Paul Hutton, our dog Psychologist in Palmerston North told us that Wellington was “one in a hundred” and we figured this was exactly why we needed a dog psychologist in the first place. Pretty much all of our dog stories to date come from Wellington, who was a real hard case.
Wellington passed after twelve great years. We currently live with two other Newfoundlands, Enzo and Louis and we were also blessed with Henry between 2006 and 2017. All four Newfs have been very different in personality. While there may be a description or two about the ‘Newfoundland temperament’, we have learned Newfies are unique individuals. Here are some very true stories of our life with Wellington the Newfoundland. We hope you enjoy them.
It was October 1996.
I went to Keith & Diane’s place in Masterton to meet Huey, (who we would later rename Wellington).
Huey was in the garage and on the way I stepped over littermate Hootie, a black Newfoundland pup who was sleeping upside down on the path. Hootie didn’t really stir, even after a few pats. He was extremely mellow.
Keith opened the garage door to reveal Huey, a little four month old brown Newfoundland pup who was bouncing in the air as if he was somehow springing on a pogo stick while all the time in a sitting position.
earliest photo we have of Wellington or 'Huey' . He's probably around
three months old..
For a start we were terrible Newfoundland custodians because we treated Wellington like a child rather than as a dog. By the time Wellington was a year old he ruled us, our home and everything else. That’s why we met Paul, the Dog Psychologist. When Paul rang our doorbell for the first time I said “You must be the Dog Exorcist…” “I’ve never been called that before” he replied.
Part of the programme of sorting us and Wellington out involved us attending group sessions which we called ‘group therapy’.
In one group therapy session we took the dogs for a swim on the end of very long ropes. Already a very accomplished swimmer, Wellington became quickly bored with splashing about on the end of his rope and focussed his attention on a small grey and white dog, who quickly made a beeline for the security of her owner, a slightly frail older gentleman.
When Wellington gave chase the small grey and white dog ran round its owner for protection, with Wellington in hot pursuit, both dogs still attached to their long ropes. With the old gentleman now neatly tied up Wellington veered away, pulling his latest victim off his feet…
During another group therapy session we were all sitting in a circle with our dogs and Paul was standing in the middle talking. Wellington soon got bored and began yawning more and more loudly until he finally dove across the circle and on top of a Golden Retriever who was quietly sitting with his owner on the other side…
We were thankful that we were never expelled from group therapy sessions.
Above - Wellington shortly
after he moved in with us.
Michelle's Ride on the Rope
Michelle was a full time ‘mum’ to Wellington for a large part of his early years. She spent most of her days out walking Wellington and practising the techniques that we had learned from Paul. We had Wellington trained within two weeks; the remainder of our years together were simply a battle of wills.
One winter’s morning Michelle took Wellington for a walk on the long rope beside the Manawatu River. This day however, Wellington decided he would prefer a swim and made for the river sprinting as fast as he could, apparently forgetting his ‘mum’ was on the end of the rope.
Michelle was dragged on her stomach through muddy grass and puddles until she managed to swing around and use her legs to halt the bolting Newf. She walked home covered in mud from head to toe feeling that she had just played a cowboy who had been thrown from his horse and dragged through the prairie in a Western movie.
Needles to say Wellington didn’t
get his swim and Michelle felt good because she had won today’s
battle, knowing full well there were many more to come.
Wellington had three favourite games; tug of war, chicken and skittles.
Chicken involved Wellington hurtling his 70 kilogram self at you full speed and veering away at the very last moment.
Skittles was pretty much like chicken, but there was no veering away at the last moment.
I shuddered once when Wellington ran at a one legged stranger on crutches at the beach. Fortunately it turned out that he was playing chicken and not skittles that day.
Above - Wellington enjoying
a friendly wrestle with our friend Nic.
My brother came to stay with us and it became evident that Wellington really wanted to play skittles with him. Although Mark was very studious about not creating an opportunity, toward the end of his stay Mark was helping me push start our old car which had a flat battery. He was slightly bent over in a pushing position when Wellington charged from out of the blue and bowled him midriff for a perfect strike. Wellington appeared to be very pleased with his accomplishment, having waited a good two or three days for this opportunity.
At that time Wellington's job was bringing in our newspaper. When he brought the paper inside and gave it to either me or Michelle, he would stand by his biscuit tin, awaiting his reward.
One day during Mark’s stay Wellington had already brought the paper in and had duly been given his biscuit. On this day he spied Mark, who had got up slightly later, sitting at the breakfast table. Wellington came inside, reclaimed the paper which was still rolled in plastic and took it outside. In a minute or two he was back with the paper, which he gave to Mark. He then went and stood by his biscuit tin.
Left - Wellington with
Mark in the early 2000s.
The Pet Expo
Members of our Newfoundland Dog Club were invited to bring their Newfs to a Pet Expo and as we felt it would be good publicity for the breed as well as a little fun we agreed to ‘exhibit’ Wellington.
As things were being set up on the first morning a mascot wearing a dog costume came by and stopped to give Wellington a pat. Wellington must have thought the costume was pretty hot because he put his paws around the mascot's neck and began humping it.
It turned out that the guy wearing Christchurch City Council Animal Control mascot costume was actually the man in charge of animal control.
Good thing that he had a sense of humour.
The Pet Expo was well attended and while some of the other Newfs chose to sleep through their shifts, Wellington was wide awake and alert the whole time, lapping up the attention. I think from his perspective it was more like a people expo, where new people and their young would come by to be inspected by him.
Wellington was in his usual sitting position when one woman came and crouched very close in front of him, looking at him directly in the eye. The temptation was way too great for Wellington who simply gave her a shove on her left shoulder with his mighty great right paw. She toppled over backward, losing the sunglasses that were pushed up on her head in the process.
Good thing that she had a
sense of humour.
At the time we adopted Wellington, we also lived with Clyde, a beautiful seven year old Persian cat. After an initial shock for Clyde, who was not at all accustomed to being barked at and chased around the house by an oversize puppy, the two became very good friends.
We would come home from work to find Clyde emerging from Wellington’s kennel to greet us and Wellington would emerge directly after Clyde.
in Palmerston North occasionally had visitors who would bring a small
white dog, who would be left to wander free on its own devices. One
day I looked out of the window just in time to see Clyde running for
his life under the large gap in the bottom of our side gate, hotly pursued
by the little white dog. Within seconds I saw the little white dog running
for its life back toward the gate with Wellington hot on its heels.
I don’t think the little white dog wandered over our way again
Right - Wellington and Clyde outside their kennel.
Our neighbours in Palmerston North were into birds in a big way and amongst other things, kept chickens. On the frequent occasions that a chicken would flap over our side all hell would break loose. One day I watched as a chicken dared to make its way over our side of the fence. The bird immediately sensed peril and managed to flap over our front fence to escape. Wellington, in hot pursuit, went straight through the wooden fence, taking the palings with him.
On another occasion we saw
a neat line of fuzzy grey things on our lawn. On investigation we found
these to be rare Blue Ducklings that had apparently travelled under the
fence from next door. having stopped the ducklings in their tracks, presumably
with a stomp of the paw, the birds were neatly arranged in a perfect row.
I looked out the window
to see someone in the back corner of our yard. When I went out the guy
said he was looking for a boundary peg (a house was being built behind
Ice Cream Van.
When we moved to Christchurch an Ice cream van would do the rounds during summer. The van played the tune ‘Greensleeves’.
One hot day we thought it might be a nice idea to get Wellington an ice cream so we lined up behind the kids & bought him one. After the second time we did this Wellington associated the tune with ice cream and would round us up to get him one.
On one occasion, in his excitement, he charged out through our front door ahead of us, pushed past the line of children waiting their turn and by the time we got there Wellington was on his hind legs with paws up on the counter waiting for his ice cream.
One morning local radio hosts Si and Phil had the ice cream van that played ‘Greensleeves’ and they played the tune when Michelle and Wellington were driving me in to work. Wellington became so excited that Michelle figured she needed to find the van. Host Phil was so impressed by Wellington he slipped him a second freebie…
Halloween was an exciting time for Wellington. In the subdivision where we lived at the time, the doorbell would go off countless times during the evening. Wellington would be first to the door and when it was opened there would be a group of startled children, all holding bags of goodies open.
From Wellington’s perspective Halloween was about kids coming to the door with goodies for him. If we weren’t quick enough, his nose would be in the closest bag and the kids would scarper with Wellington in hot pursuit…
Swimming in the sea
When we lived in Palmerston North we used to take Wellington to the beach most weekends in summer. Having learned to swim in the river, which was basically out our back door, he quickly adapted to the surf. Wellington was a very confident swimmer and we were a little worried on one or two occasions when he had navigated way out past the breakers and was nothing but a dot in the ocean.
I used to body surf while Wellington was swimming. I will never forget the time I was surfing in on a wave and I looked to my left to see Wellington, front legs outstretched just like me surfing in beside me looking to his right at me as if to say “Is this how it’s done?”
Gang Member & Rottweiler
Wellington and I were walking over the dunes and onto the beach one day when a huge guy wearing a gang patch appeared in front of us with his Rottweiler who was wearing a bandanna. The Rotty was elbow deep in the surf and the gang member was on the beach.
Before I could get to him, Wellington charged over to the Rotty in the surf and stood towering over it, declaring that he was the dominant male around here thank you very much. The Rottweiler didn’t argue.
The gang member thought that he should be the dominant male around here, apparently didn’t like the fact that his staunch dog was being intimidated and I copped a huge earful of threats while on my way to drag Wellington out of yet another situation.
While walking Wellington on
lead around the neighbourhood a Doberman came flying at us, teeth bared.
Wellington launched at it, breaking the metal attachment between his collar
and lead in order to fend the dog off. Wellington repeatedly charged the
Doberman with his chest, even though the vicious dog was biting at his
neck. Wellington simply rammed the Doberman away from us into the middle
of the road and into submission.
Our friends Mick & Ellen introduced us and Wellington to carting when we moved to Christchurch.
Concerned that dogs are often spooked by the cart behind them while they were learning, Ellen was prepared to be cautious.
As it was we just put the harness on Wellington, hooked him up to the cart and off he went. He loved his new job and within minutes was taking his first passengers. Wellington had two speeds while carting, flat out and stop.
Above - Wellington brings a judge into the ring at a dog show
Our first water day with the Newfoundland club was at a large pond in Darfield.
Wellington watched intently as people would row out to the middle of the pond and encourage their Newf to swim out with the idea of grabbing a piece of wood attached to a rope to tow the dinghy back to shore.
When Michelle’s turn came she had only rowed a short way when Wellington launched away from me, lead and all, into the water after his mum. He immediately grabbed the rope and towed the dinghy back before it even made the middle of the pond.
From there on we got plenty of rides with Wellington. Being in the boat was a great experience. As Wellington would take the wood and turn around we would feel the power as the rope tightened and the boat began to surge through the water with a feeling a little like a car on the end of a tow rope.
Above - Wellington's first day of water work. He was already a very strong swimmer.
From time to time we needed accommodation for Wellington while we went places that we could not take him. We scouted around and found boarding kennels that looked really clean, operated by an elderly couple who seemed like nice people. we warned them that he was a handful but they were adamant that they could handle him. We said that no matter what they did they should not allow Wellington to run free with the other dogs & they agreed that they would not do this. We duly booked Welly in.
When we pulled up the drive to collect Wellington from the kennels we heard a huge commotion. Over the top of all of the barking we easily recognised Wellington’s voice. Wellington had been let to run free with the other dogs and had taken over the leadership of the entire operation. The frayed looking elderly gentleman asked us “Have you thought about training your dog?”
It took us a good two weeks of hard work to pull Wellington’s head back in after that and from there on Wellington went to stay with Paul, the dog psychologist and his pack…without incident.
The Dog Trainer
Our Newfoundland club in Christchurch one day brought in a local trainer and we went along to support the event. I quietly made it clear to the trainer that we were not interested in training with food. (By this time we were well sorted thanks to Paul’s work.)
The first thing this trainer did was to get everyone to stand in a big circle with their dogs. The second thing he did was to march straight up to Wellington and I, show Wellington a food treat he had in his hand and try to coax Wellington to lie down. In true form Wellington was not having a bar of this trainer or his food. The trainer began saying “Down” more forcefully and Wellington just dropped his head in that really stubborn way of his. “Down!” I could see a growl was seconds away and the trainer obviously knew enough to realise the same.
“How do you get your
dog to do anything?” the trainer asked me in despair. I just clicked
my fingers and quietly said “down” and Wellington immediately
dropped to the ground. The dog trainer left us alone after that.
On more than one occasion one of us would return home from a walk in Hagley Park wet. This was because Wellington would drag us into the water so he could enjoy a swim.
Once in the water he would not come out. Doing the 'walk away we’re going home without you' thing would make absolutely no difference. Ultimately, once Wellington had got into the river one of us would also have to go in to try to catch him and this fiasco would create great entertainment for bystanders in the Christchurch City Park.
The Avon River is famous for punting. One time when Wellington had made a successful bid for the Avon he saw a wedding party punting and made a beeline for the boat. Thoughts ran through my head of the boat capsizing, bride and all, as Wellington would try to scramble on board the tiny vessel…luckily we caught him first.
On another occasion, when we were walking with our Niece and Nephew we spied a huge Eel in the river. Michelle had Wellington’s lead and just as she was leaning to take a look Wellington took his opportunity and leapt into the water. Michelle was dragged in, huge Eel and all. It was her turn to catch Wellington anyway.
As we stood in a carpark at
a Newf club event one of the more wayward younger dogs decided that he
would jump on top of a nearby Newf. On seeing this Wellington decided
that if anybody was going to be jumping on anybody else, it would be him.
He launched toward the action with me on the end of his lead. I have heard
that kilo for kilo, a Newfoundland is the most powerful draft animal in
the world and on this day I had no cause to doubt the statement. The car
park had a surface of small stones like marbles and as I was being dragged
I could feel myself falling forward. Luckily there was a four wheel drive
vehicle just to my left and I put my left hand out to steady my balance
on the side of the car between the last side window and the back, before
trying to pull Wellington up to a halt. At the same time Wellington decided
to change his direction slightly and the window exploded as my left arm
went through it…
We used to enjoy walking Wellington around Hagley Park. He would always be the centre of attention, often being swamped by busloads of tourists. He must have been the most photographed dog on the planet and he lapped it all up.
One day we were approached enthusiastically by a woman wearing a bandanna. “It’s been my goal to meet this beautiful dog” she told us as she patted Wellington. It turned out that she had spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital ward across the road recovering from cancer. The woman told us that she would see Wellington walk past from her room almost daily and she had made it her focus to be well enough one day to meet Wellington in person. He was part of her recovery process.
We also often walked Wellington in the bush track area of the Port Hills in Christchurch. One time he was off-lead and slightly ahead of us when we rounded a bend to find a terrified Asian tourist huddled into a tree... It turned out that she thought Wellington was a bear...
Left - Wellington on a
walking track in the Port Hills
Although Wellington's mind was still as sharp as ever in his thirteenth year life was no longer good for him. He increasingly had trouble breathing and had lost mobility severely. We made the agonising decision to have Wellington put to sleep in September 2008.
We both swear that we could hear Wellington barking outside the house for some nights afterward.
On New Year’s Day 2009 we decided to take our Newfs Henry and Enzo to Lake Lynden for a drive and a splash around.
I was standing at the lake edge when I noticed a silver disk appear in the water. As I watched the disk weaved directly toward me at a very fast pace. The small whirlwind hit the shore right at my left foot and splashed water into my face just as if a dog had been for a swim and shaken off beside me as Wellington would always do.
My thought was that there may well have been three Newfs with us that day.
that all images on this site are copyright.
Wellington was bred by our friends at Newfcorp. His birthday was July 14,1996 and he left the world on September 26, 2008.