"Their Company is a Gift"

This article first appeared in the September 2001 AKC Gazette and is reprinted with permission. AKC logo
by Claire Carr

Claire Carr is this month’s guest columnist. An author, she has lived with Newfoundlands for 35 years, has served on the board of the national breed club and runs a puppy kindergarten class.

“Can we get a Newfoundland,” I asked my husband, the father of our four young children. “Sure,” he replied, and we were off on the journey of a lifetime!

When Holly’s breeder suggested that we go to “dog school” together, I laughed at the thought. I never heard of dogs going to school! That introduction to dog training opened the door to coast-to-coast adventures – all because of my first Newfoundland, Shipway’s Avalon Holly.

When Holly was eight months old we agreed that she would undergo heart surgery that would possibly extend her life. It did. At 3, she became the first UDT Newfoundland in breed history. At 8, she became the first NCA Water Rescue Dog.

She taught me to respect the squeak and whine of a natural WRD and to admire the powerful connection that can develop between humans and their dogs.

Holly retrieved the mail from the mailman and brought the paper from the paperboy. She was gentle and happy and loved by all.

“I will never be a breeder,” was my definitive statement in the early 70’s, “I really enjoy working stuff.” But what did I know? In February 2000, my daughter and I watched our home bred Gunner take Best In Show at Silver Bay Kennel Club, beating 2300 dogs.

Trinity was whelped on October 27, 1985. I watched her come into the world. I asked my husband, a wonderful man, if we could keep one, and although he said no at first, she wormed her way into our hearts and stayed with us.

On October the 27, 1999 Trinity celebrated her 14th birthday; an all-day happy occasion. She received a bouquet of roses from a whole crew of fans on the West Coast. The deliveryman was curious about the big chew-bone centered in the gorgeous arrangement. “My name isn’t Trinity, I said, laughing. “Trinity is my dog!”

She was a perfect companion and my only Newf from 1990 until she died. She was a High in Trial Newf and a Canine Good Citizen. Together we traveled to 26 states, Canada and Mexico. We swam in the Pacific, waded in the Colorado, Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers; enjoyed the white sandy shores of Myrtle Beach, SC.

My advice to you is this: Make the most of every day. Look into your Newf’s beautiful brown eyes and appreciate the wonder and sensitivity that is the Newfoundland. Your dogs will come and go from your life in many different ways as mine have done. Each will stay imprinted on your heart forever. – C.C.