Taking his dog, Deacon, for a walk can often take Bob Zimmerling a long time because so many people stop him to marvel at the Newfoundland’s size.
“We walk slow,” Zimmerling, of Gearhart, said. “That’s fine with me. We’re not going anywhere in a hurry.”
Deacon was one of the big, furry, drooling stars on Wednesday afternoon at the 25th annual Seaman’s Day at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. The dogs and their owners are invited to the park in honor of Meriwether Lewis’ Newfoundland, Seaman, who was recorded in journals as a companion, watchdog and protector on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
The Newfoundland breed is known for size — adult dogs can weigh from 100 to 150 pounds — thick fur, calm personality and constant slobber.
Many of the owners who attend Seaman’s Day are loyal to the event and the breed. Donna Azevedo, from Happy Valley, brought her first Newfoundland to the celebration 11 years ago. Now, she’s on her fifth Newfoundland and tries to attend every year.
“They are just so loving and such sweethearts,” she said.
Owners acknowledge some drawbacks, like cleaning hair and drool and training the gentle giants not to pull on leashes or playfully jump on people and knock them over. Some hotels don’t allow dogs that size to stay in hotel rooms with owners. And normal dog waste bags available in parks usually aren’t big enough.
Ed Simstone, from Denver, has leaned into the historical component of the breed. In 2011, Simstone hiked up to Lewis and Clark Pass in Montana wearing elk skin moccasins with his Newfoundland, Seaman. On his way back this year, Simstone plans on hiking the trail with Seaman again, bringing his two other Newfoundlands along this time, too.
Even with all the maintenance, many Newfoundland owners can’t imagine themselves with another breed.
“If you want a dog that’s loyal and loving and friendly, you can’t go wrong,” said Jack Chapman, from Warrenton. “If you value a clean and immaculate house, wrong animal for you.”