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Dog with nine lives; That's how many people Whizz the water rescue expert has saved (plus one pooch).

Byline: NICOLA FIFIELD

LIFEGUARD Whizz stands 6ft tall, weighs 12 stone and counts David Hasselhoff among his friends - but he's not some Baywatch wannabe.

The black-and-white Newfoundland is one of Britain's longest-serving water rescue dogs, saving nine people and another pooch during a 10-year career.

His exploits have already earned him The Hoff 's admiration and the actor was once honoured to meet his canine hero.

But Whizz could now win even greater plaudits after being nominated for the Rescue Animal of the Year gong at the Daily Mirror's Animal Hero Awards.

Proud owner David Pugh, 58, said: "Whizz is a phenomenal dog. I just wish I could bottle him up and keep him for ever."

Whizz, 11, started his impressive career patrolling the Bristol Channel and the River Severn with the Royal Navy Reserve in Swansea and the Severn Area Rescue Association.

Newfoundland dogs use breaststroke rather than doggy paddle and, while they are not the fastest of swimmers, their large lung capacity helps them cover extreme distances. Owner David, who lives near Portishead in Somerset, said: "I'll never forget one of Whizz's rescues off Oxwich Beach in Wales.

"Two young children had floated out to sea on an inflatable dinghy while their parents weren't watching.

"Whizz was able to rescue both children at the same time. Their parents were so, so grateful - the children wouldn't be alive today without him."

One of the doggy lifeguard's most famous rescues came in 2007 when he saved an Irish setter named Topper, who had fallen into a large water tank.

Whizz instinctively sensed trouble and dived in to help the struggling pet without being told. And although he is retiring from lifeguard duties, Whizz also visits children's hospices and helps youngsters learn to swim through David's charity Newfound Friends.

Now the gentle giant is waiting to find out if his exploits will allow him to get his paws on an Animal Hero Award.

The glittering ceremony in London on October 21 will celebrate amazing creatures - and some human friends.

And there's still time to make your nominations. nicola.fifield@trinitymirror.com OUR AWARDS CATEGORIES Hero Animal of the Year Caring Animal of the Year Public Service Animal of the Year Rescue Animal of the Year Young Animal Enthusiast of the Year Vet of the Year Outstanding Contribution to Animal Welfare RSPCA Superstar Outstanding Business Award Special Recognition Award Lifetime Achievement Award How to nominate for Animal Hero Awards By Post: Animal Hero Awards, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5AP.

Online: Submit your nomination by visiting the Animal Hero Awards website: www.

animalheroawards.co.uk.

All nominations need to be submitted no later than Friday, September 11. The winners will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony hosted by Amanda Holden at 8 Northumberland Avenue in Central London on Wednesday, October 21.

The Mirror has joined forces with the RSPCA and Bayer Pharmaceuticals for this year's awards.

To help fund the RSPCA's vital work, please visit the charity's website - www.rspca.org.uk - or call the 24-hour donation line on 0300 123 8181.

CAPTION(S):

MY HERO The Hoff meets life saver Whizz

FLYING START Whizz jumps into action from rescue boat

gentle giant Lifeguard Whizz on beach patrol
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 3, 2015
Words:539
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