PO Box 143
Woolwich, Maine 04579
(207) 985-6134

The SAFE HAVEN Project





The mission of the SAFE HAVEN Project, led by Nors of Maine, is for the preservation and advancement of the Newfoundland dog, by rescuing unfortunate Newfoundlands that may be abused, abandoned, neglected, or left
in animal shelters.

In launching this fundraising project for Newfoundland Dog Rescue, Nors, a Maine-based company selling marine-related goods, volunteered to spearhead the project, given the critical need for financial support and recognizing the breed's rich history and association with the water.

The concept behind SAFE HAVEN is to design and manufacture, an exclusive line of SAFE HAVEN totes, duffels, and sail bags, made from old, discarded sail material. All profits from the sale of these goods will be donated to Newfoundland Dog Rescue Programs. For the next twelve months, Nors will solicit the donation of used sails from the private and business sector. Obtaining used, discarded, or decommissioned sails that will be recycled into SAFE HAVEN products, is a key to the success of the project.  Be it a Main, a Genoa, a Spinnaker- any sail, any size, in any condition, Nors will gladly accept them. Torn, ripped, repaired, Dacron, nylon or canvas, all or at least parts of them, can be recycled into SAFE HAVEN goods. Response to the search for sails is growing. Already, sailing clubs and sailmakers have committed to donating sails for the program.

As with other breeds, Newfoundland dogs sometimes fall victim to bad luck through no fault of their own. Like the Newfoundland Dog Club of America, Nors believes that Newfoundland dogs should not be acquired casually or
disposed of lightly. However, sometimes an owner's circumstances change and the dog is found to be unsuited to his or her present home. On these occasions, Newfoundland Rescue organizations intervene to find a new, suitable, permanent home where the Newfoundland will be loved, cared for, and respected for it's unique qualities, in a safe and nurturing environment.

The current population of Newfoundland dogs in the US is estimated at 30,000. The Newfoundland Club of America has twenty-six regional clubs across the USA, most of which maintain a Rescue Service. Each of the regional clubs averages over 20 Newfs a year that are assisted by their Rescue Service. This represents well over 500 rescues a year nationwide. Newfoundland Rescue groups maintain waiting lists of pre-screened adoptive homes that are interested in acquiring a Newfoundland. Newfoundlands become available for adoption from many sources including owners, breeders, humane shelters, animal control agencies, veterinarians, etc. In some case, due to the conditions of how a Newfoundland has been maintained, authorities have to intervene and physically remove the dog from the home. Situations vary case by case.

Any pure breed Newfoundland that is legally turned over to a Rescue Program is immediately examined by a local veterinarian. This includes a detailed health check, vaccinations, and if needed, and is spayed or neutered. In some cases, based on public complaints, police reports, etc., a Rescue League may take direct action in removing a Newf from an environment which has been determined to be detrimental to the dog's well being. A relocated Newf is in turn, often placed in a foster home for an undetermined length of time (depending on the Newf's condition), for a complete evaluation of the Newf's retraining, rehabilitation, and restoration of health. The Newf will be kept in foster care as long as necessary to prepare it for entry into its new and permanent home.

Before any adoption is made, the new owner is required to complete a detailed questionnaire and interview process in order to access the suitability. In addition, an on-site visit is made to the potential adoptee's home to determine if they and their home environment would be suitable for a Newfoundland dog.

The breed's true origin appears somewhat hidden in the mist of time. Three main theories seem to circulate about them. First, the theory that the Newfoundland Dog evolved from the now extinct Black Wolf, perhaps by crossings with Asiatic Mastiffs that entered North America from Asia. The second theory explains that the breed was developed by crossings of native wolves, and/or native Indian dogs, and the dogs the Vikings brought to Vinland (Norse name for Newfoundland), around 1000 AD. The third major theory is that the Newfoundland Dog owes its existence to the mastiffs, sheepdogs and waterdogs brought to the new continent by the fifteenth and sixteenth century European explorers, and have developed as a result of the interbreeding of these dogs. The Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada explains the breed by stating: "The breed originated in Newfoundland from dogs indigenous to the island, and the big black bear dogs introduced by the Vikings in 1001 AD. With the advent of European fishermen, a variety of new breeds helped to shape and re-invigorate the breed, but the essential characteristics of the Newfoundland dog remained. By the time of colonization of the island in 1610, the distinct physical characteristics and mental attributes had been established in the breed for all time." When analyzing all this information, one can assume that the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada's explanation is most likely the right theory. Especially since we know that the Vikings in Scandinavia, had large dogs to protect their livestock, and since skeletons of large and powerful dogs were found in the remains of the Viking settlements in Newfoundland, discovered by the Norwegian Viking researchers Helge and Anne-Stine Ingstad. It is believed that the Bear-dogs" of the Vikings interbred with the large black and white waterdogs of the Beouhik Indians, a tribe that once lived on the northeast coast of America. Nearly 500 years after the Viking settlement Newfoundland was rediscovered, and the British annexed the island. Between the Vikings and the British, the Newfoundland Dog developed into a very unique dog, large and black, functioning well in water and on land. From 1700, we know that there were large and powerful dogs that were companions to men, both in the fishing boats and in the forest. The fishermen of Newfoundland used the dogs to pull their fishing nets and hawsers- up onto the shore. On land, the dogs were used to pull carts loaded with fish and wood. Some of the Newfoundland dogs were later used as "mail dogs".

No matter the exact history of this breed, The SAFE HAVEN Project is dedicated to helping create a safe, caring, and nurturing environment for every Newfoundland dog. Nors is committed to the success of the project, and the realization of generating much needed funds for Newfoundland Rescue. Nors will promote the SAFE HAVEN Program at sailing and rowing regatta events where it exhibits, on its web site, in its media advertising, and through the Nors newsletter RUNES and its catalog.

The SAFE HAVEN Project, with public and private support, will go a long way in helping finance Newfoundland Dog Rescue Programs across the country. Nors is proud to partner in this important work. The concept of recycled sails playing an important role in the renewed life of Newfoundland dogs is obviously, an appropriate metaphor.

Donation of sails may be shipped to SAFE HAVEN, c/o NORS, PO Box 143,
Woolwich, Maine 04579 USA, or to the physical address of SAFE HAVEN c/o NORS,
372 Bald Head Road, Island of Arrowsic, Maine 04530 USA.

Photo of Sea Bags
(To purchase, contact Nors at the above address )

Editor's Note:  The Safe Haven Project received this story from Jeanne Alford who lives in Sitka, Alaska with her husband Randy, Cassie a rescue Newf, Tajna, Cassie's daughter, & Winky an American Eskimo dog.  This is an extract from Jeanne's diary.

CASSIOPEIA . . . Rescue Newf 2 the Rescue

It was almost two years after our Newf had passed away. As a result, our American Eskimo dog seemed to have lost his joyous personality with her death.  For 5 months I had a standing query with kennels asking for, if not a puppy, then a rescue Newf.

In August 03, a California kennel phoned, asking if we'd consider an older female.  This breeder had bought back 12 dogs from another breeder, who had gone through a divorce.  With 9 dogs of her own, it was imperative to find homes for the 12 dogs. The puppies went quickly but nobody wanted the older female.  The breeder had spent 4 months looking for a home for her. Then she read my letter and decided one more call before they put the female down.

I was ecstatic and said we'd take her, but was concerned over her mental state, ripped away from her home.  The breeder told us how the Newf had bloodied her nose until is was forever scarred by rubbing it on the chain link fence starring at the last place she'd seen her former owners.  In late August she arrived in Alaska.  I opened the crate and stared into an inky blackness.  She moved towards my outstretched hand, my eyes met hers and electricity shot between us --- she gently leaned forward and accepted my offer, and before I knew it, we were outside walking together.  Randy, my husband, took her great head in his hands, gently talking to her frightened face --- she would have none of him, she had bonded with me.  The universe aptly named her --- for her personality unfolded like the stars and constellations almost too beautiful to behold.

With no idea if she'd been exposed to small dogs, we were wary of introducing her to our American Eskimo. Winky threw caution to the wind and pushed himself into her face with a little whining cry.  With great dignity and gentleness, she laid her head over his back as she stood there hugging him, while he quivered and cried.  Time went by and Cassie's discovery of Randy's undemanding love for her was finally returned by the devotion and trust he earned. Add to that, the growing love for a little white dog.

In October, we arrived at Baranof Island, to care take the Baranof Wilderness Lodge for 8 months.  It's remote with no one for miles. (In the summer we live aboard a trimaran.)  The lodge docks can be treacherous if your not watching your footing.  A family of 15 river otters live across the bay from us and come to these docks searching for mussels and fish.  It drives the dogs crazy.  The otters hiss and chirp and the dogs run around barking in a frenzy. Otters, given the chance, will gang up on a dog caught in the water, and maul it while pulling it under.

I was down below in the boat packing and had left Cassie and Winky on the dock. I heard the ruckus topside and assumed the otters had arrived but did not worry.  Randy, up at the lodge, did not hear anything.  Suddenly Cassie appeared in the doorway barking frantically.  She immediately ran off the boat --- I thought she was just playing. Then I heard her deep bark and when she went silent I realized I did not hear Winky barking!  I knew instantly he was in the water.  I climbed out of the boat to see Cassie with her head completely underwater between the 2 docks. She came up with a mouthful of white hair --- but no Winky.  I flung myself into the crack --- I could hardly see his legs kicking, he was barely holding his own.  The otters had pulled him under the dock and he was stuck, his little nose crammed into a crack for air. Unfortunately he was tiring and would sink if the otters didn't get him first. They were biting him --- I screamed for Randy, praying he would hear me.  Cassie ran to the lodge barking ferociously at Randy --- he instinctively knew something was wrong.  Cassie ran back to the docks with Randy behind her. When she reached me I was trying to find Winky under the dock with my hand. I could not find him!  Suddenly Cassie again stuck her head completely underwater.  I was able to follow with my fingers down her nose, and grab my little white dog --- we pulled him to safety together.  On the dock, Cassie fussed over him like a puppy that had been bad, growling and poking, and tried to pick him up by his ruff.  Winky was soaked, cold, scared, and bitten, but was not hurt badly . . . he was alive!

Mid October- 2 weeks later

There had been a Brown bear hanging around the lodge that fall and it had become quite bold.  He'd been trying to tear open the smoker and the freezers so we tried driving it off with a variety of tactics but the bear did not leave                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 the area.  Winter was moving in and as the fish in the creek left, the bear had begun to root closer to us.

The bear grew bolder.  One morning we discovered him on the boardwalk.  Randy chased it off with the dogs.  We called wildlife control but they said we were out of their jurisdiction, and they would not live trap it to remove it. They could however, kill it. But we did not want it to come to that.

Two nights later, things came to a head. It was storming and the wind was blowing hard, so Randy went down to the dock to check the boat lines. It was not quite dark, and with Randy halfway to the do  the bear jumped out of the woods in front of him. Unarmed, Randy yelled and waved his arms. This time the bear did not move ---  he turned and charged.  Watching from the doorway, I immediately saw what happened.  I did the only thing I could do, grabbed the gun and turned the dogs out.  Cassie literally roared her challenge to the intruder, racing to Randy's aid with a frightening fierceness. Without a thought for her own safety she flung herself between the bear and my husband, giving Randy his chance to escape.  Armed with the gun, I came running towards them. I knew we had to try and save Cassie from certain death.

The bear rose up on its hind legs in surprise.  Cassie was leaping at him, snarling with rage. The bear was reaching for her, when out of the blue this streak of white shot right past Cassie towards the bear. Winky latched viciously onto the bear's butt! The bear distracted, forgot about Cassie and turned, with that little dog swinging like a fat tick on his butt. Winky's teeth must have connected, because the next thing we heard was the bear roar in pain and turned to run away --- with Cassie and Winky literally on his tail. Cassie survived because of a little white dog who owed her a life debt. We were stunned! Checking both dogs we were amazed they escaped a mauling. For the next month, we never went anywhere without a rifle. The bear never returned.

I don't know why things work out the way they do, but there are no words that can describe how we feel about Cassie. I'm so grateful that she came to us --- I feel safer this year than ever before, knowing Cassie is by our sides looking out for us. Sweet Cassie, always there, pressing tightly against our legs, reassuring us with her very great presence; protecting us, as is her job. I only hope we replenish her hurt soul with enough love and tender embraces, to caress away the trauma of her past, & eventually replace it with thoughts only of us and the life we all share.

We've returned to the island again this year with an addition, Tajna --- pronounced TY-ANN-A. It's Russian for mystery. She is Cassie's puppy from a June litter. We call her Tazilla (like Godzilla) because she is so big for her age and already bigger than her mom. We are surely a family by any definition of the word. The Newfs and Winky wrap themselves around my feet as I type these last few sentences.