean. That devotion is saving sea turtles at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton.
"We donate 20 percent of our net profits to sea turtle and ocean conservation programs," said Schulze. "We work directly with the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, as well as the FAU marine research lab."
Thousands upon thousands of protected and endangered sea turtles are rescued, rehabbed and released back into the wild in our local waters. So the next time you take your own dive into the ocean, the real treat will be to see some of the sea turtles that Lila and Maverick helped swim their way to survival.
Interested in training your dog to dive? Click here.