Hannibal’s Angel Bear

Letter of Nomination

September 28, 2003

I am writing because I feel our Newfoundland bitch, Hannibal’s Angel Bear (“Grace”), AKC registration number WR078330/01, deserves the NCA Heroic Newf Award after saving our daughter from drowning this past summer.

On July 20, 2003, our family went on an outing to Lake Saltonstall in Haverhill, MA. My husband dropped off Grace, Amiya (our then almost-seven year old) and me at the lake, while he went with our baby to get gas. Amiya, who is a beginning swimmer, began wading in the water while I watched from a dry vantage point about 20 feet or so from the shore.

Grace played with Amiya in the water for a bit, then began nosing around the meadow adjacent to the lake. Unbeknownst to me, the bottom of the lake was covered with large boulders, so that Amiya thought she was wading in water shallower than it actually was.

Suddenly, as Amiya kept walking, the rocks ended, and she found herself in water beyond her depth. She began splashing and floundering and calling to me for help. As I began moving toward the water, intending to jump in fully clothed, I yelled to Grace (who was happily sniffing about the tall grasses at the edge of the meadow) “Amiya!”

She stood stock still for a moment, taking in the situation, then hurtled toward the water and first galloped, then swam full speed toward Amiya before I had even entered the lake. Grace swam around Amiya from behind, giving Amiya a chance to grab on to Grace’s body – which she did – and pulling her promptly in to shore.

Grace has never had any rescue training; she simply knew instinctively what to do when the time came. Whether she is chosen for this award or whether some other, wonderful Newf wins it, Grace is a heroic Newf.

While we, like many Newf owners, knew theoretically about the watchful, protective qualities of the breed, their quick grasp of situations they have never before encountered and their swift actions in response, we never thought it would actually come to the test.

I will never in all my life forget how, when cold, sickening fear gripped me, Grace demonstrated that she is much more than a ball of fur, energy, and love; a great and vigilant heart beats under that black, furry exterior.

~ Deborah Tor