Reindeers are being replaced as Santa’s favourite four legged friend in Dalby as the forest’s festive furry helpers step in once again.
Last year a pack of giant Newfoundland dogs, weighing up to 12 stone each and standing six foot tall on their back legs, proved to be a huge hit carrying Christmas trees from the forest to customer’s cars.
Now the over-size canines have teamed up with the Green Father Christmas, the traditional British version of Santa, to welcome the 2012 festive season.
With the harvesting of 8,000 Christmas trees about to get underway, the first of this year’s crop was delivered to Dalby Forest visitor centre by Santa, decked in green robes and topped with a crown of holly. The tree was drawn in a cart by one of the mighty ‘Newfies’ known as Obi.
Simon Butcher, Forestry Commission recreation ranger, said: “After their stunning début last year we are delighted that the Newfoundland Dogs will be back to delight forest revellers.
“The dogs loved being out and working at Christmas and added to the feel good factor of buying an eco-friendly real tree in Yorkshire’s biggest forest.”
Web-footed Newfies were once used as working dogs by Canadian fishermen to pull nets from the sea as they are fantastic swimmers, employing a canine version of breaststroke, rather than dog paddle.
Also used as water rescue dogs, one is credited for saving Napoleon who fell over-board while escaping from Elba in 1815.
The pack will be helping transport the festive foliage, which will be on sale daily from December 1 to 20, between 10am and 4pm.
The trees on sale will include freshly cut Norway spruce grown in Dalby, supplemented by specimens of Lodgepole pine with its distinctive blue and green tinged needles and the Nordmann Fir.
Forest chiefs are also supplying Norway spruce to other famous woodlands, including Sherwood and Kielder Forests.
The Newfies, owned by members of the Aqua Nova Water Bears training club, are not the only Christmas attractions at Dalby this year.
There will also be weekend horse and carriage rides and Green Father Christmas will spread cheer to youngsters on December 8 and 9, and 15 and 16, and wreath making workshops on December 1 and 2.
Real trees use 10 times fewer materials to produce and five times less energy than artificial trees, so it’s a good way of being kind to the planet.