His action caught the attention of a black-and-white Newfoundland dog named Chaos, who was standing on the shore.
Chaos swam toward him, carrying the end of a long blue rope in his mouth.
When he reached Mayer, Chaos swam around him, giving him ample time to grab the rope.
Then the dog swam back to shore with Mayer in tow, delivering him to safety.
The scene was part of a training exercise involving Newfoundlands and their owners at a secluded Gordon County lake.
The group of gathered trainers was made up of Newfoundland dog owners from throughout Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama.
Chaos, the youngest dog, was 5 months old during the demonstration and began training at the tender age of 9 weeks.
“Three days later, she was water training,” said owner Judy Staeben. “She trained every week from June to the end of September.”
“You get hooked on it,” Staeben said, of dog water rescue training.
“A dog’s head goes down in the water — into full head submersion,” Staeben explained. “It’s tough to teach them to take a line to a boat, tow a person and swim 75 feet because it’s not ‘natural’ to them.”
SENC or swim?
The group was one of several throughout the southeast training for a Southeastern Newfoundland Club water trial.
For several years, the SENC trial has encouraged sportsman-like competition, obedience and working demonstrations, under the American Kennel Club (AKC) standards.
There were approximately 150 dog entrees over the water trial weekend, Staeben said.
Among the afternoon’s events were swim-with-handler demonstrations, underwater retrieval, take-a-line/ tow-a-boat and other rescue safety exercises necessary to obtain a water dog (WD), Water Rescue Dog (WRD) and Water Rescue Dog Excellent (WRDX) certification.
“These are not easy titles to obtain, and some dogs train for years to obtain them,” Staeben said. “We are fortunate in Georgia to have a very long training season weather-wise, as opposed to the Northeast.”
Staeben said there were a total of 13 dogs that qualified for certification at the trial, including her dog, Chaos, who earned the WD title.
“She is the youngest Newfoundland dog to ever earn this title,” Staeben said.
According to senewfs.org: “the Southeastern Newfoundland Club is a regional club affiliated and recognized by The Newfoundland Club of America.”
Membership includes: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.