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Life Among the Giants by William Ball is a new book about Newfoundland dogs. Only 143 pages and liberally laced with photos of the giants, this is light reading that could be enjoyed in a single session; however you will want to go back to it over and over again.

As I started to read the book it got off to a shaky start with me as the first couple of pages attempt to define the Newfoundland dog with material lifted from an on-line encyclopaedia that does not control who may contribute or edit. Fortunately, on the third page, Bill starts writing about what he really knows, his own Newfs past and present, and it then got good and just kept getting better from that point on.

For anyone contemplating getting their first Newf, this book will let you in on all the real stuff you should know rather than the overly romantic version so commonly found in texts on the breed. Just glancing at some of the section headings will give you a major clue as to what you will be facing; a couple of my favourites are Starting the Day with Newf Hair in the Butter and Pardon Me While I Wipe That Slime Off the Ceiling.

People who are already addicted to Newfs will appreciate the fond memories aroused by anecdotes such as “Often on a hot, humid summer day we will notice it becoming increasingly warm and humid in the living room. The reason is that we often have three of the four Newfs crowded around the cool air outlet, blocking it from the room.” I often remind Newf folks what they are now complaining about is what they will likely miss most when their fur friend has departed and the author has captured a similar sentiment when he discusses snoring: “And they snore loudly. Most could win snoring contests with the loudest human snorer. We have family and friends who can rattle the windows with their snoring but can still be outdone by a Newf. However, it is quite interesting that we find it almost impossible to sleep with a human snoring on the other side of the bedroom wall, but three or four Newfs shaking the floor is akin to having a glass of warm milk before bedtime.”

To order this must-have for your Newfoundland dog library, go to

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.

Dogs in Canada

January 2009