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For a breed that is not considered to be common, Newfoundlands seem to have gotten a lot of press coverage over the years. During a rash of UFO sightings across much of the United States in 1896-97, guess who was spotted on one of the cigar shaped airships? Yep, the city marshall of Farmerville, Texas was reported to have said that when the object passed over him at two hundred feet he could “see two men in the ship and something resembling a large Newfoundland dog.”

Jumping from the 19th century to the 21st century, things have not changed much. Here are some recent examples:

On December 21, the New Hampshire Union Leader had a headline that intrigued me: “Man’s best friend ditches 10-wheeler in river.” Of course, it had to be a Newfie. It seems Bear didn’t want to be left behind when his master left to do his rounds with his garbage truck. Bear was left in the cab while his owner would empty the trash into the rear of the truck. On one of these occasions, the truck rolled forward, went through guardrails and ended up in the Sougegan River; presumably Bear had released the hand brake. Fortunately the Newf was not hurt, but did have to rescued from the cab where he was trapped. That was Bear’s last trash collecting excursion.

Unlike the story above, when I saw the headline “When humans fail, pets suffer” in the Japanese newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun, I sure didn’t expect to see a connection with Newfs. The story was about pet animal problems in Tokyo and included a section on a humane society type organization called Save Animals Love Animals (SALA). They promote their activities and collect donations at a local subway station and on one recent occasion, the SALA members brought three full grown Newfoundlands. The Newfs and a billboard were set up in the middle of a busy pedestrian corridor. Passers-by of all ages swarmed them to get a closer look at the dogs. The Newfs were given food and hugs and cash donations poured in. Never underestimate the power of a Newfoundland!

Meanwhile, back in Newfoundland, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador issued a press release about the hero collar that was awarded to the dog that was purported to have saved the passengers and crew of the S.S. Ethie in 1919. It has been loaned to the Newfoundland Museum by the owners from Alaska. Unfortunately, the press release of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Recreation supports the version of the story that the hero was a collie-type dog rather than a Newfoundland dog. Can’t win them all!

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

April 2002