Sirena Earns her WWD Title

By Lori DeCheine (October 2012)

Getting started in water work happened when we acquired our first Portuguese Water Dog, Catalina.  Catalina was born and raised on a flagship off the coast of Monterey.  She and her littermates took excursions on a dinghy.  When I flew this puppy home to Minnesota, we would let her out to potty and she would always head to the pool for a swim. I knew we had to learn, and find out, how to train for water work.  With the help and guidance of other club members, attending the summer picnics where a boat was on hand to use, and by trial and error we succeeded in earning water titles.

When Cruz came along, we were seriously into, and thoroughly enjoying, water training by the mere fact that the dogs loved the water and retrieving. We also had the support of other water enthusiasts. We no longer had the home with the pool but had acquired a 10' Walker Bay boat. We built a platform to fit the boat, built a trailer, and teamed up with the other water enthusiasts.  We would haul the boat to a lake, set it on a dolly, and ferry it down to the beach.

After Sirena joined our family, we bought a lake home. 

Seriously, a lot of training happens on land and in your home year around.  The things we did with the kids; sports, dance, etc., I did with the dogs; obedience classes, water training, agility, etc. Take your dogs to the water as often as you can and just have fun with them.  They know when their harness comes on and the water toys come out, the excitement shows.

The reward is in watching the fun and  enjoyment your dog has in the water, and to watch them succeed in what they were bred for, building friendships and camaraderie with other water trial enthusiasts and watching and cheering them on as they succeed with their dogs as well.

Today, our most challenging exercise is training for the buoy ball drop.  We succeed with the exercise on land and in wading depth, but not in transferring the skill to deep water.  With help from seminars and tips from other club members, we hope to succeed at this task.

By the way, my tip for the two-minute swim...a dog does not know time; minutes, hours, seconds.  Why train swimming with them for two minutes, make it one minute.  Swim around the dock with them and back, swim out, come back, make it fun, and make it successful each time.  I don't think we ever did the two-minute swim until trial time.  They achieve their endurance for the two-minute swim while you are training with retrieving articles.  Throw the article farther than necessary, they're swimming, and they are having fun by getting an article.

Some of the most amusing moments happen at water trials; for example, a dog won't jump from the boat so you see the handler jump and retrieve the article while the dog is onboard watching.