Have you ever thought of a Newfoundland as a police dog? Probably not, except perhaps in conjunction with a police marine unit. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any such enlightened police marine units, so it is probably safe to say that there are no Newfoundland dogs currently in service as police dogs.
But there was once a Newf that served on a police force. According to an obituary in the Long Island Star-Journal his name was Captain and from approximately 1875 to 1885 he served as a member of the Police Force of Long Island City, New York. True to his Newfie heritage he became known and loved beyond his immediate family and was like most Newfs, then and now, a neighbourhood pet. The obituary put it this way: “…as well known as any member of the Force. He was a large, good-natured Newfoundland, not only the pet of the officers, but also the many children on the station house block.” Now what police force would not appreciate such a good will ambassador?
The Newf was presented to Sergeant Darcy and immediately insisted on going with the officer on his beat. Captain learned the ropes quickly and soon, if the dog came upon a tramp or drunk asleep in the street, he would grab his collar and shake him awake. When old age precluded his going on his beat, Captain took a desk job at the station – under the desk actually.
At the headquarters Captain became the property clerk. Clothing and other effects taken from prisoners were thrown in a corner. Captain then stood guard over these effects. No one, not even a police officer, could take anything unless the Newf heard Sgt. Darcy give his consent.
As was befitting, Captain was buried in the back yard of his home, at the rear of the station house.
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