Talking with tourists

Gentle giant Newfoundland dog Rocky delights waterfront crowd

Published on August 18, 2017

Milwaukee resident Craig Klover poses with his seven-year-old Newfoundland dog, Rocky.

©Rosalyn Roy / The Gulf News

If there’s one thing sure to draw a crowd of kids, it’s a dog, especially one as big as Rocky. 

The 170-lb. Newfoundland enjoyed about 20 pairs of little hands offering him pats and hugs when he visited the Port aux Basques waterfront with his owner, Craig Klover Saturday, Aug. 5. The pair was waiting to board the ferry, bound for their home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin after visiting family and friends in St. Brendan’s. After the kids left to return to the Astrolabe Day activities, Rocky submitted to a much-needed brushing after a quick dip.

“I took him to Port au Port and I swam him,” said Klover, who tends to summer on the Avalon and is mostly unfamiliar with the west coast. “This is only my third time in Port aux Basques because I drive every couple of years. I usually fly but I wanted to bring him back.”

Rocky’s sheer size means he requires a ramp to climb in and out of the truck, and he’s also had a negative impact on the fuel costs. But as always, the trip has proved worth the long drive.

“Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, none of that is like Newfoundland to me. It doesn’t have the character or the scenery,” said Klover, who finds the beauty and struggles of outport life fascinating.

“St. Brendan’s only has 100 people. It’s the only island in Bonavista Bay and there’s never been a cop on the island. You can’t even buy gas on the island and they’ve been trying to resettle it for like five, 10 years but the people are fighting the government off.”

While Klover got to catch up with loved ones, Rocky would spend long hours in the ocean, which both calms and cools him. Unlike his owner, Rocky was born here, and both of his parents were champion show dogs with strong bloodlines. Klover is still toying with the idea of breeding Rocky, who is now seven.

“At St. Brendan’s he was in the water all day, for hours. He wouldn’t come out. And then when he was done swimming he’d just stay in up to his chest,” said Klover. “He wanted us to throw something so he could fetch it.”

Although Klover had a friend drive to Newfoundland and Labrador with him, for the 30-hour drive that starts once they hit the mainland it’ll just be him and Rocky. While he drove up through Canada to visit a brother in Toronto, he intends to cut down through the States for the return journey.

“The west coast is very different from the east coast,” said Klover, who plans to return to his mother’s for Christmas and hopes to spend more time exploring this side of the island in the future. “It’s as picturesque.”