Newfs as Search and Rescue Dogs by Jan Boggio and Aura Dean
Newfoundlands show a natural talent with their noses as well as with their sweet personalities. Over land or water, and even over snow, Newfoundlands have helped save many lives.
Until recently, Newfoundlands had their own SAR school: Black Paws, owned and operated by the late Susie Foley and her husband Murphy. As was written in the Black Paws guidelines: "Black Paws members are trained volunteers who share a common desire and goal to assist others in their time of need to find a lost or drowned loved one. We have a great love and respect for the Newfoundland, a dog whose powerful natural life saving instinct has been documented for two centuries. Hence our mission statement: Saving lives with man's best friend, the Newfoundland."
TipTop's Flo-Jo Search and Rescue Dog - photos by Rebecca Stanevich
Flo-Jo scenting on a water search
While Black Paws is no longer in existence, there are still a number of Newfoundland SAR teams hard at work across the country.
Alice Kugelman started the first SAR group in Connecticut. "It has been 11 years since I went to Black Paws," she says. "It is a way of life for me, and I have the support of my family. I am gone a lot on weekends for training, and at other times for searches."
Alice says SAR work isn't for everyone.
"Search work is gritty and can be very nasty. All of Juno's finds were dead, mostly suicides. Now that we are better known as a unit, we get called our right away, so don't work as many 'cold cases.'"
Alice reports that the General Federation of Women's Clubs in Connecticut adopted their SAR group. "We have women all over the state going into schools reading the book, Emma and the Night Dogs which was inspired by our unit and has Newfs in it, and teaching kids the 'Nine rules of Survival in the Woods.'''
Thank you to Sam and Joyce Butler, Nancy Fuhrer, Alice Kugelman, Kathy Reed and Becki Stanevich for sharing their SAR photos and experiences.