About feet and Newfs

Sometimes sixteen feet feels like sixteen tons

Anyone in a multi-dog household (especially large dogs) will know, it is virtually impossible to have a nice, full, and green lawn. All the traffic and peeing quickly creates these not so attractive areas where vegetation withers and fades away. As dutiful homeowners, each spring we order a load of topsoil and diligently spread, roll and seed these areas trying our best to beat the inevitable. We put up temporary barriers to keep the dogs off and often grass will grow but just as often it quickly disappears as soon as the barriers are removed. So we have resigned ourselves to these areas as being a necessary part of living with giants.

Apart from their less than desirable appearance, these bare spots take on another role on a rainy day. Areas with no grass become areas of mud and dogs, whether it is raining or bright sunshine, must go outside to do their daily ” eliminations ”. Our routine on these rainy days would leave many standing with their mouths open trying to figure out just “what is wrong with these people”? Newfs love water. Water comes in many forms : Lakes, rivers, oceans and of course rain so when they go outside to do their business, they usually are in no hurry to get back. They wander the property, from muddy area to muddy area, looking for that perfect spot, then wander some more investigating every little clump of grass. (sparse though these may be) By the time they get back to the door they are not a pretty sight. Soaking wet and mud halfway up their legs.

In order to cope with these days, we have adopted a routine. We cover our kitchen floor with many of the “dog” blankets we keep for these occasions, the dogs line up on the deck outside the door and one by one they come in, stand patiently while we towel off their coat, which now seems to weigh an additional 10 pounds because of the water, then we proceed from foot to foot with a wet towel, cleaning the mud from the feet, legs and from between the toes. As each dog is complete he/she is shuffled off to another room and the next one is brought in for the same treatment. This usually takes about 15 minutes to complete and on a typical rainy day we would execute this routine three or four times.

Foot washing or washing of feet is a religious rite observed as an ordinance by a few religious denominations. Obviously the reason we practice this ritual is not one of religion. I must add that we do this only for the dogs. Human visitors must arrange their own foot cleaning.

Out and About with Newfs

A Newfoundlandis a type of dog which is not well known among non-Newf people. When a Newf owner is out and about with their dogs, a large part of that time is spent being stopped and questioned by people who are fascinated by the size, colour and the “Teddy Bear” appearance of this giant. There are a series of questions all Newf owners are asked repeatedly.

“Do they eat a lot”?

“You don’t keep that dog in the house do you”?

“You must have a big house”?

“They must need a lot of exercise”?

“How much does he weigh”?

“Do you have a saddle for that horse”?

“You have FOUR of them”?????

And the most often asked question:

“What kind of dog is that”?

Many people think they know what kind of dog it is and will sometimes tell the owner what kind of dog he has. Newf owners are always comparing and sharing the stories about what their Newf has been called. Probably the two dogs most often confused with a Newf are the Bouvier and the Saint Bernard ,both of which are nice dogs but look nothing like a Newf.

It is quite interesting, however, when some well meaning people, who just happen to know a little about dogs in general, give their idea of what breed this is. Some of the names that they come up with are quite fascinating. Lars Erup, a long time Newf owner and good friend, has maintained a list of names that Newfs have been called. Some of the more imaginative are: (with his permission)

· Overweight Afghan

· Cocker Spaniel

· Flat-coated Retriever on Steroids

· Maltese

· Pit Bull (Giant Black)

· Shitz Tzu

· Newfunlander Sheepdog (non-existant breed)

· St. New Finlander (non-existant breed)

· Black Angus Calf

· Burmese (that’s a cat!)

· Clydesdale (that’s a kind of horse)

· Great Dane

· Some sort of large Poodle

· Badly bred St. Bernard


8 responses to this post.

  1. Once again, you had me laughing. We have spent much of our time wiping down paws and legs in our home too. I love how Sadie and Stella (Maggie did as well) always manage to find the mud and dirt. They then wear it as if they are proud of their findings and addition to their attire. : )


  2. I am so glad I am not alone! Last year we resorted to laying sod, and fencing it off for awhile, it worked fine until a month ago! Oh well! We’ll try again this year:) Our house is the same way lined with towels and blankets, it’s not pretty but it works!
    We get all the same questions out on walks, and it cracks me up the way people pronounce Newfoundland! I always repeat it the correct way but they don’t get it!


  3. Posted by Anne Atherley on April 12, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Why just yesterday the temperature hit 79F, enough for the last of the snow to melt in the doggy wading pool. You can guess the first thing Gracie did when she hit the backyard…and the first thing I did when she re-entered the house…spreading bath towels all over the kitchen floor!! Thanks for the laughs, Bill!


  4. Posted by Christine on April 13, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Hi Bill,

    I have four dogs also, and the humour on this page was just too much for me to pass by, without comment. My big boys and girl are constantly stepping on me – I have bruized feet … sound familiar?

    And the “how much do they weigh question is huge”. More is always better to the person asking, so sometimes I will exaggerate just to humour them 🙂

    But what I really wanted to tell you, is that I have a Tibetan Mastiff, whom every dog expert that I run into tells me “what a great “Newf” – I have given up – I don’t even correct them anymore.

    My others are 2 Great Pyrenees and the guy in charge is my ShiTzu … I just may have to get me one of them Newf dogs – hee hee!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Mississauga, Ontario


  5. Posted by anna on February 11, 2014 at 11:46 am

    When asked if my Landseer is a St. Bernard I answer ‘she is a good dog but no Saint’


  6. Bill, I just can’t stop laughing so hard at the unfathomable list of breeds that get called upon to represent the Newfoundland! All of the questions and nearly all of the breed suggestions are exactly what Bubbles and I go through daily………everyone has to know what it is, etc. We are never home in 10 minutes, so before we leave, we tell the cats: “See you guys – whenever…………..”, and with that we are gone on our daily “safari” (she has been referred to as a black lion dog too – go figure). But, we manage to get everyone on the “same page” and all’s well that ends well, and then me and my “lion dog” head for the barn. All in a normal day’s routine, when your service dog just happens to be a big, black, fluffy and adorably-faced Newf! Gotta luv ’em. Val and Bubbles


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