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Russian teaches dog to scuba dive

Sergei Gorbunov helped Boniface, his dachshund, before an underwater dive in Slavyanka, Russia. Gorbunov had a diving suit and helmet made for the dog. Sergei Gorbunov helped Boniface, his dachshund, before an underwater dive in Slavyanka, Russia. Gorbunov had a diving suit and helmet made for the dog. (Associated Press/ APTN)
Associated Press / July 5, 2010

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MOSCOW — Any dachshund owner knows the feisty breed rarely backs off from a challenge, but one in Russia is taking that reputation to new heights — or depths.

The dog named Boniface is learning to scuba dive.

Owner Sergei Gorbunov, a professional diver in the Pacific Coast city of Vladivostok, had a diving suit complete with helmet made for the dog, and is teaching him the tricks of the trade.

In a recent demonstration, Boniface barked eagerly as Gorbunov readied the equipment and uncomplainingly endured being hung upside-down as Gorbunov fitted the suit on him.

Once underwater, he seemed to have a different outlook, emitting some high-pitched whines, but staff members said he felt fine throughout the procedure.

“Underwater, I don’t think he experiences any stress,’’ Gorbunov said.

Gorbunov is director of the diver training center at Vladivostok Maritime College, which carried out the dog-diving experiment to mark the 15th anniversary of the college.

Boniface used a square plastic mask and one air bottle during his demonstration. The bottle was attached to his belly, but it did not interfere with his swimming.

The dog will have more training dives in a special swimming pool before he can try diving in the open sea. The staff is training him for the All-Russian Underwater Hunting Tournament, which takes place in September.

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