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The column that I wrote in 2007 about Newfs and salt water brought more feedback than any article that I have ever written. A light bulb went on for many people. They had wondered how Newfs got by in olden days when there was no one to de-mat them, clean their ears and treat hot spots. Many modern day Newfoundlands have to be thoroughly groomed before and after going into water. Obviously in the pioneer days on their native island when daily dips in the briny was the norm, there were no grooming salons on the beaches. A big part of the reason for not needing extensive grooming was the environment itself, salt water.

In Ontario where sea coast can only be found in the very remote north, many Newfoundland dog guardians are still attempting to provide the natural environment for their fur babies. The most common method is a salt water swimming pool. Many are installing such or converting their existing chemical pool to salt. The best example that I have seen is at the home of Shelly and Dave Livermore in Burlington. When they moved to their current home in 2002 they had a pool specially designed for their Newf, Pepsi. The pool is 50 feet long with a beach entry and a very large shallow area to facilitate human-Newf interaction. Even though salt purification was not yet the norm back then, they had that installed for their Newf. Unfortunately Pepsi doesn’t like to swim and only gets her feet wet in the pool. This past year with her new puppy, Cosmo, Shelly got advice that Newfs often don’t swim recreationally and need a purpose. She started throwing toys for Cosmo to retrieve and voila, they had a fun summer in the pool.

Bath time for Cole and Chuck

Credit for the most unique attempt at simulating the natural water environment of the Newfoundland dog has to go to Theresa Kennelly-Tessier in Stoney Creek. One day their Newf, Cole, pushed opened the bathroom door while Theresa’s husband, Mike, was bathing in epsom salt in their whirlpool bath. She promptly joined Mike and now both Cole and their other Newf, Chuck, get regular soakings up to their necks in the epsom salt filled Jacuzzi. Theresa tells me that her Newfs have virtually no skin problems since the epsom salt baths were started six years ago. This fits with my research that found that epsom salt baths provide a mineral bath similar to bathing in sea salt.

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

January 2010