Presented with a non-fiction book about Newfoundland dogs authored by someone not generally known in the fancy had me somewhat skeptical. Not a renown breeder and not even owning Newfs until after his retirement from a military career, this gentleman from Newfoundland certainly did not fit the usual pattern.
After reading the unimpressive bio (except for the fact that he is a native of Newfoundland) I turned to the Preface. This finished with the clarification of an old bug bear of mine that the dogs are Newfoundlands and people like him are Newfoundlanders. Now I was starting to warm to Mr. Hynes.
Then I went to the last chapter (no one has ever accused me of being normal) to see where he ended up. This chapter deals with the need for rescuing our beloved Newfs from abusive situations ending with a plea for potential adopters to consider such a rescue. Included were due plaudits to the Who’s Who of Newfoundland dog rescue. At this point, Bruce had my full attention.
If you are not already addicted to Newfoundlands, the stories in this book may convert you and if you are so obsessed then your addiction will be fueled. The accounts will leave you crying one moment and laughing the next. Everything great about the Newfoundland dog is covered: changing human history, sea rescues, sea dog, sensing danger, nanny and care giver, therapy, working, protecting, warrior, hero, retriever, fisherman, toller and comedian.
Unless you are an old salt from Newfoundland, you should have a bookmark in the Glossary. Throughout the text you find asterisked words indicating that the translation will be found in the Glossary. Here you will learn the meaning of terms like bedlamer, bogey, figgy-dowdy, flake, jigger, landwash, livyer, polyna, sunker, tickle, touten, and whalpit.
Two prominent members of the Newfoundland Fancy for whom I have the highest admiration are heavily cited in this book. One is the late Margaret Booth Chern of Little Bear Kennels fame and author of The New Complete Newfoundland; the other is the renown breeder/judge from Newfoundland, Megan Nutbeem.
One of my favourite stories concerns Megan and her daughter, Robin. Megan had rejected grandparents’ advice to rock their new born baby when she fussed. A year later, she was bragging to friends how her training methods worked better and her daughter seldom cried. Then they looked out the window to see one of the Newfs rocking the carriage. The friends had known about this all along. If stories like this don’t touch you, then you should buy a heat lamp to thaw out your heart and then get the book.
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