Tuesday, September 28, 2021

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People & Pets

Enormous dog


Michael Pareene takes his Newfoundland dog, Tinker Bell, on walks at the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden. He thought it would be funny to give a massive dog a tiny-sounding name.

When Michael Pareene takes Tinker Bell for a walk, he is stopped multiple times with common questions. What kind of dog is that? How big is it? Can I pet it?

Tinker Bell, a black Newfoundland, obliges and rolls on its back as gracefully as a 145-pound dog can. Its long flowing fur looks like someone haphazardly placed a black bear rug on its large body. Its dreamy-like eyes inspect, saying, “What’s the fuss? I just want to be petted, so keep doing what you’re doing.”

Michael and his wife, Wendy, adopted the puppy when it was a mere 30 pounds. They knew it was coming from a 180-pound mother. Wendy wanted a large dog with a deep bark to deter strangers when Michael was out of town on business.

Taking Tinker Bell on a walk is a workout in itself, as the dog has pulled Wendy off her feet. Walking gets Michael out of the house, which is especially important after his heart attack several years ago.

“I’m not sure what I’d be doing if I didn’t have her to take for walks,” he says.

He’s taken Tinker Bell to dog parks, the Capitol and the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden. The pair not only gets fresh air, but the interaction with curious onlookers is a benefit of having a unique dog.

“The best part about her is you get to meet so many people,” he says.

Children are in awe of Tinker Bell but approach hesitantly due to its size.

“She’s very mellow and calm,” Michael says. “People respond to the calmness in her. She loves to roll over and let people pet her.”

Newfoundlands were originally known as water rescue dogs and can weigh up to 260 pounds. Their double coat consists of an oily outer coat and a soft inner coat, which allows for water survival. Slightly webbed feet aid in swimming, and their tail is used as a rudder. Once considered a noble dog, Napoleon was supposedly rescued by a Newfoundland when he fell off a boat.

That’s why Michael rarely takes Tinker Bell to any body of water.

“I have to be careful if I take her to the beach,” he says. “She might drag people out of the water.”

With its huge size, Tinker Bell doesn’t eat as much as you might think.

“She’s not a hyperactive dog and doesn’t have a high metabolism,” Michael says.

Michael attempts to understand dog behavior and feels that Tinker Bell has human-like qualities.

“Dogs have the same emotions as humans, but they don’t have any of the bad emotions, which is why they’re good as pets,” he says.

Tinker Bell’s favorite activity is going for walks and simply being petted.

“She doesn’t do any tricks,” he says. “She’s just a dog. But she’s a friend.” ♦

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