Plymouth Dog’s Ancestors Among First Settlers

English Mastiff

Coming from old New England families and being a dog-lovers, (Helen and I have two Shelties,) I was surprised to learn that the Pilgrims actually brought dogs with them to the new world. This article is from The Patriot Ledger.

From The Patriot Ledger: 


PLYMOUTHOld English mastiffs made voyage on the Mayflower

 He weighs 250 pounds and devours 7 pounds of food a day. He drools and his tongue hangs out.

But this 3-year-old prize-winner old English mastiff sits with his head held high, like any New Englander who knows his ancestor came over on the Mayflower.

Pilgrim, Darren Gobbi’s friendly dog, has become something of a celebrity around the Plymouth waterfront.

Gobbi and Pilgrim have been known to attract crowds as they walk past the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock. “People are in awe of this 250-pound dog with an enormous head and the friendly look in his eyes,” Gobbi said.

He answers the usual questions – “How much does he weigh, how much does he eat, how old is he”– then gives a brief a history lesson about the breed.

Historians say Pilgrims brought mastiffs and spaniels with them when they came to the New World on the Mayflower. “There is the story of some Pilgrims going off hunting and getting lost in a snowstorm. They snuggled up next to their mastiff and kept warm,” Gobbi said.

He was unsure he wanted a pet when two of his daughters asked for a dog. “I gave them a bunch of chores to do and said if they did them all, we’d see,” he said.

The girls finished the tasks and Gobbi gave in, never expecting that he would end up with such a large breed.

“The girls had worked on a school project on the Pilgrims, and when I asked what kind of dog they wanted, they said a mastiff, like the Pilgrims had,” Gobbi said.

Pilgrim came from a breeder in Pennsylvania, part of a litter of 12. “I believe to this day, he is the only one from that litter that became a champion,” Gobbi said.

He said he had considered getting Pilgrim neutered when someone suggested he begin showing him at competitions.

Soon after, Gobbi and his three daughters, Christina, 14, Sarah, 12 and Juliana, 4, were going to dog shows and Pilgrim, whose American Kennel Club name is Madigans Pilgrim of Plymouth, was winning one best-of-breed award after another.

While most dogs are presented at shows by professional handlers, Gobbi shows Pilgrim.

“We pull up to a show. I throw on a tie. He jumps out of the back of the Suburban, goes in and wins the show, then jumps right back in the Suburban and we drive off,” he said.

After the show, Pilgrim goes back to being a family pet. “He’s gentle and has the friendliest look in his eyes,” Gobbi said. He is planning to have the dog certified to visit patients in nursing homes.

Gobbi says he expects nursing home residents will have the same questions about Pilgrim’s size and eating habits that people ask when they see the dog walking around Plymouth Harbor.

The answer: Pilgrim eats two meals a day for a total of about 7 pounds of food. He eats fruit and vegetables and some meat, and he is especially fond of blueberries, melons and apples.



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