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They are big, furry and desperate to give Christmas revellers a helping paw in Dalby Forest.
A pack of Newfoundland Dogs has been recruited by the Forestry Commission to help carry Christmas trees back to visitor’s cars when festive sales begin in the 3,440 hectare (8,600 acre) beauty spot, near Pickering, North Yorkshire.
The gentle giants, weighing up to 12 stone, are owned by enthusiasts from the Aqua Nova Water Bears training club and will be bidding to raise funds for local charities through donations for each tree transported.
Web-footed “Newfies” were once used as working dogs by Canadian fishermen to pull nets from the sea as they are fantastic swimmers, employing a canine version of breaststroke rather than dog paddle. Also used as water rescue dogs, one is credited for saving Napoleon who fell over-board while escaping from Elba in 1815.
Yvonne Bone, who was a life-long cat fancier began clapping eyes on a Newfie in Dalby ten years ago, and who now co-ordinates the group set up earlier this year, said:
“They are docile and wonderful with children, but because they are such a big dog they are more of a lifestyle than a pet. They are a little known breed in the UK, but we are dedicated to keeping them active doing the things they were bred for. They love being out and working at Christmas.”
Katie Thorn, Forestry Commission Recreation Manager, added:
“It’s a fantastic crowd pleasing way to buy a tree and have the dogs tow it back to the car in a cart. Real trees use 10 times fewer materials to produce and five times less energy than artificial trees so it’s a good way of being kind to the planet.”
Forest chiefs in the North York Moors are also supplying Norway Spruce to other famous woodlands – including Sherwood and Kielder Forests. But plenty of fragrant specimens will be staying putt along with Lodgepole pine and Nordmann fir to satisfy local demand for eco-friendly trees.
The dogs will in Dalby on the weekends of 10/11 and 17/18, along with a green Father Christmas – the traditional English Santa. Tree sales operate daily at Dalby Forest Visitor Centre from 1 – 22 December, 10am to 4pm. Forest toll charges will be refunded when buying a tree. You could also win two tickets for next year's Summer concerts in Dalby Forest by posting a picture of a your fabulous tree on the Forestry Commission's Flicker site at www.flickr.com/groups/gbforestrycommission. The one judged to be the best decorated will carry off the brilliant prize for its owner.
For more information call 01751 460295.
Notes to Editor
- Which is the right tree for you:
Norway Spruce, made famous by Prince Albert in the 19th century, has a mid-green colour, fine delicate foliage and grand conical stature. It also has a distinctive 'Christmassy' aroma.
Lodgepole Pine is an extremely fragrant conifer with an attractive blue and green tinge and soft needles.
Nordmann fir has distinctive broad, bold green needles and contrasting whitish undersides.
- These simple tips will keep your tree in fine fettle well into the New Year.
Cut off at least one inch from the bottom of the trunk and gently shake the tree to remove any loose needles.
Pot the tree with the trunk immersed in water - don't use sand or soil in the tree stand as they restrict water from being drawn up into the trunk.
Top up the tree stand with water every day.
- The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. For more visit www.forestry.gov.uk/yorkshireandthehumber
Media calls to Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038.