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Whenever someone asks me if Newfoundlands are family dogs, I usually reply “No. They are neighbourhood dogs.” There are two reasons for this response:

First, when adults admire a Newf, they frequently remark that they had one as a kid. Upon subsequent questioning, it turns out, nine times out of ten, that their family never owned a Newf. It was actually a family down the block that had a Newf; however, the Gentle Giant ended up being shared with all the children in the neighbourhood.

Second, people who walk their Newfs always tell me that they are stopped every few feet so that someone can admire and pet their dog. Furthermore, everyone for blocks around knows and greets their Newfie by name but haven’t the foggiest clue of who the “owner” is other than Bear’s mother/father.

A few people are famous enough to be known in spite of having a Newfoundland dog. These include: George Borden (better known as Lord Byron), James Barrie (author of Peter Pan), King George III, King George IV, King George V, Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, Queen Marie of Roumania, King Hasam II of Morocco, the Kennedy family (especially Robert Kennedy), George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, Ulysses S. Grant, Brace Beemer (radio and TV star who played the Lone Ranger and Sergeant Preston of the Yukon), the last Queen Marie of Roumania and her son, King Michael, American explorers Lewis and Clark, President of Haiti Paul E. Magloire, Humphrey Bogart, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, Robert Burns, Robert Frost, Richard Wagner, Bing Crosby, Captain Cook, James Boswell, and Sir Edwin Landseer.

Unfortunately, I’m not aware of many famous Canadians that own Newfs. I hope that’s just due to my ignorance. A couple that come to mind are my favourite singers, Stomping Tom Connors and Shania Twain. If you know of any omissions in the lists above, especially Canadian celebrities, please contact me.

My favourite celebrity Newf owner story involves Ontario Cabinet Minister David Tsubouchi. Shortly after he and his wife, Elaine, got their first Newf, David was given a very controversial position as the Minister of Community and Social Services. This made him a target for Frank magazine. A reporter was assigned to steal their garbage. He only found one bag which he promptly plopped on his editor’s desk. You guessed it ! It contained only one item: a week’s supply of genuine Newfoundland dog poo!

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 1998