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On a recent trip to the Island of Newfoundland my brother, Greg, sent me a photo of the Newfoundland dog statue on Signal Hill in St. John’s:

This powerful symbol of one of the province’s animal emblems got me thinking on how important statues are. While images in general are very powerful communication vehicles, most are two dimensional and sometimes two dimensions is just not enough. This seems particularly true when it comes to our beloved breed.

A wonderful lady known as Newf Net Nana to those of us on the internet’s Newf Net Forums recently moved into a retirement residence. She had shared a Newfoundland named Murphy with her daughter, Jen, until his recent demise and misses him so much. Now she was facing another traumatic moment in her life.

Jen noticed that some of the other residents had statues of dogs outside their doors, so she went on the internet to ask where she could get a statue of a Newf for her mother. Very quickly one of Nana’s admirers donated such a statue. While Nana has many pictures, this three dimensional replication of a Newfoundland was just what she needed to help her ease the transition to a new phase in her life. She immediately named her statue after her lost love and put Murphy’s collar on her new guardian.

Standing on guard outside Nana’s door is Murphy’s namesake:

Newf Net Nana is not the only one who has got consolation from a statue of a Newfoundland dog. When my wife, Maribeth, died suddenly in a car accident, I was a wreck and am still grieving. To help ease my pain, I wanted a special grave marker that would reflect our common love for our Newfs and for the breed. We were married for 24 years, seven months and one day. Two years into our union we got our first Newfoundland and for the rest of our time together, Newfs were an obsession that we shared. They helped raise our son, gave us weekend activities as a family and so much more.

The Catholic cemetery where Maribeth was buried had a rule that tombstones could only have religious images but I wanted to have an engraving of a Newf pulling a dog cart based on the artwork on our business card. After much negotiating with the chairman of the cemetery board and agreeing to put four religious images on the grave marker I got approval for one non-religious image.

This helped but in time I realized it was not enough; a three dimensional image was needed. However with the strict rules of the cemetery this was going to be a challenge.

While I am normally very conservative and follow rules, for once in my life I threw caution to the wind. Hoping the caretaker would not turn me in but knowing that God would approve, I mounted a statuette of a Newfy puppy to the base of the tombstone:

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 2014