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I love getting correspondence from fellow Newf fanciers especially when it is accompanied by photos or newspaper clippings. One of the most exciting things to come in my mail recently was a copy of the magazine Lifeliner. This publication is put out by the Lifesaving Society, the organization that trains and certifies human lifeguards. Taking up the whole front cover was a picture of a Newf, Shona, training for water rescue with owner Joan Widdowson of Sarnia. This picture was first published on the front page of the Sarnia Observer last year when Shona earned her Water Rescue Dog (WRD) designation. Now the Lifesaving Society has acknowledged the canine version of lifeguard certification.

Shortly after I received the magazine, I got a newspaper clipping from Lloyd Nelson of Whitby. He was in Newfoundland prospecting with his Newfs, Napoleon and Blue. The clipping was from the Telegram in St. John’s. The article entitled “It’s the dog days of summer” took up the top half of a broadsheet page and featured a picture of the trio on the St. John’s waterfront with a schooner right behind them.

The telegram article told of how the Newfs helped carry his prospecting supplies including dynamite. It also promoted the two 14-day treks that Lloyd is planning for Newfs in 2000. (For those of you who are new to Newfs, Lloyd organized the Great Newfoundland Dog Trek in 1997 to celebrate the re-discovery of Newfoundland by John Cabot 500 years earlier.) The theme this time is the initial discovery of Newfoundland by the Vikings in 1000 AD. It is believed that their big black dogs are ancestors of our breed. One of the highlights of the 1997 trek that is likely to be repeated is the whale watching tour on a schooner – they had 100 Newfs on board – talk about Newfie heaven. Captain Austin Flynn of J & B Schooner Tours was quoted as saying that his own Newfoundland dog, Sailor, barks at the whales every chance he gets and doesn’t mind having a few more dogs to join in. The article then described Lloyd’s work in rescuing Newfs from pounds and abusive homes in the Northern U.S. and central Canada. A colourful description of Lloyd and his Newfs concluded the article: “Nelson lets both dogs ride in the cab of his pickup … which has side decals with Top Dog written in large letters over a picture of Napoleon. Nelson, with his burly frame, wild hair and well-lined jowls, looks a bit like his adored pets.”

Another interesting letter came from Jack Buckley of Mississauga, Ontario. He was responding to the September column about the modified breast stoke of the Newf and wrote: “I have been observing the swimming technique of our Molly. She is about one and a half years old now and spends a lot of time in the pool. I put in a small set of plastic steps for her and she uses them for entrance, exit and resting. The ball is a constant; she carries it around in the water and may think of it as a rescue object. I have noticed the ‘modified breast stroke’. She also has a habit, when not carrying the ball, of splashing the water with her right paw and snapping at the spray. When I observe her underwater from the rear, she looks like a large duck.”

Jack also mentioned that Molly has toured across Canada and swum in both oceans. In Twillingate, Newfoundland, the captain of a sight-seeing boat insisted on Molly coming aboard; he also had a Newf, Neptune. Does my heart good every time I hear of another ship’s captain in Newfoundland with a Newfie dog.

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

December 1999