There are all sorts of awards and honours for Newfoundland dogs, but there is one that I crave most of all. So far my best result is a third place in 2002. The award is for the Oldest Living Newfoundland and it is given annually by the Newfoundland Club of America (NCA).
A survey done by the Health and Longevity Committee of the NCA in the early 1990′s showed that Newfs that make it to two years of age live an average just shy of 10 years. However early writings from Newfoundland indicate that Newfs lived 13 to 15 years in their native land hundreds of years ago.
My main passion is to see our beloved breed living at least as long as they have in the past and, if possible, to exceed the 13 to 15 year range. There is not much data in this area so I use the NCA award as a bellwether. Since 2001 the recipients of this award have all lived to over 14 years of age and half of them to over 15 years. In 2002 and for the last three years the award winners have lived to 15 years plus. Prior to the turn of the century Newfoundlands as young as 13 years were being recognized as the oldest living. This is far from an average of 13 to 15 years but the trend is going in the right direction. Unfortunately a Newf as young as 11 years can still make it in the top 10 nominees as one has for 2008.
Canadians who are members of the NCA and have registered their Newf with the American Kennel Club are eligible for the award. In 2008 there were two Canadian Newfoundlands nominated, both by France Landry and Michel Lavoie of St. Raphael, Quebec. In third place was 14 year old Kali, their first Newf; she came in sixth in 2007. Their other nominee, 12 year old Angelik, came in ninth. Both are in excellent health and are expected to be nominated again for the 2009 award. I will be adding one of my senior girls as well.
For 2010 the rules will change so that the nominee does not have to be certified by a veterinarian to be alive on December 31st, but just at any part of the previous year. There will also be special recognition for any Newfoundland that reaches the age of 14 years in the form of a certificate to be presented at the National Specialty. Up to now the top milestone age was 10 years when the NCA declared a Newf to be a living legend but now the bar has been raised.Peter Maniate has been writing a column about Newfoundland dogs for the Breedlines section of Dogs in Canada magazine since January, 1996. The preceding column originally appeared in the September, 2009 issue. Permission is granted for re-publication of the preceding article or excerpts from it as long as the author is credited and the name of the original publication and date of first publication is included.