Thundsterdam! by ExpatrordinaryAmsterdam

My Newfoundland Thunder has made a splash on Amsterdam. Whenever we go on a walk, there must be at least five people who will stop us, ask to take a picture, to pet him, ask what he is, how much does he weigh and ooh and aah over him. You hear “Heel mooi!” which means “very beautiful” over and over again. He is a sight. He’s very large, black and white and fluffy. He’s a great big – really big dog.


I am thinking of charging one euro to pet him, two euros to take a photo and three euros for both. We literally cannot get 25 paces in before someone stops us to greet Thunder. Thunder has made his mark – as dogs will do – all over the Museum Quarter.


And Thunder has grown fond of this attention. When we come near a group he instantly veers towards them as if to let folks know, “Yes, I am here, pet me.” And my somewhat quiet husband gets into this act too. He is like a Parisian lady walking her poodle. They both get in this zone where a walk means a prance around the hood where inevitably people will gawk and engage. Are they expecting the doggie paparazzi? Yes, I believe they are.


It was like this back in the US too, but not on this scale. Since we live in a tourist city, perhaps people think he is part of the tour. If I am on the walk too, sometimes I forgo the onslaught of admirers, I am assigned the role of “here hold onto Cookie,” our other, smaller – but cute Coton de Tulear, who gets overshadowed – in more ways than one – by the larger than life Landseer.


While it’s very nice that Amsterdammers and tourists really like Thunder, it can become, at least for me, a teensy bit much. One woman asked if she could put her little girl on him like a pony. We kindly explained that he would not enjoy that. Another man asked to see how tall he was and could we make him stand on his hind legs. We explained he was eight years old and that would be hard for him at that age. I almost asked 20 euros for that one.

My husband insists on taking him almost everywhere – even to dinner. I have to put my foot down if we are going to a nice place because I know not everyone will enjoy eating while tufts of fluff (not the kind that goes well with peanut butter) fly through the air and potentially land in someone’s plate of food, or Thunder decides he wants to stand and not lay down on the floor or the sidewalk and when getting up knocks over glasses, or wags his tail in the guests’ faces behind him.

I have no doubt that Thunder will bring us more friends, more fun and more memories. He will make Amsterdam a happier place for those he meets, for sure. What people do not expect though, when trying to get their petting and photos in, is the icky side of owning and admiring this type of dog. There is drool and dander and shedding that is highly likely to come in contact with his admirers.

The first day we took him for a walk after arriving here, he really made a splash. Literally. Walking towards the iamsterdam letters on the Museumplein, Thudere eyed the “lake” just in front. At the sight of water, he broke loose from his leash and went pouncing in. People around just loved it. They were clapping and cheering and laughing. It was all great fun – until he came bouncing out. The 140 pound soaking wet side show of a dog graced his audience with a very happy shake of what had to be a gallon of water thrown from side to side. At least it was a really hot day. We steer clear of the lake on our walks now.

One great thing about having a dog like Thunder is that he is an instant icebreaker. That’s a pretty nice thing to have when moving to a foreign country. Here’s to Thunder and making a splash on the ‘dam!

Photo credits: Taylor Smith


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