Swimming canine in Saint John gives new meaning to sea dog

Unlike other dogs that chase cats and squirrels, Tiffany, a bullmastiff in Saint John, spends much of her time in the water, chasing sea creatures.
Tiffany the bullmastiff's favourite past time is chasing seals off Saint John's Bay Shore Beach. 1:49

Tiffany, a bullmastiff, puts the real sea dogs in Saint John to shame.

Unlike most other dogs that chase cats or squirrels, Tiffany spends most of her time in the water, chasing sea creatures, said owner Ron Dionne.

He takes his "baby girl" out for two or three walks a day along Bay Shore beach, on the city's west side.

"And of course on her way through, she'll see seals and go for a swim" in the Bay of Fundy, he said.

Ron Dionne says Tiffany sometimes swims out a couple of kilometres from shore. (CBC)

"At first, we were a little leery of her because here she'd go out and she'd be gone for a couple of hours at a time.

"You couldn't quite make her out, we had to go and get binoculars so that we could see her," he said, referring to himself and his wife.

They soon realized that once Tiffany catches the scent of something, there's little they can do but wait for her on the beach, he said.

"We brought down a coffee when she'd go on her swim so the wife and I would just sit here and wait for her to come back in."

One day, Tiffany swam past the point on Partridge Island, which is about two kilometres from shore, said Dionne.

That day, Dionne had to eventually go to work. "So I had to get somebody else to drive me … while my wife stayed here and fretted about the dog," he said.

But Tiffany always comes back — and usually with a story, jokes Dionne.

"How many was there?" he asks his beloved pet as she barks in response. "Three? Four? Five?"

Tiffany isn't going as much as she used to, said Dionne. He believes she's starting to show her age, which he estimates is between seven and 11 years old. He got her as a rescue in Alberta, so he can't say for sure, he said.

Still, she's "110 pounds of solid muscle" and a going concern.

"One thing we've just come to realize now is that she just loves swimming," said Dionne. "And if she died out there in the water, at least she'd die happy."