Drawing by Harrison Weir (1824-1906)
The anecdote I am now about to give is from the pen of the Rev. J.E. Atkinson, a good and scientific naturalist:
"Walking with a favorite Newfoundland dog of great size, one frosty day, I observed the animal's repeated disappointment on putting his head down, with the intention to drink, at sundry ice-covered pools. After one of these disappointments, I broke the ice with my foot, for my thirsty companion's behoof. The next time it seemed good to the dog to try and drink, instead of waiting for me to break the ice as before, he set his own huge paw forcibly on the ice, and, with a little effort, obtained water for himself."
From: Rev. R.O. Morris, B.A. Dogs and Their Doings. N.Y., Harper & Bros, 1872, p. 16f.
(reprinted from NewfTide 1976)
Greater Love Hath No Man by Hilda C. Madsenreprinted from Newf Tide Summer 1980 On the 10th of February, 1980 there was to be an important show in Milan, Italy, and Dr. Carlo Orlandi had entered his young Newf in the Open Class. Algol delle Aque Celesti was just about two years old.
For several days heavy rain had drenched the western part of Italy where the Orlandis lived, and on the Friday preceding the show torrential rains had turned the usually placid local stream into a swift river rushing down to the sea, sweeping trees and debris along its path. In view of the weather, the doctor and his wife decided to have Algol bathed and groomed professionally. Dr. Orlandi would take him into town with him, and pick him up on his way home from his last rounds at the hospital.
Around 11 :00 P.M. when they still had not returned home Mrs. Orlandi
started to worry and called the hospital. Upon hearing that they had left several hours ago she panicked and called the police. Then, with dire premonitions, she grabbed a flashlight and crossed the fields to the little bridge that spanned what was normally the little creek which had to be crossed to reach their Villa from the highway. When she got there the creek was a raging torrent. She could see a small portion of the car with the shape of her husband on it next to the black form of the dog.
Police investigation determined that crossing the little parapetless bridge, the car was either pushed off or the doctor misjudged and turned off too soon. I n any event the car went over the side, landing upside down in nine feet of water, and caused the doctor's clothing to get tangled in the foot pedals of the car.
The subsequent heroism of this young dog, barely out of puppyhood, passes all human imagination. Algol must have dived countless times to wrench his master free and pull him through the window. The doctor was a big man and the wet clothing was extremely hard to tear free. The incredible effort made by the dog was clearly seen by the lacerations on the man's wrists made by the dog's teeth. Though by this time the dog was completely waterlogged, he managed to drag his beloved master down through the window and up onto the small part of the car that jutted up out of the water. Then, in what must have been a very last supreme effort. he put his muzzle on his dead master's chest. Perhaps he never knew that the doctor had died instantly from a head wound so that the gift of his life was in vain.