Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Pets

A Landseer Newfoundland inspires a classic love tale

RECOMMENDED READING


It's a classic love tail: Broken man meets broken dog and together they make life good again.

Colin Campbell was a regular guy living a regular life in 2008. He had a nice job, a nice house and a beautiful wife until, as heartache often happens, he returned from a business trip to learn his wife didn't want to be married anymore.

"I really struggled" is Campbell's short description of what went down. "I was shocked. There were no second chances. No discussion about it."

Living in Toronto, working hard as he always had, Campbell's friends grew concerned, suggesting he do something new: get a dog.

Rambling around his house alone and depressed, he went online to a pet rescue site and found about as much dog as any human might bargain for, the kind-faced George, a 140-pound Landseer Newfoundland, though he was a mere pup, just over a year old.

George, too, was in need of saving. He had been abandoned. There was evidence of abuse and neglect. He was wary of men in particular, including Campbell, and had trouble with trust.

Together the two healed, and a move a year later to Los Angeles worked some magic of its own.

Newfoundlands are water dogs, though George had never had the opportunity to experience the ocean.

When Campbell went surfing, George swam right out and hopped on his board, earning accolades over the next three years from the surf crowd at Hermosa Beach and competing a couple of times in a doggie surf competition that raises money for pet rescue.

"I don't think he had ever swam before, but he just instinctively knew how to do it," Campbell said. "He had balance and he had an affinity for it, and he did really well. So George went from homeless in Canada to surf champ in California."

All of this, it turns out, made for a great book, Free Days with George, out from Anchor Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House. The title, Campbell said in a recent interview — with George at his side — comes from something Campbell's grandfather used to say, having saved from drowning three Allied comrades on D-day as they stormed Juno Beach at Normandy.

He, Seymour Wylde Howes III, considered all good days spent doing something you love, with people who love you, free days. "That's a good day," he'd say. "That's a free day on Earth."

That's how it felt for Campbell, surfing with George, loving George, sharing George with all of his admirers.

George, now 8, continues to be a feel-good ambassador for all who meet him. Campbell, 54, and George are on a six-week, cross-country bus tour promoting their book, stopping at animal shelters along the way to drop off donated bags of food and help raise awareness of the need to rescue homeless pets.

Looking back, Campbell recalled how helping George took some time. A meandering bus trip seemed fitting.

"It took about a year for him to trust and to recognize that I was somebody who was helping him," Campbell said.

The takeaway, for Campbell and George, is an obvious one.

"I really credit him for saving my life," Campbell said.

Comments
Hernando Pet of the Week for Nov. 24

Hernando Pet of the Week for Nov. 24

For the months of November and December, $25 adoptions are available on select animals.Lexi is a 1-year-old black mouth cur mix that loves to play, fetch and just be silly. She would love to be part of an active family. Lexi has been spayed, vaccinat...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Find A Friend: Gia, the Schnauzer mix

Find A Friend: Gia, the Schnauzer mix

Time to improvise a familiar holiday jingle: "jhuh-jhuh-Gia!" This friendly face lasts a whole lot longer than those fuzzy animal planters, and she’s a lot more fun to dress up, too. Gia is a 3-year-old, 35-pound, Schnauzer mix in love with toys, peo...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Hernando Pet of the Week for Nov. 17

Hernando Pet of the Week for Nov. 17

Courtesy of Humane Society of the Nature CoastLilith is a 7-year-old tuxedo. She has been waiting patiently for seven months for someone to take her home. Lilith has been spayed, vaccinated and microchipped. Inquiries about adopting Lilith or other c...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/15/17
Hernando Pet of the Week for Nov. 10

Hernando Pet of the Week for Nov. 10

Hernando County Animal Services Cooper is a black and white mountain cur mix participating in the Heel to Heal program at Hernando County Women’s Correctional Facility. He is working with trusties and trainer John Gore from New Sentry K9 Services to ...
Published: 11/06/17
Updated: 11/09/17
Find A Friend: Captain Jack, the dog

Find A Friend: Captain Jack, the dog

Captain Jack is a medium-sized, 11-month-old king of fall fashion. He’s celebrating good health and cooler weather with an accessory he calls "the mutt muffler." Not long ago, this very pup was bedecked in donated koozies (drink holders) used to secu...
Updated one month ago
Hernando Pet of the Week for Nov. 3

Hernando Pet of the Week for Nov. 3

Courtesy of Humane Society of the Nature CoastEllie is a 3-year-old German wirehaired pointer with a lovable beard. She is looking for a family to love and cherish. She is spayed, vaccinated and microchipped. Inquiries about adopting Ellie or other d...
Updated one month ago