Teddy Boy of Galilee
Over the past three years or so if you’ve driven or walked off the Block Island Ferry, there is a good chance you might’ve seen a local guy walking a rather large brindle-colored dog. The guy’s name is Keith Smith and his dog’s name is Teddy Boy, who is a purebred known as a Leonberger. He is a gentle giant. There is so much to like about Teddy Boy; however, I’ll begin with a couple of obvious things I’ve noticed over the years I’ve known this local canine celebrity. First of all, Teddy Boy has an extremely gentle way about him
and he sheds a subtle and protective vibe. Secondly, when he looks you in the eyes you can sense that he is a dog who is loyal to a fault. Most importantly, this sweet, loping and gentle guy will immediately make our blood pressure drop as we can only smile at this cool and collected man-about-the-harbor. Moreover, I literally crack up laughing every time I see this dog - which is often - because he’s our next-door neighbor.
“I was in Home Depot one day,” says Keith Smith, “and a woman had this beautiful dog with her. I was so drawn to this animal, and asked her about him.”
The woman informed Keith Smith of the Leonberger breed, and where he could find such a dog. She also mentioned that this breed had webbed feet. In short order Smith was on his way to Harwich Port on Cape Cod to track down a dog. He was on the hunt. Smith was all in right from the rip. When he brought his new charge home to Galilee his three-and-a-half-month-old puppy weighed 45 pounds. According to Smith, “When he came home he peed only twice and did the other thing once. He just knew after that to do his business outside.” After marking up his territory this very bright Leonberger knew he was home.
The Leonberger breed began in 1830. The dog is named after the town of Leonberg in Germany and the breed is a cross of a male Saint Bernard and a female Landseer N e w f o u n d l a n d. Both of these dogs have land and sea rescuing baked into their DNA. Furthermore, they both have beautiful markings. “I was out swimming in front of George’s and made some arm movements to indicate that I was in trouble,” said Smith. “Teddy Boy saw me and came charging into the ocean to help me.”
The Newfoundland Landseer is primarily a water dog that was used by fisherman from Canada and N e w f o u n d l a n d. Subsequently, the crossing of this breed with a Saint Bernard was a smart move. The resulting Leonberger is a loyal and very protective dog. As I stated earlier, Teddy Boy gives off this kind of vibe. He is a great family dog that is great with children. The guy is also a lovable sort - a real charmer, too.
The Leonberger was bred for hard work and has a double coat; it’s a tough breed. Teddy Boy has a black masked face and we can’t miss him as Keith Smith takes him for his walks around Galilee. Teddy Boy has his own little lagoon in the marshland in back of the Block Island Ferry’s standby lot, and I see him and his master walking by the shack throughout the hot summer days. Again, I crack up every time I see this character walking around the Port of Galilee. What gets me giggling the most is when I see Teddy Boy
sprawled on the living room couch with a huge pillow between his massive jaws. “It’s his security blanket,” says Smith. Even funnier, one day my wife walked by Teddy Boy’s front yard hang, and there was our cairn terrier Maddox sitting on Teddy Boy’s broad back. I mean, where do you go with a visual like this; it’s simply hilarious, but hey, that’s just me.
During World War I and World War II, the hardy, muscular and agile Leonberger breed was used to haul ammunition carts. Sadly, as a result, the breed was nearly decimated after these terrible and warring conflicts. After World War II there were only 12 members of this great breed left and it came very close to extinction. Today, there is a prodigious number - in the thousands - of this wonderful dog. The Leonberger was a good draft dog because of its size and is classified as a Working Dog; however, after spending some time around this bright and intelligent animal I’ve witnessed without question a great family dog.
Deidre LaCasse is a producer, production manager and also works in the art department in the film business. She is a bright and very capable woman. A couple of years ago she was working on a film titled “3 Days Rising.” This movie was written by Derek Cukrowski and Noel Ashman, and directed by Derek’s brother Craig. The script is based on Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” This film is loaded with some great talent: Mickey Rourke, Ice-T, Peter Greene, Kelley Dowdle, Paul Ben-Victor, et al. The gig was shot in New Jersey in a snazzy location that exudes a spooky vibe that would make Poe proud. The film needed a very important canine talent to make this narrative pop, and Deidre LaCasse found Teddy Boy. According to Keith Smith, when they got on location Teddy Boy was well received. “Mickey Rourke and Peter Greene are both dog guys and they loved Teddy Boy immediately.” I can’t see, if you’re a true dog person, how you wouldn’t love this guy - and want to bring him home.
Teddy Boy was picked up in a large SUV and along with Keith Smith and his mother Barbara in Galilee, were taken to the set for the shoot. Keith would act as wrangler working Teddy Boy through his beats in his scenes, and he delivered as a full-on professional. Many of the production crew stayed on location at night and some actors went home to New York City. Teddy Boy stayed on the estate with his humans for the gig. Ahem, he was fed prodigiously. That’s all you’re getting from me regarding the film’s content; you’ll have to wait for the movie’s release in the fall. This is going to play well. Just sayin.’
Finally, if you happen to see Keith Smith and Teddy Boy when you’re coming from or going to Block Island, give this local celebrity a honk and shout, and if you’re lucky maybe you’ll get a paw print - autograph - if Teddy Boy likes you and is so inclined.