Monday, March 31, 2008

Satchie The Scoldy Newfie

Satchie, the scoldy Newfie
had a very shiny coat.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

All of the other Newfies
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Satchie
join in any Newfie games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say:
"Satchie with your coat so bright,
won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

Then all the Newfies loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Satchie the Scoldy Newfie,
you'll go down in history!

(Yeah, we're hurting for material! But seriously, Happy Birthday Axl!!!!!!!!)

Friday, March 28, 2008


Today, we want to bring ourselves back to why it is we are so fortunate to be guardians of our Newfies.

Our joy is due to someone (okay, a couple) whose love for the breed is unmatched, whose tireless work with the breed is unparalled, and whose abilities to produce wonders out of that which is wonderful is without equal.

From that love, devotion, and skill came a puppy named "Paris". And even approaching 11 years of age, he looks and acts as if he were a puppy. We can't produce the words that do him justice, but only paraphrase those that come close: beauty without vanity, strength without insolence, courage without ferocity, and all the virtues of Man without his vices.

Bless him and his parents.

'Drew (Satchie is still recovering in the Newf Sanitarium.)

P.S. The Four Amigos uptop are (left to right) Preston, Axl, Hummer, and the boy with all the ribbons is the only and only Paris.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Dog Show World Blues, Part One

Thursday - no beach, no park, no nice leisurely walk.

Friday - no beach, no park, no nice leisurely walk.

Saturday - no beach, no park, no nice leisurely walk.

Instead? Dog shows. They're not fit for a dog.

And Sunday will be more of the same.

The grooming, the refurbushing of the grooming, the pre-show half-baked grooming, the groping, the stupid run around the stupid ring. The bib-wearing!!!!!! No food in the morning (sorry, but Nutri-Cal doesn't do the trick). Well, puppy likes it but as you can see, I am less, quite less than happy about it all. It's all so uncivilized. And I don't even get to play with Hummer and Axl because of fear of additional refurbishing. (And then Hoover mauls me. Hey, Aunt Heidi, I was scoldy from the start -- pay up!! But it was nice to see Aunt Meredith -- she was so happy!!) Then Mrs. P says I need to lose five pounds from my shoulders. Hey baby, that's all muscle!!

Really, it's just an amalgam of Plonkers. Why not just say "The Plonker Kennel Club of Plonkerville"? It's all so Plonkerized that I'm singing the blues:

* * * * * * * *

I've had a question that's been preying on my mind for some time
I won't be wagging my tail for one good reason
It has to be a crime

This doghouse never was the place for me,
Runner up and second best just ain't my pedigree
I was so happy, just the two of us
Until this dog show world
Turned up in the Marchuary sale

I don't love it
Like they love it,
It won't be long now before this puppy goes astray
And what I like about these shows the most?
The ring's my favorite lamppost
Devil take the hindmost

Deu pra sentir como é difícil mudar, eu sei
Me distraí, me adiei, mas pode acreditar
Eu vi você sofrer, mas sei que vai passar
Não quero um cão, eu quero um homem pra me acompanhar
Você reclama demais, já decidi assim
Não faça drama, a nossa trama pode estar no fim
Aceite rápido, depressa, já aconteceu
Daqui pra frente somos três
Ele, você e eu

It's a shaggy kind of story
Would I tell you if I thought it was a lie?
But when the cat's away the mouse will play,
I wouldn't dish around here
There's something fishy round here

I howl all night and I sleep all day
Take more than biscuit baby to chase these blues away
I've got a long enough leash
I could almost hang myself
It's a dog's life showing baby
I'd rather be doing anything else

And now the superintendent has moved my basket
I'd like to put him in a casket
I'll wear my best collar to his funeral

Sua má fé que me separa ainda mais de você
É uma tortura
E a cabeça não quer aprar de doer
Não posso mais, não devo mais ver minha vida escorrer
Você não pensa em ninguém, você só ama você
O amor existe e como é triste matar ou morrer
Todas as noites mais bonitas serão esquecidas, vem ver
A festa terminou, o dia apareceu
Esteja atento, em pouco tempo
Apenas ele e eu

To have found a perfect life
And a perfect love so strong
Well there can't be nothing worse
Than a perfect love gone wrong

You said I wasn't just your Christmas toy
I'd always be your boy
I'd be your faithful companion
And I would follow you through every thick and thin
Don't need these show world blues
And my coat don't need a trim.

(Okay, okay, it's a rip on Sting's "Perfect Love, Gone Wrong" but it's apt, and I'm apathetic.)

I can't wait for Monday, when things get back to normal and I can just be plain old Scoldy Boy. Until then, I believe we've proven that two negatives (two Plonkers) do not make a positive.



Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tanti Auguri A Gizmo

Tanti auguri a te
Tanti auguri a te
Tanti auguri a Gizmo
Tanti auguri a te.

Que bella Terranova!!!!!

That it is Gizmo's Birthday, and that he is such a beautiful and special Newfoundland, is cause for a reprise of probably the nicest piece of writing on Newfoundlands of which we know:


"There is a land where the waves explode upon the reef in a boiling foam, there the legend was born.

"As the story is told, God turned one day to contemplate all of his creations and saw on that Newfoundland Isle, flailed by storm a small nation of fishermen, whose rough, weather-beaten people fought courageously against the impervious elements of nature as the freezing cold winter and the unforgiving coastline took its toll, and the sea often asked the sacrifice of human life. Nevertheless, they remained deep-rooted, these men of Newfoundland with the stubbornness as great as their courage.

"God saw, and in his infinite compassion, thought how he might alleviate their suffering. He searched among the creatures of his creations but found none that would serve. It was then he decided to create one anew.

"He took the body of a bear, whose bone structure lent well to such arduous labours and whose thick fur would resist the bitter Newfoundland cold. Then he thought to sweeten this silhouette with the lithe, flexuous lines and movements of the seal, with all it’s prowess to swim and speedily slip between the waves.

"Now turning to the sea, he saw the playful dolphins happily following the ships, their sweet, joy-filled eyes revealing their serene temperament, and more; they so love man that they often rescue them, saving them from the sea. Yes, they too would be part of this creature.

"When he had done the moulding and casting, there suddenly appeared in his creative arms, a superb animal with glistening black fur; powerful and sweet in the same moment.

"This new being, however, had to have an allegiance and faithfulness, tried and true, to be able to live beside man and be ever ready to offer his life for his master. It was at that moment that the Lord opened and placed in his chest, the heart of a dog, and the miracle was complete.

"From that day onward, those men of the sea had beside them, their courageous companion ever strong, ever faithful the, Newfoundland Dog."

(Reprinted in translation from the book Il Cane Di Terra Nova by Emmy Bruno, editor Mursia-Milano)

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Newfound Pledge

"May I practice courage,
compassion, trust and
loyalty towards others.

"For these and more,
are lessons taught to me
by my Newfoundland dog."

(Alexander Bridge)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

For Alexander, From "Chance"

You've spent your life giving Newfies a Safe Haven.

We know that in leaving, "Chance" is watching over you with a Newfound Prayer:

A Newfound Prayer
(Patti Smith)

"Child with heart so raven wild
I have known you well
I have guarded you in sleep
and with the morning bell
we would tramp the blessed field
ramble through the pine
all my loyalty was yours
all your joys were mine.

"We would camp upon the bank
to watch the sails that sped
I would offer you my back
to rest your dreaming head
all of our adventures
in existence but a sigh
moccasins as silent
as arrows in the sky.

"In nature is a song
that from the spirit flows
from the wild I came
to the wild I will go
and grant I meet you there
when time will turn to air
to shepherd you in heaven
this is my newfound prayer."

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Newfoundland, Water Rescue Dog

Guard Dogs: Newfoundlands' Lifesaving Past, Present
(Maryann Mott for National Geographic News) (February 7, 2003)

"Newfoundlands are large, sturdy dogs known for their intelligence and gentle disposition—and centuries of service rescuing people from drowning. While the hunky breed is better known today as a pet, a few still serve as lifeguards in the United States.

"Named for the Canadian province where it originated, the Newfoundland's webbed feet, rudder-like tail, and water-resistant coat make it a natural swimmer. But over the centuries it is the dog's devotion to people that has made it a hero. The plucky breed is credited for pulling so many people in distress from the water that it has earned its nickname 'lifeguard dog.'

"Following an instinctive urge to rescue people in need, Newfoundlands use big, powerful strokes to swim out to a person in trouble and they use their large mouths to grab and tow someone to the safety of the shore.

"If a swimmer is unconscious, the dogs have been taught to grab the person's upper arm in their mouth. This rolls the person onto his back, keeping his face out of the water.

"Newfoundlands do all this by training. But they also seem to instinctively know when people are in danger of drowning and don't have to be prompted to spring into action, according to breeders.

"These innate abilities were so widely respected in the 1800s that the dogs were considered "required lifesaving equipment" along the coast of England.

From Beaches to Boats

"The Newfoundland's strong swimming skills and intelligence also earned it a job on European and American sailing vessels. In 1919, when a ship called Ethie ran aground off the Canadian coast, historians credit a Newfoundland named Tang for saving the entire crew. The massive dog is said to have jumped into the turbulent sea and swam to shore with the ship's rope in his mouth. People on the beach secured the line and used it to bring all 92 crewmembers safely to safety.

"Tang's good deed didn't go unnoticed. Historians say the dog received a medal for bravery from the famous insurance company, Lloyds of London, which it wore for the rest of its life.

"While many things have changed in the world since the Ethie sank, the Newfoundland's uncanny ability to know when people need help has not.

"In 1995, Boo and his owner were out for a stroll along the Yuba River in Northern California. As they made their way around a bend, the 10-month old dog spotted trouble. Without hesitation, he dove into the water and swam toward a man, who was holding onto a red gas can, desperately trying to stay afloat in the swollen current. Boo grabbed the man's arm and pulled him safely to shore.

"The man was a deaf-mute and couldn't call for help, said Janice Anderson, Boo's breeder. He had fallen into the river while gold dredging.
'Boo had no formal training in water rescue,' explained Anderson, a Newfoundland breeder for 30 years. 'It was just instinct. He picked up on the fact that there was someone in distress and then dealt with the situation.'

"The Newfoundland Club of America, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, awarded Boo a medal for his heroism in 1996.

Water Search Dogs

"Today only a few Newfoundlands officially work as lifeguards. In England, Bear helps train teen lifeguards at the Cotswolds Water Park. In Italy, Mas has been coached by trainer Ferugio Pelenga to leap from helicopters into the ocean to rescue people from drowning. And in the United States, Moby, a crew member on Rapture Marine Expeditions in California, watches up to 150 young people on board at a time.

"Newfoundlands are one of the most versatile of all dogs that work. In addition to saving people from drowning, their sweet disposition and gentle nature shines through in therapy work. The breed's beauty and brawn has also made it a successful competitor in the show ring as well as in drafting, obedience, and water trials.

"In keeping with the breed's love of water, Nicki Gundersen of Lenexa, Kansas, found the perfect job for Calvin. The 10-year-old black Newfoundland is a trained water search dog and uses his powerful sense of smell to locate bodies of drowned victims.

"'The fact that we can help people bring some closure in an unhappy situation is a bonus', Gundersen said of the volunteer work.

"Newfies are good in this field because they don't need to be trained how to swim, or overcome a fear of water, like some other breeds. While there are no official numbers on how many Newfoundlands are certified in water search-and-recovery, Gundersen estimates there are less than 50 throughout the United States.

"The Kansas resident responds to several calls each year, most of which are alcohol-related boating and swimming accidents.

"In this part of the country Calvin's skills are especially needed because the lakes and rivers have silt bottoms, which makes the water black. Dive teams have limited visibility underwater and need help narrowing down where to look.

"These highly trained canines also make recovery efforts go faster. Gundersen recalled one case where a man had been dared to swim across a turbulent river but didn't make it to the other side. The victim's family and park rangers searched eight hours for the man. No luck. Then Calvin was called. It took the dog 45 minutes to locate the body.

"At the scene of an accident, Calvin doesn't jump into the water and search for the victim. Instead, the 125-pound (47-kilogram) dog rides in a small inflatable boat, sniffing the water's surface for oil and skin particles that have risen to the top.

"When Calvin picks up the scent, he barks once or twice. Gundersen concentrates the search in that area until Calvin scratches at the bottom of the boat, indicating he has found the victim. A dive team is then sent to retrieve the body."

(Editor's Note: Perhaps not if it were a Park Ranger, Park Police Officer, or other species falling even below the status of a Plonker. I mean, "really", how in the wide world of sports is a Newfie supposed to save someone if required to be on a leash "no more than six feet in length", if you know what I mean?)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Newfoundland Water Rescue Trials: The Time Is Now

It's that time of the year when Newfie Water Rescue trials are taking place, so do as Satchie says, not as he does, and get out there!!

"The Newfoundland breed's character has two distinguishing traits that are special indeed. According to the breed standard, the Newfoundland has a 'sweetness of temperament', and 'possesses natural lifesaving abilities.'

"It is easy to make the argument that the Newfoundland has the finest character of any breed. It is also the ultimate retrieving breed. In water rescue, Newfies retrieve both boats and people!

"Other retrieving breeds are related to the Newfoundland and can surely be taught most of these skills (depending on the size and strength of the dog being trained). How many lives might be saved by water rescue dogs, with more of them on the job? Handler and dog work as partners in most of the exercises, though the dog also learns to independently rescue the handler or others.

"It's not only in the water that Newfoundlands have saved human lives, but they are especially built for swimming. The Newfoundland Club of America's water rescue dog testing program is not a competition but rather a training ground to preserve this genetic marvel of life-saving instinct in a huge, teddy-bear canine body.

The Setting

"For a water test, the natural waterfront is to be 75 feet, extending out at least 200 feet from shore. The water depth is to increase gradually so that the dogs are swimming within 20 feet of shore or of a marked starting area. Any hazards must also be marked, and there must be a suitable area for underwater retrieving.

"The test rules require a shaded area for entered dogs to rest in crates or other confinement when not testing. Dogs are to be securely confined or on leash while waiting, but off-leash for the test. The handler cannot guide the dog by the collar once an exercise has begun.

"A veterinarian must be on site or on call, and a telephone must be available at the test site. Every participant who enters the water must wear a flotation device and foot protection.

"Spectators to the event are encouraged to applaud and cheer dogs returning successfully to shore. This is exciting stuff, so applause comes naturally. Handlers cannot carry food during the test, but are given wide latitude for encouraging their dogs vocally and with body language.

"Equipment that handlers provide for the junior division includes a boat bumper, an 8-foot floating line with attached bumper, a 75-foot floating line, a boat cushion and a life jacket. The senior division adds a canoe or raft paddle, a ring-type life preserver with a 3-to-5 foot line attached, and an underwater retrieve article no larger than 12" x 4".

The test committee (assuming the absence of Plonkers) provides the following equipment:

1. Flotation device for all water stewards

2. Rowboat rated for three or more persons with a non-slip platform mounted on the stern for handler and dog to ride and dog to enter and exit the boat

3. Rope or other material to mark the test area

4. Floating markers

5. Shore markers

6. Whistles, clipboards, stopwatch, first aid kit, cellular phone if another phone is not on site

7. Canoe or kayak to be used for placing the retrieve articles

Prior to the beginning of the test is a pre-swim, 30 minutes in which dog and handler can get into the water to get familiar with it. Handlers in the Junior Division pre-swim time can use a retrieving article with their dogs, and handlers in the separate Senior Division pre-swim period can use a retrieving article and have their dogs get on and off the beached boat. This time is not to be used for training, and no food can be used.

Junior Division Testing

Basic control exercises are required as part of the test for dogs who do not have American or Canadian Kennel Club CD (Companion Dog) titles. Titled dogs are automatically marked passing on the control test.

The control exercises are performed off-leash in a 40' x 50' ring area. For the controlled walking portion, a judge calls standard directional commands and the dog must move with the handler, within arm's reach. The recall portion of the test allows signal and verbal command from the handler and additional commands once the dog has started to move. The one-minute down-stay exercise is performed off-lead with up to 10 dogs in a row.

With the control exercise requirement satisfied, dogs and handlers move on to the water work:

1. Single retrieve of a bumper thrown at least 30 feet into the water

2. Drop retrieve of a life jacket or boat cushion placed unobtrusively about 50 feet out into the water by a steward

3. Take a line, one end of a floating line 75 feet long, to a steward about 50 feet out in the water who is calling the dog

4. Tow a boat with the handler's 8-foot line attached to a boat bumper, from about 50 feet out in the water to the point that the boat touches the bottom

5. Swim out from shore for 20 feet with handler not touching the dog, and then tow the handler to shore

Senior Division Exercises

1. Double retrieve of a boat cushion and a life jacket, splashed two or three times for the dog to mark when placed

2. Retrieve a paddle back to a boat the dog and handler board and ride out with a steward rowing

3. Take a life ring out to and tow in to shore the one of three stewards in the water who is splashing and calling for help

4. Underwater retrieve of an object tossed into water at least three feet from where the dog stands in water of elbow depth

5. Take a line (8 feet long with a bumper attached) from shore to a steward in a boat 75 feet out in the water, deliver it to the steward, and tow the boat in toward shore until it touches bottom

6. Rescue the handler from the water after handler and dog ride the boat platform about 50 feet out from shore (oarsman rowing) and handler falls or jumps into the water

Water Rescue Dog Excellent Testing

Beyond the WRD (Water Rescue Dog title), the Newfoundland Club of America has developed the title of WRDX (Water Rescue Dog Excellent) with more advanced exercises. This test includes:

1. Rescue of multiple victims, two stewards in the water calling for help while holding to their boat

2. Deliver of a 125-foot line from the handler in a boat 100 feet from shore to a steward on shore

3. Search for abandoned boat 75 feet from shore, towing the boat in to shore and beaching it

4. Rescue of an unconscious victim, a steward wearing sturdy wetsuit protection floating in the water

5. Rescue of three victims, one at a time, swimming from the boat platform to each victim and towing each one back to the boat

6. Rescue of a victim, a steward wearing sturdy wetsuit protection, from under a capsized inflatable boat

Worthy Work

Water rescue work upholds the highest tradition of dogs being true partners with humans. While heavy-duty tasks such as towing a boat may call for the size and power of the giant Newfoundland breed, much of the work also suits the large-breed retrievers.

The Newfoundland is a lot of dog, and not the right choice for everyone. The coat care is a formidable task, and many Newfies drool profusely. If you have serious work for a water rescue dog, though, the Newfie is exactly the breed for the job. Or a more moderately sized retriever such as the Labrador may be your own perfect choice, and don't have the dog tow boats! Either way, this exciting and inspiring work that saves human lives is a proud tradition for an incredible breed."