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Did you know that there is currently a Newfoundland dog in the Guinness Book of World Records? Here’s what they have to say:

The fastest time for a dog to retrieve a person from water over a distance of 25 m is 1 minute 36.812 seconds, achieved by Jack the Black vom Muehlrad and his handler Hans-Joachim Brueckmann (both Germany), on the Kaarster See lake in Kaarst, Germany, on 11 June 2013. The feat was recorded for the TV show Guinness World Records.

Actually this does not impress me much. In our water rescue tests here in North America most of the exercises have a two minute time limit and the Newfs usually can do them well under the time limit including towing a boat from 75 feet (about 23 meters). So I expect that many of our water trained dogs could beat this record. Problem is the owner has to apply to Guinness to be tested. You can apply at this link. The catch is – there is a fee. For priority handling of your request expect to pay $800 US and to have an official Guinness judge in attendance would cost you $10,000 US.

Jack may be the only Newf currently in the Guinness Book of World Records but he is not the first. Guinness used to have a record category for the strongest dog in the world in terms of most proportionate weight pulled. In 1979 12 month old Barbara-Allen’s Dark Hans hauled a load of 5,045 ½ lbs. He only weighed 97 lbs which meant that he had pulled 52 times his weight.

To put this in perspective I looked at the heaviest load shifted by a dog. This honour went to a Saint Bernard. In 1978 he had pulled 6,400 ½ lbs. However the dog weighed 175 lbs and had therefore only hauled 36.6 times his mass. Then I checked the record for Clydesdale draft horses – they only got to 27 times their weight back in 1893. Finally I looked at a hypothetical weight pull and calculated that if a four lb Chihuahua was to match the Newf he would have to move a load of 208 lbs – hardly likely!

There is a back story that never made it to the Guinness Book of World Records. It came courtesy of Tubby Miller from Alberta. After I wrote about Hans’ amazing feat in my Carting Corner column back in 1986, I got a note from Tubby:

“…..a little more info on Barbara Allen’s Dark Hans. I knew Hans and his owner trainer, Terry Dickinson. At the working trials in Seattle, sponsored by the North West Newfoundland Club, I was on the “weights” when Hans pulled his way into the record book…..By the weights I mean the weights that the dogs pulled. They used pieces of railroad tracks which averaged between 90 and 100 lbs each. The weights were put on a hard rubber tired four wheeled industrial dolly, which was on a concrete pad; the dogs were on turf.

“Hans was a small dog, as you can tell by his weight. He was the cull of the litter, a runt. Terry worked for Barbara Allen Kennels at that time and Barbara Wolman was going to put him down, but Terry’s tears won out and she was given him. He had very droopy eyes and very bad hips. As a matter of fact that was what caused his demise at approximately two years old.

“Terry started conditioning Hans slowly to get him ready for the trials. He never had any sockets for his hip bones to fit into, but he was so muscled that he could keep moving and living without pain. But you can only put so much muscle on and then he started to have pain, so it broke Terry’s heart when she had to do the inevitable.

“I agree with you that 12 months is too young for that sort of thing, but I guess he had two years of love and life because he was in shape to do the weight haul.”

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.

Newf News

September/October 2017