Thursday, November 3, 2011


I remember it well.  I was twenty, in love, and wanting to make a good impression on my boyfriend's special aunt and uncle.  We drove to Delaware to have lunch with them.  I wore my best white dress.
This picture was taken the day I met my first Newfoundland
When we arrived, I was greeted at the door by their dog, Londerry, a 150-pound Newfoundland.
The Newfoundland is a large working dog, named for the Island of Newfoundland where the breed first became known to British settlers.  "Newfs" were used extensively on sailing vessels as rescue dogs.  They are massive of muscle and strong swimmers, with dense coats that offer protection from the icy waters of the sea.  These dense coats shed . . . a lot.
The Newfoundland is intelligent, loyal, brave, gentle, and friendly. The breeding standard strives for a tight lower lip.  But, excessive salivation can be a problem for these wet-mouthed dogs.  In other words, many Newfs drool . . . a lot.

After five seconds with Londerry my white dress was covered with long black hair and ropes of slimy saliva.  He was so happy to see me!

The visit was a success.  I made life-long friends of the aunt and uncle.  I ended up marrying the boyfriend.  And, I never forgot Londerry.

Years later, I took a course on Emily Dickinson at Mount Holyoke College.  On the very first day of class my professor mentioned that the poet owned a Newf for sixteen years.  The dog was her constant companion.  I was dumbstruck.  My image of this pristine poet dressed in white changed forever.  Anyone who owns a Newf is not pristine.  They are in a constant state of dishevelment!  As a children's book writer, I knew I had to share the story of Emily and her dog with children.

Finally, I will.  Thanks, Londerry!

My book about Emily Dickinson and her dog will be out and about February, 2012.

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