Lifeguard lab won't be taking a paws

By Amy Shanks

Charlie the labrador is a local identity at Pourerere Beach where saving a child from the surf and keeping an eye on the caravan park is all in a days work.

At 7-years-old the black lab could well be ready for retirement, but owner Dick Grenfell says he shows no sign of slowing down.

"He sits there and watches the little children when they are swimming to make sure they don't go in too far. He takes himself off for regular swims too."

While there have been no rescues for a while, the dog would always be remembered for his bravery in protecting a toddler from the surf.

"The first week we had him, there was a lady who wanted to use the phone, when she went to leave her toddler was nowhere to be found. He had taken his trike into the water and was up to his armpits, Charlie stood between him and the on-coming waves and re-directed him towards the shore."

A gentle giant, the lab was taught not to chase rabbits or seagulls and once brought up a kitten, now a fully grown cat called Thomas who also lives at the Caravan Park.

"He brought [the cat] up, he washes him. They are still good friends but he gets a bit annoyed with him at times."

While not viscous or nasty by nature, Charlie had also been an "invaluable," watchdog.

"Especially when we had all that flooding and we were here on our own. He certainly lets us know when anyone is coming."

Mr Grenfell got Charlie from an English orchard worker, who could not afford a $4000 bill to fly him home with her.

"They were going to put him down. My partner's daughter was also working on the orchard and said, 'no, I think I know where I can find him a home'. He's been here ever since."


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