The Dog Statues

Harbourside Park & Signal Hill

When Luben Boykov came to Canada as a refugee from Bulgaria in 1990, he didn’t know a lot about Newfoundland and Labrador, but as an animal lover, he recognized the names.

“I can’t think of many other places in the world with a name represented by two internationally known breeds of dog,” says Boykov, an artist and sculptor who studied at the Bulgarian Academy of Fine Arts.

Years later, Boykov was commissioned to sculpt two sets of Newfoundland dogs and Labrador retrievers at Harbourside Park and Signal Hill.

Boykov spent two years working on the Harbourside project at his foundry in Logy Bay, completing the sculptures in 2003. The second pair was completed in a year, and put on display in 2008.

The dogs are one-and-a-half life size, made from cast bronze, with an inner stainless steel skeleton.

“They’re bigger than life, but not overwhelmingly big, so people can still relate to them, go pet them and climb and ride them,” says Boykov. “That was the idea: to make them very interactive.”

Like any sculpture, this project needed models, and Boykov put the word out that he was looking for Labs and Newfs interested in being immortalized. Abraham, a burly Newfoundland dog, and Hudson, a feisty Labrador, we’re volunteered for duty. The trouble, Boykov said, was getting them to pose.

“The Newfoundland dog, being a docile animal, was much easier,” he says. “But the Lab was rambunctious. It was a nightmare to keep him still.”

Boykov continues to get emails from tourists who liked the statues, which he says reflects how popular the breeds have become.

“Today I received another email from a person commenting on the dogs and how much they enjoyed them,” he says. “I get emails from all over the world from people who have been here and seen them. They are meaningful to people.”

— Shawn Hayward
Suggestion for a nook?


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