Newfoundlands were bred as rescue swimmers, and their love of water and concern for people is a deep instinct. A Newfoundland was part of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and Lord Byron famously wrote of his Newf,
one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the Virtues of Man, without his Vices.This community knows the "golden tail" reference, which was Martin Luther's promise of resurrection to his little dog. But I found another golden tail, in Pablo Neruda's poem "A dog has died",
Ai, how many times have I envied his tailAnd that is how I will remember Dante, who in his prime, loved to swim in San Francisco Bay or Lake Anza in the Berkeley hills. Once I went to the beach near Bodega Bay with my parents and their dogs, and Dante plunged into the surf, his massive head fording the waves, his immense tail stretched behind as a rudder, his webbed feet sturdily propelling him, as he set sail for Japan (and was only enticed back with some effort).
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds
filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.
Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
Swim strong, dear boy.