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For many of us this says it all. However there was much more written about our noble breed. In fact Lord Byron seemed to appreciate his last Newf as much as he did Boatswain. Here is what he had to say about him:

Thou are more faithful than men, Lyon. I trust thee more.

Often part of the price of fame is to have to endure some form of mockery. Of course the British would never do such to a Newfoundland dog; however the literary types in America did not feel so constrained. We might classify the following two quotations as backhanded compliments.

Josh Billings was the pen name of American humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw and he will be forever remembered by Newf lovers for this sarcastic remark:

Newfoundland dogs are good to save children from drowning, but you must have a pond of water and a child, or else there will be no profit in boarding a Newfoundland.

Then there is the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau. He certainly put down philanthropy whether by a human or Newf with this comment:

A man is not a good man to me because he will feed me if I should be starving, or warm me if I should be freezing, or pull me out of a ditch if I should ever fall into one. I can find you a Newfoundland dog that will do as much.

Of course even among Americans, mocking Newfoundland dogs was not the norm. Emily Dickinson who chose to go into seclusion preferring her Newfoundland Carlo’s company to that of humans gave this wonderful response to an acquaintance in a letter exchange:

You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself that my father bought me. They are better than human beings, because they know but do not tell.

German composer Richard Wagner summed up the breed quite eloquently when he referred to his Newfoundlands as

Nature’s own gentlemen.

While I have not been able to track down the origin of the phrase my favourite quote is

Nature’s nanny.

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

January/February, 2017