The History Behind our Club

It all started with the first litter of Portuguese Water Dogs that were whelped in the Twin Cities region in early 1985 by Ch. Captree Lote x Ch. Weathervane's Neocles Charo. This served as a sea change for the breed in the state and region; that brought together a dog-loving group of relatively new PWD owners, who gathered for the first time in October 1985. In those formative days, they had just a few noble goals in mind:

  • Share ideas and information
  • Pursue same joy with a delightfully smart and active breed
  • Learn and grow a healthy breed presence in the Twin Cities region

What began as an informal gathering has grown over the years, yet retained its focus to appeal to both the serious dog fancier and experienced competitor to the novice pet owner and budding competitor. And, the founders were thinking of the future – not just their generation; as one founder said: “we wanted to map out how we could go from near extinction to growing back to health …” and setting the Club and breed up for success in our region and beyond.

In its first year, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of the Twin Cities drew 25 members (and 13 PWDs) from four states, attracted new followers of the breed and achieved a number of milestones.

  • One Companion Dog title
  • Two litters whelped
  • Nine breed championships
  • Fun match and workshop
  • Published brochure on breed and club
  • Commitment to working, learning and enjoying as they better the future of PWDs

The founding members of the Club wasted no time getting down to business. Its first president was Helen Berg, a lifelong enthusiast and teacher, who partnered with vice president, Letty Afong, an avid steward of the breed’s potential and personality.

In early 1986, the bylaws were drafted and approved and committees started planning a number of events for the year. By the close of that first full year, the Club had hosted two obedience and conformation workshops … a solid foundation that yielded five or more conformation championship titles within two years as well as several obedience degrees.

True to the breed’s form, a Water Fun Day was held in 1987 … it has become a major event for the Club and grown even as it’s moved around to several of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes! This athletic group also stepped into agility work in those early days; it incorporated an Agility Seminar into the Second Annual Meeting in 1988. By the end of the first few years, the Club had grown to 48 members in 7 states and established a track record of teaching owners how to partner in competition with their PWDs, hosting events to successfully compete at higher levels and workshops to better prepare for ownership of this extraordinarily intelligent and capable breed.

Of course, the Club also focused on critical ownership issues like health and grooming. In 1988, one of the founders Letty Afong organized a storage disease blood sampling to elevate the importance of understanding potential health problems in the breed. And Master Groomer Peg Thomas offered a grooming demonstration – “since many had not yet been exposed to the traditional techniques for PWDs”.

One of the other areas where PWDCTC stood out was in creating the water test – focused on what the dogs are capable of, tapping into the historic value and partnering with PWDs to see what they can truly do. The early club members worked together to come up with a formal test in the early 1990s, which served as a significant input into the creation of Water Works, even at the national level.

As the club expanded over the years, it was more than just a club. It was education, camaraderie and new opportunities to learn – for both owners and PWDs. PWDCTC was the first regional PWD club to obtain AKC sanctioning and began hosting annual Portuguese Water Dog Regional Specialties. It has also demonstrated leadership at the national level, co-chairing the second PWDCA National Specialty.

In the years since, the Club’s membership has continued to grow. The programming is vibrant and full of energy when the community gets together to celebrate the same values and goals it was built upon in those early days.

PWDCTC Milestones

1985 - First organizational meeting
1986 - Approval of by laws
1986 - First workshop (obedience/conformation)
1986 - River Readings first published
1987 - 28 members, four states represented
1988 - AKC Sanction of PWDCTC
1989 - First Sanctioned Best of Breed Match
2002 - Launch of our web site
2010 - Redesign of the web site