I know you will enjoy reading this lovely tribute written by Marion Figley Stelzer about that very same Londerry. Marion Figley Stelzer is a life-long dog lover. She is also a bird-rescuer, a physical therapist, and an outstanding Aunt-in-Law. Aunt Marion: "Growing up, one of my favorite books was The National Geographic Society's The Book Of Dogs, 'An intimate Study Of Mankind's Best Friend'. Copyright 1919. (I still have the well worn copy.) There is a wonderful colored picture of a handsome black Newf as well as a black and white one (a Landseer) and a good write-up. I decided that one day I would have one...It took a long time but I finally got one and was never disappointed."
Yes, he was handsome, he was a classic. He was the Newfoundland dog the artist Landseer would have loved to paint. Londerry was everything he was bred to be. Big (180 pounds), powerful, heavy coated, ebony black, webfooted, gentle, loyal, loving and with a few white hairs centered on his chest. Truly a gentle giant.He was just 4 months old when we drove from Westport, Connecticut to Warwick, Rhode Island to get him. He was the last of his litter of 10 to leave the kennel. His breeder Nancy Holt had tears running down her cheeks as she put him in our station wagon. His sire, Champion Companionway’s Mount Sylvester was even barking a fond “adieu”.
Our excited youngsters, Susan, Jeanne and Donn could hardly contain themselves. Having recently lost Merilla, their year old Newfoundland, to a heart condition, made him especially dear. They had spent lots of time and effort deciding on a name. Finally after much searching, an old World War II Irish newspaper, The Londerry Press surfaced. That was it, Londerry!!
This was the beginning of our wonderful companionship. A house in the woods with a pond for a front yard, three adoring youngsters, lots of nice neighbors and three cats, what more could Londerry dream of. Obedience classes, long walks, good swims and loads of attention filled his days.
Things changed when Glenn was transferred to Delaware. New things to do, like stay in a motel for 6 weeks while the new house was completed. No swimming in their pool, sorry to say. Sleeping on the cool bathroom floor was good, but during a nap, when TV repairmen came in unannounced, there was quite a furor as they fled in terror fearing a bear had taken up residence.
Delaware was good, and even better when Maude, an 8 week old, Australian Terrier puppy joined the household. She was cute, and busy and liked to share his dinner. Soon they were taking walks together, as the neighbors said, the “big and the little of it”.
Londerry seldom barked but when he did it was impressive, Generally, Maude did the speaking for the two. When someone arrived at the front door Maude set up the usual terrier racket and the visitor was always startled to see Londerry standing in front of me, quietly protective. On evening trips to pick Glenn up at the airport or train depot, he was a most welcome companion and loved the ride. There was also the possibility we might stop at the Dairy Queen for cool treat.
Vacations on Cape Cod and the Poconos were fun, especially when swimming in the ocean or the lake was part of the plan. As the self appointed lifeguard he found it difficult when his charges ducked under water...more than one bathing suit had a tear in it from his rescue.
Living with a Newf was a challenge. There was lots of dog hair floating about, and saliva was a constant ”wipe-up” detail…car windows, trouser legs, long skirts and even ceilings (when he shook his head) bore the evidence. Not everyone understands it when a big tail brushes something off of the coffee table or when a big black head rests comfortably on the dining table. House rules were, the dining room was “off limits”, so lying in the doorway with his front paws in the room was his test of the degree of rule enforcement.
When our soon-to-be son-in-law Phil arrived from England, Londerry greeted him “eye-ball to eye-ball” from the top of the steps. Phil was a bit taken aback. He said he knew we had a large dog, but just hadn’t understood quite how large. They became fast friends, but Londerry served as a chaperon, Susan being Londerry’s special person.
A couple of years later, Susan arrived from England for Jeanne’s wedding. All the family was together, furry friends included. It was a wonderful time. As Susan was leaving, Londerry seemed to sense this was a final “Goodbye”. When she bent over to give him a hug, his face was wet with tears. Shortly thereafter, his time had come. Donn and I sat with him while he was gently euthanized. We all had enjoyed and cherished our ten years together.
HIS WAS A WONDERFUL LIFE.