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Marty Southcott of North Bay, Ontario submitted the following about her Newf, Codco:

Every winter I produce a play for our local school board. We work with 85 – 100 children from the grade 4 through 8 level. In January of 1997, as we started our four month project, I decided it might offer a perfect opportunity to socialize our 10 month old Newfoundland puppy. So every Sunday Codco and I spent three hours at rehearsal. He found so many children at once overwhelming but was happy to be petted by one at a time as long as I was close by.

We decided that he should be in the play and it was decided that he would play the part of Primrose the cow, complete with costume. I wondered if, in fact, this rather timid puppy would come through. He would tolerate being petted by the children but would not go for a walk with any of them. Always the optimist I started teaching the boy playing Jack how to handle Codco and lo and behold all seemed to go well. Scott had never had a dog of his own but was anxious to learn and they developed a nice bond. Their nine performances went off without a hitch.

Imagine my surprise when following the final show a lady came to me, introduced herself as this young lad’s mother and burst into tears. Apparently they had been very worried about Scott. He was failing at school and was generally lacking in confidence. He had come home one day and said “Mum, Marty is teaching me to handle her dog. I’m going to take him on stage”. His parents encouraged him and a short time later he said “You know if they think I can do that, and I can, then I bet I could do better in school too”. His mother said she had just been to a parents night and Scott’s teachers had been amazed. In four months his marks had gone from F’s to B’s.

Being at rehearsals with 90 children was not Codco’s favourite place to be. He was still very much a child himself but somehow he seemed to know that it was important to work with Scott. Scott’s self-confidence grew in leaps and bounds as he realized he could handle Codco and none of the other children could even get him to go for a walk with them. It was wonderful to see this rather shy, self-effacing thirteen year old gain self assurance and a positive self-image. When they came on stage together and Jack said, “but I can’t sell Primrose, she’s my best friend”, it was the most heart felt line in the show.

This January Codco heads back to rehearsals once again. Perhaps there will be another child who needs his support, and if so I’m sure he’ll sniff him out.

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

September 1998