My biggest bugbear with regard to the Newfoundland dog up until now has been the lack of official recognition here in Canada, the country of origin. It has long been my contention that we should do for the Newfoundland dog what the Japanese did for the Akita and declare the breed to be a national treasure. Even in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, where the Newfoundland was declared the official animal emblem in 1972, recent government literature has watered down this honour by citing several animals, including their other dog breed, the Labrador Retriever, as “official”.
Until this year the Canadian government has only recognized our Newfs with a stamp in 1988 and a coin minted in 1997; however these were not singular honours but merely part of a series on all the Canadian breeds. Now, in 2010, as the Canadian Navy celebrates 100 years of existence, the Newfoundland dog has been declared the Canadian Navy Centennial Mascot. Finally a major federal government institution has recognized the Newfoundland dog and how appropriate that it be the Navy.
When I first heard of the honour and that starting on June 3rd, 2010 at a centennial celebration in Quebec, the mascot was making public appearances, I had to find out which Newfoundland dog had been picked for this great honour. Well I almost choked when I found out that the Navy was not using a real dog but rather a costumed character. Actually the tender went out for four costumes. This made it easy for the “Newf” to be on the Atlantic coast one day and in British Columbia the next. Eventually I got over the fact that they weren’t using a real Newf and concentrated on the honour being bestowed. This recognition for our breed at a national level for a year is a start and my hope for perpetual national recognition remains strong.
The Canadian Navy is also running a naming contest for their mascot and the new name will be announced on September 16th. Details of the naming contest and photos of the Newf mascot can be found at Navy recruits mascot (This link has since been updated to reflect the contest results.) This will be an incredible but rewarding challenge for some young person as the name must be “bilingual sounding and be related to the sea and/or the Navy’s environment/history”.
There is however one component of the Navy that has a real live Newf as its mascot and that is the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corp in Midland, Ontario commanded by Lieutenant Megan McKinnon. One of the McKinnon Family Newfoundlands, Polar Bear, is a major part of the public image of the Cadet Corp.
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.
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