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Book cover for A Dog Named Gander

Just when I thought that everything that could be written about the war hero, Gander, had been, along comes a marvellous book about this incredible Newfoundland dog.

The book is entitled A Dog Named Gander and it is co-authored by Sergeant Major George S. MacDonell and Sue Beard. One of the factors making this book so special is that the Sergeant Major was there and served with Gander in his regiment, the Royal Rifles of Canada. Co-author Sue Beard also designed the book and her excellence shines as the book is eye candy to any lover of Newfoundlands.

Pretty much I have read everything about Gander and have written three articles about him, but incredibly when reading this book I learned still more. For example, I thought that his rank of sergeant was just a cutsie thing bestowed upon him by his fellow soldiers; however it turns out that this was not the case. Here is the real story:

“After a while Gander’s sense of pride in his job and his devotion to duty made him so valuable that the Colonel promoted him to Sergeant. Gander wore his three stripes sewn onto his leather harness with pride.”

Also news to me was that Gander was assigned to the Regimental Military Police Unit. This was done because “Gander seemed to think he was the prime protector of his regiment…”

Many war mascots had to be smuggled onto the ships carrying the troops overseas but not so with Gander; once they convinced the Captain that he was not a bear, he was welcomed aboard.

Photos abound in this book, some from 1940 and 1941 when Gander served and others from modern times including pictures of his medal and citation and of Rimshot the Newfoundland dog who accepted the award on Gander’s behalf. Interspersed are other photos of Newfs that help give the character to the breed. One of these is my all time favourite Newfoundland dog picture, a photo by Sandra Nicholson, founder of Newf Friends Newfoundland Dog Rescue. It magnificently captures Sandra’s Newf, Neptune, swimming low in the water as only a Newfoundland can along with the reflection of his face in the clear water.

Appropriately the book concludes with photos of the black marble monument for those men, women and dog who served so courageously in Hong Kong in 1941. One photo is of the whole monument and the other a close up showing the engraved name of Gander amidst his fellow soldiers.

This book is a definite must for the library of every Newfoundland dog lover and can be ordered on-line at

Peter Maniate has been writing columns for the Newf News, the magazine of the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada, since 1979.  In 1996 he started writing a Newfoundland dog column in the Breedlines section of Dogs in Canada magazine on behalf of the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada.  When Dogs in Canada ceased publication at the end of 2011 he continued the Breedlines column in the Newf Newfs.

Permission is granted for re-publication of the preceding article or excerpts from it as long as the author is credited and the name of the original publication and date of first publication is included.

Newf News

January/February 2014