Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Newfoundlands -- The Gentle Giants

Newfoundland: The Gentle Giant of the Canine World
(By Teddy Coleman)

"If you chance upon a Newfoundland in many ships in Canada, this indicates that sailors want additional safety. For those people who know the capacity of the Newfoundland, this information is agreeable. For those who are not quite familiar with the breed, be ready to agree.

"The Newfoundland breed is a native of Canada and it came from the northern place of the same name. The descendant of the Newfoundland is said to be the St. John dog, another local breed which is, up to this day, famous for admirable characteristics. In the 1400’s, accounts that told the existence of a superb water dog in the Great Banks of Newfoundland have been recorded so it means that the breed had been in existence for centuries now.

"Water rescue is the Newfoundlands forte and when it comes to swimming, it remains the champion. There are several records that prove of the Newfoundland’s supremacy in the water and it is further proven by many rescue events of today. One account shares a girl named Anne Harvey from Isle de Morts, her father and her Newfoundland Hairyman who altogether helped rescue 180 Irish immigrants from a ship wreck.

"During the early 1900s, a Newfoundland single-handedly saved 92 people from a sinking ship during a blizzard. Famous people are also recorded to be helped by the Newfoundland and this includes the famed Napoleon Bonaparte when he nearly drowned in his escape from the island of Elba. A Newfoundland of a fisherman jumped in to the sea and helped Bonaparte safety.

"The Wild West discoverers Lewis and Clark also brought with them during the quest a Newfoundland named Seaman. The Royal Rifles of Canada also have the Newfoundland as a hero and it is named Sgt. Gander. Sgt. Gander’s heroic deed happened in the Battle of Hong Kong when he sacrificed himself by means of carrying away the grenade that’s meant for the wounded soldiers.

"Some see the Newfoundland to look like the St. Bernard but it is actually the other way around. What separates the Newfoundland, however, is the fact that its feet are webbed and this helps him swim accurately and with great speed in the waters. Its lung can also endure severe long distances of swimming and this has helped him be successful in many rescue missions.

"Its coat is dense, oily and resistant to water that’s why he is able to stay in the freezing water even for hours on end. Other dogs swim in a “doggy paddle” but the Newfoundland swims in a breast stroke motion and this gives his swim more power and speed. Its lips and flews are droopy and it gives him the tendency to drool overly during hot days but in swimming, it allows him to breathe even if his mouth is full of water.

"Even though this dog’s size is enormous, its heart is full of benevolence, gentleness and kindness that people call him the 'Gentle Giant'. Towards its owner, it is very protective but never aggressive to any kind of human and animals. As quoted by Henry David Thoreau in Walden, '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.'"