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Ingrid Ledoux of Parksville, BC sent me a clipping from the Vancouver Sun about two Newfs attacked, without provocation, by a Beaver. The story originally appeared in the Winnipeg Sun this Spring and then the story was picked up by newspapers all over North America. Billy and Bonnie, belonging to Sam Pshyshlak of Inwood, Manitoba, did not fight back with the crazed dam builder; instead they ran away. Neither Newfoundland was seriously injured and they only required minor veterinary care. Ingrid, who has a Newf named Charlie, attached a note to the clipping saying “That’s why I am getting a Ridgeback – to protect Charlie.”

I’m sure the Rhodesian Ridgeback, famous for taking on lions, would make an excellent body guard for Charlie, but this is a bit of an over reaction. One shouldn’t judge an individual dog or an entire breed by one incident.

A quarter of a century ago, my first Newf, a Landseer bitch we called Pooka, saw her first wild animal, a rabbit that somehow got trapped in our fenced yard. The rabbit upon seeing the Newfoundland dog turned to make its last stand; Pooka promptly hid behind my wife’s legs. Then a couple of months later, a very large and vicious crow attacked our new puppy, George, to get his food. Silently and quickly, Pooka appeared. One blow from a front paw stunned the crow and before we could blink, she had picked up the bird and gave it a single shake that sent it off to raven heaven. Same dog, different circumstances.

Newfs are not only natural protectors of human children, but also of baby animals. Often they seem to think that any animal that is a lot smaller that they are is some sort of baby and act accordingly. This means that they do not respond with violence when attacked by them.

When the animal is larger than the Newf, it is a whole different story. Many fanciers have told me tales of their Newfoundland’s courage, without unnecessary violence, when they are confronted by larger beasts. One such owner is Lloyd Nelson. When he’s not running Canadian Newf Rescue, Lloyd goes into the wilds with his two Newfs to prospect for a living. His younger Newf, Napoleon, besides carrying the dynamite in his back packs, regularly scares off bears that come anywhere near his human.

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 2000