IT certainly is not a dog’s life for border collie Sasha who has become the first canine to be trained as an underwater rescue dog.

For 12 months Dave Marsh has been teaching Sasha the skills needed to be a Drowned Victim Search Dog to help Bolton Mountain Rescue in their searches.

Mr Marsh, who has worked as a volunteer member of the team for 28 years, was given Sasha at just seven months old by a dog expert, Neil Powell, from Northern Ireland, who spotted her potential for sniffing things out.

But due to her remarkable progress, Mr Marsh has found himself in “deep water” with his pooch — teaching her the art of finding victims under water.

Just two weeks ago the wonder dog completed her first successful staged mission from a boat, detecting her “victim” from 30 meters away.

Mr Marsh, who also works as a contracts manager, believes it will change the future of mountain rescue operations and is proud to be involved with her: The 62-year-old said: “Sasha is great to work with. She’s the first of her kind in Britain and if she passes her assessment in August she’ll be a valuable member of the team.”

Sasha, who turns four in July, was initially trained as a mountain rescue dog, helping out with land searches.

Mr Marsh said: “I picked her up as a seven-month-old puppy from a trainer who said she’d make a good underwater dog.

“Nothing like that has been done in Britain before — only Neil has done it.”

To train Sasha, the team have to set the scene by staging “bait” — usually a dead pig which emits a similar scent to that of a human — in the water around 24 hours before the exercise.

Mr Marsh said: “The pigs we use are stillborn, there is nothing unethical about how we operate.

“We take Sasha out on our four-man rigged inflatable boat and wait for her to bark when she has the scent.

“Then we map the place and give a 50 square meter area for the police divers to look.”

Mr Marsh is confident Sasha will pass her assessment in August with “flying colours”, making her a fully qualified water dog.

And the mountain rescue team member was keen to stress the huge scope of their work.

He said: “A lot of people think that we just deal with mountains but we also help the police find missing children, for example