PDSA Big Doggy Paddle

Take the plunge for poorly pets

PDSA Big Doggy Paddle

Take the plunge for poorly pets

Fancy being rescued by a powerful 13 stone lifesaver?


We should mention he has big ears, a wet nose, and a waggy tail! The PDSA Big Doggy Paddle gives participants the chance to experience the power and grace of a Newfoundland dog, by being ‘rescued’ from the water. All funds raised by participants go towards helping PDSA’s own lifesavers – our vets and vet nurses – continue their vital work caring for the UK’s most vulnerable pets.

Our first Doggy Paddle event on 5 September 2016 got off to a wet and wild start! Twenty-five brave participants, including TOWIE’s Kirk Norcross, X Factor finalist Sam Callahan, Kiss FM DJ Pandora Christie and national press journalists, got wet to save poorly pets. 

Lifeguards with fur


As well as raising funds to helps the UK’s sick and injured pets, the PDSA Big Doggy Paddle showcases the remarkable Newfoundland dogs that rescue people from the water. At this year’s event, 18 of these beautiful dogs leapt from a boat on command and paddled hard to pull each participant from the Thames water - demonstrating not only their special life-saving skills, but the devotion and amazing bond they share with humans.

This “bucket list” event was put on in partnership with David Pugh and the Newfound Friends team who train these incredible dogs. In March 2016, we presented the PDSA Order of Merit posthumously to an extraordinary Newfoundland dog called Whizz.

He was one of David’s much-loved dogs and expertly trained in water rescue. Whizz’s actions saved many people’s lives. Sadly, he passed away in February 2016 but this event gives all participants and spectators the chance to witness the kind of fearless spirit and determination that Whizz demonstrated during his lifetime.


The Big Doggy Paddle 2016 was such a success we’re hoping to do it all over again next year, so to register your interest email fundraising@pdsa.org.uk.

Good buoy!


Hi I’m Bea, one of the water rescue dogs (or ‘Kings of the Sea’ as we prefer) on duty for the PDSA Big Doggy Paddle.

I might look fierce, but I’m highly trained to gently pull you to safety using my webbed paws and water-resistant coat (and I’m a big softie as well!).
A Newfoundland Water Rescue dog leaps from a RIIB and into the Thames

Watch the Doggy Paddle in action:


See Whizz in action

Waggy tales

Don’t take our word for it! Read the testimonies of those who took the plunge in 2016.

Meet the pets we treat

Meet some of the pets treated by our vets, each with their own ‘tail’ to tell – from poorly pups rushed to our Pet Hospitals to curious cats that get themselves in a fix.