Dogs have always been a friend to mankind. They are the domesticated descendants of wild dogs and wolves. They have been bred to develop certain characteristics producing many different breeds of dogs.
Dogs are built to be able to run down their prey. They have thick footpads which protect their feet when running and claws which protect their toes. Their claws are also useful for digging out their prey. They have a lean, muscular body with a coat of hair.
Dogs show emotion through their actions. If you are acquainted with a dog, you will know how they show with their body their affection, friendliness, anger, fear, shame or excitement.
A dog’s most important sense is that of smell. They use their keen sense of smell to recognize friends and to acquaint themselves with strangers. That’s why dogs come up and sniff at you. Their noses are usually damp which helps them to smell.
Newfoundland has a very special breed of dog. It is called a Newfoundland. They are a breed developed from dogs brought by European fishermen hundreds of years ago. It has some Saint Bernard, Great Pyrenees and French hound in it.
Newfoundlands were bred for their environment which is cold ocean, snowy winters and fishing. It is unique in that it has webbed feet – a growth of skin between its toes. It also has large powerful legs, a strong tail that acts as a rudder and lungs that are larger than other dogs its size. This makes it able to swim long distances. It also has an inner coat of fine hair like a mink or muskrat and a thick outer coat of long fur. This keeps it warm and dry in cold water.
Newfoundlands are intelligent, gentle, brave and loyal. They are good with children and will protect their family. They were bred as working dogs to haul sleds or carts of wood, fish and fishing gear, deliver milk and move loads. They are also wonderful water rescue dogs. They were kept on sailing ships to rescue those who fell overboard.
PROJECT: How many dog breeds do you know? What are the different ways dogs are used? If you have a dog as a pet, what breed is he/she and what was he/she originally bred for? Find pictures of different breeds of dogs and paste them on a page identifying the breed and if you can find out, what they were specifically bred for.
BOOKS: Heroes of Isle aux Mortes, by Alice Walsh, Tundra Books 2001 (picture book); Sailor, by Catherine Simpson, Tuckamore Books, 1998 (picture book); Star in the Storm, by Joan Hiatt Harlow, McElderry Books, 2000 (novel); Thunder from the Sea, by Joan Hiatt Harlow, Aladdin Paperbacks, 2005 (novel).