Here’s what it says on-line: “The Toller is highly intelligent, alert, outgoing, loving, and ready for action, though not to the point of nervousness or hyperactivity. It is affectionate with family members and is good with children, showing patience. Some individuals may display reserved behavior in new situations, but this is not to be confused with shyness… The Toller’s strong retrieving desire coupled with his love of water, endurance and intense birdiness, is essential for its role as a tolling retriever.”

If you want a smart dog this one will be for you. But be careful what you wish for. They can be too smart. You can set your watch by them once they become accustomed to a routine.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers were recognized only relatively recently as a distinct breed. They combine the best of Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Irish Setters and, the author believes, Border Collies. The Toller generally has a slightly sad expression until he is asked to work, at which time he appears to be intensely concentrating and excited.

When one of these dogs is “tolling,” it runs and jumps playfully, supposedly in full view of a flock of ducks all the while waving a feathered tail. Tolling is distinctive and eye-catching. It lures curious ducks within gunshot range and then the Tollers retrieves the downed birds.

Tollers are eager to please and intensely loyal. They can be aloof and this can be surprisingly humorous. Tanzy, the dog in the pictures, for much of her life put on all of the airs of a great lady from North Carolina, with pretensions.

Tollers want to work and they are constantly looking for exercise, excitement, entertainment and things to do. It is said that the Toller generally has a slightly sad expression until asked to work — and that is true. Give them something to do and they concentrate fiercely and are very excited. This is coupled, however, with patience and it is surprising to see how gently and quietly they deal with small children. When you see the a Toller retrieve a tennis ball thrown by the three-year-old for all of four feet time and time again, you appreciate the special character of the breed.

Why are they a classic? They are the best of their kind. Not too big, not too small, loyal and good with everyone. An intelligent companion and a hard-working pet, eager to please. You will rarely find a better friend.