Friday, December 26, 2008
Newfoundlands Giving Sleigh Rides
From the Schenectady Daily Gazette
Newfoundland Dogs Will Give Sleigh Rides for Albany Winterfest
Friday, December 26, 2008
By Bill Buell
"Mary Lou Cuddy and her Newfoundland dog, Suzy, pull a youngster at last year's WinterFest. Well aware that animals are always a source of good family fun, this year’s Albany WinterFest is offering two types sure to be loved by everyone: Real live dogs — Newfoundlands to be more precise — and plenty of animal puppets courtesy of Dr. Marmalade, a pretend veterinarian from the Berkshires.
"Dogs from the Northland Newfoundland Club will be pulling children in sleighs and generally demonstrating their wonderfully warm personalities throughout the day, while those looking for a bit more theatrical entertainment can take in one of Dr. Marmalade’s four puppet shows.
"Both are making their return trip to the Albany WinterFest, now in its third year, while other performers will include American Idol participants Blake Lewis, Chris Sligh and Brandon Rogers. Lewis, the 2007 Idol runner-up to Jordin Sparks, will perform with Sligh and Rogers at the Palace Theater in the afternoon and will also be part of the grand finale outside City Hall at 5 p.m. Kicking off the day’s festivities at 11:30 a.m. will be the Jingle Jog, a road race for children ages 5 to 11. The day will end with a fireworks display beginning at 5:15 p.m.
"The Northland Newfoundland Club, a chapter of the Newfoundland Club of America, was formed in 1970 to 'encourage and promote quality in the breeding of purebred Newfoundland’s and to do all possible to bring their natural qualities to perfection.'
"Mary Lou Cuddy of Ballston Spa and her husband, Bill, bought their first Newfoundland back in 1982.
Meeting the Breed
“'Until I met my first Newfoundland, I wasn’t a dog lover', said Mary Lou Cuddy, who has seven adult dogs and five puppies. 'My husband went to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and Newfoundlands were the school mascot. I just loved their temperament. They are sweet, gentle, tender and loving dogs, and they’re great with kids. They’re a great family dog.'
"Starr Willets of Watervliet, currently the president of the Northland Newfoundland Club, always liked dogs, but her enjoyment of them turned into a passion when she discovered the Newfoundland breed.
“'About 20 years ago, a friend of mine got one, and it was just the most amazing dog I ever saw', said Willets. 'Here was this dog that was as big as a black bear and he had the head of a Grizzly. But he was so gentle with kids and with older people, I was absolutely taken with the dog and then the whole breed. Their temperament is the hallmark of the breed. We call them gentle giants.'
"Willets has no children but she does have six Newfoundlands. She also has a pretty sizable backyard within the city limits of Watervliet, but her pets are almost always indoors.
“'I have a big yard, but they are all house dogs', she said. 'They’re like a potato chip. You can’t just have one, and I know which bark belongs to which dog. Even in pitch darkness, if there’s some noise I’ll be able to tell who the troublemaker is. Just like a parent can tell the difference in their children’s voices, I know their bark.'
"People who own and breed Newfoundlands can sometimes make a little money by selling puppies, but it’s certainly not a get-rich quick scheme. 'You don’t really make money on the animals', said Cuddy, 'and personally we don’t have any litters unless we’re looking to keep something for ourselves.'
"Willets said she has made money raising her Newfoundlands but only on rare occasions. 'When you’re breeding, you’re not making money', she said. 'It’s a very expensive proposition, and there are people who come out ahead on rare occasions. But most of the time, you’re losing money. You’re doing it because you love the animals.'
"There are a few drawbacks to the Newfoundland. Sometimes, they drool.
'Well, I am constantly running the vacuum and cleaning the walls or glass because of nose prints', conceded Willets. 'And then there are the strings; the saliva. We call them strings because they just kind of hang on.'"
[Remaining portion of article on "animal puppets" redacted for my sake.]
On the whole, 'Drew and I like the story.
As for drool being a "drawback", all we will presently say is that we see many a human Plonker walking down the street, mumbling to themselves, picking their noses, and drooling or spitting. Right back at you, Schenectady.
And as for sleigh rides, I'm happy to oblige ("the Dude obliges") as soon as one of those little snotnoses gives me his stroller. I mean, really. We like to spend an hour or so a day at a caffe, but invariably some couple comes by with a stroller the size of Schenectady and they expect us to move. Move where? It's not like we can go inside -- Dog forbid; humans carry more germs than New York subway rats but they make rules forbidding dogs from going inside a bleeding caffe. This is one thing (perhaps the only thing) the French have right. So much for the holiday spirit!