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What Does Having An Old Newfie Feel Like?

The other day I had someone ask me, ” How do you stay so strong when you know they are getting older and struggling?”

This isn’t the first time that someone has asked me this and I’m sure many people have had the same thoughts as I share pictures and videos of Sherman and Leroy in their senior years. 

It’s a good question and a hard question and something that I’ve been thinking about a lot in the last few days. 



Caring for a Newfie throughout their life is an act of love, bravery, strength, patience, compassion, humor, and endurance. 

It has very high ups and very low downs and it’s one of those things that is very, very hard to explain to someone unless they have experienced it for themself. 

Sherman passed away only a few short months ago and while I still miss him terribly, I remember the good times and the good feelings way more than I remember the very brief bad times. 

The day we said “see you later” is overshadowed by all the wonderful days we spent together. 

With my experience with senior Newfs, there are different types of stages for me once they get to be seniors. 

Around age 7 I realized that they were now considered a senior and my heart hurt because I knew that we had fewer years together ahead of us than we did behind us. 

I got sad starting to think about the “what if’s”.

What if this is their last snow? Last birthday? 

But then they reached 10 and my mentality switched. 

I have a 10-year-old Newf!

Let’s do this!

It was then less of a sad feeling and more alright, what can I do to help them?

I LOVE caring for my senior boys. 

It has been my most favorite stage of life with them.

It’s absolutely a labor of love. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are difficult times, bad days and heart-wrenching decisions but I learned to focus more on the good days.

Your mentality changes a bit.

For instance, instead of being sad that Leroy hasn’t had much snow to enjoy so far this season, I’m more “O.k. No snow, no ice, I don’t have to worry about you slipping or falling,  let’s bring out the poles and exercise.”

Some days it’s draining and hard and filled with struggles and a poopie butt but then the next day is better. 

I do my best not to feel sorry for him, I am proud of him and you should be too. 

I’m not striving to have the longest-living Newfoundland. 

I’m striving to have the longest-living Leroy because, from a medical standpoint, Leroy shouldn’t still be here. 


I follow Leroy’s lead and I build on his weaknesses. 

Leroy can’t get up on his own anymore?

Let’s get him a harness. 

Leroy falls sometimes. 

It’s ok. I’m there to pick him up. 

At least I can pick him up. 

At least he’s still moving. 

brown newfoundland dog in buffalo pajamas

Bad days are ahead, they always are but we’ll get through it.

If Leroy stumbles, don’t be sad, I’m not.  

He is 11 1/2 years old and I would rather have him stumble than not be able to walk at all.

I’ve invested years in making sure that he continues to move into his senior days. 

All those walks, hill work and poles have been leading up this. 

Dogs give us so much unconditional love and help us through some of the most trying times of our lives. 

The very least that I can do is care for them and love them with a happy heart for as long and as best as I can. 

Old Newfies are a true blessing and that’s how I get through it. 

Senior Newfies deserve our admiration and our support.

Owners of old Newfies should feel proud; that’s what having an old Newfie should feel like. Pride. 

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Tuesday 14th of January 2020

We lost our landseer girl Chauncey at 15 1/5 a few years ago. Our current boy, Nate was rescued by us when he was 7. He's now 11+ and still runs like a puppy when I toss that biscuit 10 feet or so for him to chase down every evening. He gets rimadyl for pain relief ( arthritis in a rear knee) and dasaquin every day for joint health. His hips are pretty good and he has a nice thick coat.

There is nothing like an older healthy Newf. They know exactly what you want, and what they want. He talks to me with little soft woofs telling me what he wants , and I talk to him, and we both understand each other.


Tuesday 21st of January 2020

I couldn't agree more Todd. Older Newfies are the BEST!

Christine Mullis

Friday 10th of January 2020

I love this article Jen. Love your positivity and reverence for the natural passages of life. Since Sam turned 8 this past November, I too am realizing I won't have this precious creature in my home forever, and it makes me make the most of each day. I'm so lucky to have him by my side pretty much all day (he sleeps a lot by me at the computer). I'm so lucky he hasn't had any major issues yet, but I know one day they will come. I want to be just like you, and take it in stride instead of letting sadness overtake me. They live so much in the moment, and we need to follow their lead. And when he comes bouncing in the room and wants to play, I get my butt up and play because I know how much I'll regret it later if I don't. They have so much to teach us. Thank you for another great article!!


Thursday 9th of January 2020

It's hard and painful and unexpected. They turn a light on in your heart, your mind and your spirit. Then they begin to fail physically. This turn is so unexpected, you can't breathe when it happens. You just dove into the iciest water imaginable. Bright eyes gain redness and the sockets elongate. Hips no longer go up hills that were always easy. The magnificent head turns to you with shock, pain and "what the heck isn't right here". You can't help. So you do everything you can possibly do to take their brilliant, "I can do this!" mind off what they can't do and turn it around into what they can do. And what they can now do doesn't matter as much to them as what they could do. This has been my unimaginably painful, excoriating, experience. We've been doing this for many a year with our beloved's. Halter's help. So do two people who help get your beloved up and down, out the door, go to the bathroom, the bathtub and their feeding stations. Nothing has ever helped me overcome, get past, forget, the look my dearest loves have given me when they can't understand or overcome their deficits. What was is no more. I can't get past that look. It continues to devastate me. Yet, I cannot give up the want, the desire, the need for one more magnificent being in my life. When we are dedicated to these magnificent creatures who live their lives five to eight years at a time to our one year, nothing we can do will be enough. At least, and unapologetically, this has been true for me. I keep hoping, and thinking, we can get to 15 years. It has yet to happen. 14 has been our outside limit. That limit doesn't make me feel better for those who didn't get there. I am a failure everyday. I am old now. Yet I cannot live a life, breathe a breath, without three by my side. I am loved, gifted and consoled by my girls. The ones that went before and the ones that are with me now, inform every moment of my day. Loving them as eldsters is no different than adoring them as babies. Only the hopes and dreams for them change. I've noticed that the hopes and dreams for me have changed as well. Love them, be with them, help them as long as you are able.

Padraig Walker

Thursday 9th of January 2020

Irish Wolfhound lurker here. I enjoyed hearing about you and your seniors what Irish Wolfhound folk call Veterans. One outher joy of the seniors are that they become soooo smart! They know everything you are going to to or go and they know it five minutes before you do. They also know when it is 8:00 pm and time for a treat and shame on you if you don't get up immediately and get it.

At specialty dog shows I always watch the puppies and the Veterans even if I have no one entered. I will admit that watching the Veteran classes often make me tear up with memories of my Veterans that have passed. Veterans/Seniors are special and have much to teach us about life and love.



Thursday 9th of January 2020

While, we do not have a Newfoundland, we have a senior maremma called Itai. He came to live with us four years ago after a number of not the best living situations. Itai is now 12 years old and we love him to pieces. He is a joy to have in our home. Everyday is the best day ever, according to him. Every morning starts with a tasty treat. He still goes out and bark at whatever is out there. All I can say is I would willingly take into our home another senior dog . Itai health is excellent even if his coat needs more attention.


Thursday 9th of January 2020

Maremmas are gorgeous! Thank you for sharing Itai's story with me! I like his approach to living every day as the best day ever! <3

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