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
· 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