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Napoleon died peacefully in his sleep on October 21, 2004, four weeks before his 11th birthday.

When Napoleon was adopted by Lloyd Nelson of Whitby, Ontario, Lloyd was a semi hermit, going prospecting by himself in remote areas for half of each year. After bringing this new buddy into his life, Lloyd started Canadian Newf Rescue and has devoted his life to helping the breed.

Napoleon (Hannibal's Napoleon)

In the early years, Napoleon would go prospecting with Lloyd. He would go into the streams and catch fish just like his ancestors did hundreds of years ago. He saved Lloyd a lot of legwork by backpacking the dynamite into the remote wilderness while Lloyd carried the detonators (otherwise Lloyd would have had to make two trips since it is not safe to carry both together). Lloyd no longer had to mark his trail back to the base camp as Napoleon could always get them home. He could also be sent to find Lloyd’s other special Newf, Blue, an elderly rescued dog that Lloyd and Napoleon adopted together. Another special duty of Napoleon during the prospecting days was to scare off any bears that they encountered.

After a few years, Lloyd gave up prospecting so that he could run the rescue service for Newfoundlands year round. Napoleon remained Lloyd’s constant companion, going everywhere with him, to banks, stores, etc.

Lloyd took Napoleon down to nearby Lake Ontario where he swam year round, right up to the last days of his life. Passer by’s would watch this guy swim in ice water with awe. When Lloyd organized the Great Newfie Trek to Newfoundland in 1997 as part of the 500th anniversary of Cabot’s re discovery of Newfoundland, Napoleon would often steal the show by swimming in water where icebergs were close by and carrying “sticks” that were actually medium size trees.

Napoleon shared many adventures with Lloyd over the years, such as fishing for shrimp in Greenland. A further adventure had been scheduled for November of 2004. Lloyd and Napoleon were going to Afghanistan where Lloyd had been contracted by the US government to advise them on coal mining in the country. Lloyd’s main condition was that Napoleon would accompany him and the US government agreed and made arrangements for Napoleon’s food to be flown in. With Napoleon’s demise, Lloyd cancelled his Afghanistan engagement.

Lloyd has immortalized Napoleon in the photographs that he had blown up and sold around the world to raise funds for Canadian Newf Rescue. A webpage has been set up where Lloyd’s photos of his very special pal can be seen. Proceeds from the sales of these photos will continue to be used to support the cause that Napoleon inspired over a decade ago.

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 2005