To me Newfoundland dogs are Mother Nature’s masterpiece. Unfortunately Mother Nature is constantly being bullied as people keep trying to improve her work. The latest attack takes the form of so called designer breeds. These are technically not breeds at all but rather first level hybrids, AKA mongrels, mutts or crossbreeds.
My very favourite images are those of adult Newfoundland dogs with young children and this got started in the Victorian age, the heyday of the Newf. At first the children were dressed as young adults and formally posed with the dog. Later in the era we started to see the children portrayed as the innocents that they are and in informal poses.
Polar started it all when he was called upon to help calm down a violently upset patient at a local hospital where Moe worked. Since the gentleman had a photo of a dog in his room Moe was asked to go home and get her Newf to help prevent both staff and the patient from getting hurt. Within 10 minutes Polar walked into the room and the patient immediately calmed down. After about 45 minutes Polar had done his job and then went to other rooms to visit – he was a natural.
It is said there are over 700 breeds of dog recognized around our planet. Each breed has its own distinct features but none match the uniqueness of the Newfoundland. In previous columns I have discussed or mentioned many of these, particularly those related to a Newf’s special abilities in water. Now I would like to give an overview of our breed’s unique and semi-unique characteristics in no particular order.
Newfoundlanders probably have never shown more pride in the giant breed dog of the Island than when they presented a Newfoundland to visiting royalty. This they did on two occasions, once in 1860 and again in 1901 when the current Princes of Wales came to St. John’s.
While Newfoundland dogs are commonly known to have been aids to fishermen in the days of sail, it is less well known that they were and are fishers in their own right. Fish are their most natural prey and that diet was foremost for them as they evolved in the 16th to 19th centuries.
People say the funniest things about Newfoundland dogs and their special attributes. If you go on the internet and register with Newf Net Forums you will encounter much humour. Following are some examples.
On a recent trip to the Island of Newfoundland my brother, Greg, sent me a photo of the Newfoundland dog statue on Signal Hill in St. John’s. This powerful symbol of one of the province’s animal emblems got me thinking on how important statues are. While images in general are very powerful communication vehicles, most are two dimensional and sometimes two dimensions is just not enough. This seems particularly true when it comes to our beloved breed.
The Internet today is probably the most important communication media shaping how people feel about dogs in general and specific breeds in particular. To see how our breed is perceived outside of the Newfoundland dog fancy I decided to check out the “top” lists for dog breeds to see how we fared.
A Newfoundland dog jumping from a helicopter to rescue a drowning victim is what usually comes to mind when we think of the Italian Dog Rescue School (Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio or SICS) but there is so much more to this incredible organization.