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Every year since 1996, the Grotto Cerebral Palsy Foundation has offered an award for Newfoundland dogs resident in Canada to celebrate their instinct to care for children. Whether there has been only one or up to five nominations in a particular year, each of the Newfs considered has been a shining example of the specialness of the breed. For the year 2001 there was one nomination submitted by Elaine Tsubouchi of Markham, Ontario:

Teddy Bear had been through two families when Newf Rescue contacted his breeder. The breeder took him in and called me as I had just lost my beautiful Newf, Piccolo. The moment I saw him, despite his motley and hang dog look, I knew I was going home with a new addition to our family. I was told that I could take him on a two week trial basis, but the second he got into my car, he started giving me kisses and I knew he was going home for good.

Teddy is the most affectionate dog I have ever had. He has always loved children and he has never even tried to grab a dog biscuit aggressively. When I read an article on St. John’s Ambulance Therapy dogs, I figured that Teddy Bear would be perfect for this role. I thought he might be ready to go from a care receiver to a caregiver.

Teddy started his care giving career by visiting seniors at the Versacare facility in Markham. He was extremely patient with the Alzheimer patients and was never short of affection. But when an opening became available for a therapy dog at the Markham Stouffville Hospital, I jumped at the chance because Teddy would get a chance to visit and cheer up the sick and injured children at the hospital. Right from the very start Teddy Bear was a hit. The children loved him and the nurses would wait past their shifts for his arrival.

Sometimes the nurses would ask Teddy Bear to visit some of the cancer patients as well so that he could cheer them up too. Teddy Bear has his own hospital ID, not a volunteer’s ID, but a regular staff ID with his photograph on it. One month in 2001 he received the award for volunteer of the month. Other awards have been given to him from organizations such as the Township of Georgina and St John’s Ambulance. Teddy has also volunteered with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in their program to help school children deal with the trauma of dog bites.

Teddy Bear enjoys both giving and receiving affection, especially from children. If he could stand there and be petted and fussed over 24 hours a day, he would. Just last week, a little girl at the hospital who was developmentally challenged asked her mother if she could kiss Teddy Bear. When Teddy kissed her back, it turned into a kissing contest that everyone enjoyed.

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

November 2002