Water is their middle name, and this activity is FUN! The official water trial rules can be obtained from the PWDCA website. You can also read a bit about how the breed's history, the water trial, and the structure of the dog as judged in dog shows come together in The Trilogy.
Don't let your doggie be unemployed!
Jumping, oh yeah!
Mine! No, Mine! It's Mine! Give it to ME!
Just Hanging Out
Deyanne Miller said to me once, "These dogs will show you life through a different set of eyes--if you let them!" I think that's one of the truest statements about PWDs I've ever heard. A big part of the enjoyment of having one of these dogs is including them in your outings, vacations, day to day activities. Of course, if water is involved, they turn into stars pretty fast!
Rico, Skye's brother, on vacation with the family, 2006:
I've got to admit that even though I am very proud of my doggies, I am not a competitive person so in the past I have only done enough showing in conformation to keep me honest as a breeder, to ensure that other knowledgeable people consider my potential breeding stock worthy of the title "Champion." Having said that, there is nothing quite like the feeling of being in pace with your dog as you round the ring and receive the nod from the judge. I think this picture from the '93 Specialty, with my beloved Tunes (Gaucho x Megan) as she went on to win a huge Open Bitch class and Reserve Winners Bitch, captures this feeling very well. My thanks to Colville Jackson for catching this moment and sharing the picture with me.
For more information on conformation dog shows, visit the AKC website http://www.akc.org/events/conformation/index.cfm
And then there's...
Now this is more my style! More real-world stuff like heel, sit, down, stand, stay, come. Although still competitive, it allows more opportunity for individual style--like Skye's first leg on her Companion Dog title. See, Skye lives up to her name, being airborne in much of life, and couldn't resist launching herself at me from about six feet away at the end of the recall. I managed to stay on my feet as she boomeranged off my stomach, and the smirking judge mercifully only took off 4 points or so. On her next leg, after I called her, I was mentally thinking "Sit...Sit...Sit" as she romped towards me. So she did--unfortunately in heel position instead of in front of me. But still a pass. For the third leg of her title, I actually went to three classes before hand, and had my timing down. As I left her for the recall, the judge said "Cute dog" as I passed by. I'm thinking, "Lady, you don't know the half of it!" Turned around. On the judge's signal, called Skye. Perfect come, sit front, and finish on command. Took a first place in Novice B! And earned her CD, too. Only 1.5 points out of High in Trial, and those were my fault for being too slow on the change of pace. I may be too slow, but What a Dog!
There are other great venues--tracking, agility, rally. More to come.
Therapy Dog Visiting
Without a doubt, this is the best thing I do with my dogs. These pictures are of my therapy dog team, the St. Andrew's Animal Angels sponsored by St. Andrew's Church in Mahtomedi, MN. These wonderful people and their dogs visit folks at memory care units, hospitals, nursing homes, and senior residences. Mostly we just visit and share our dogs. We've also worked with pre-school children in learning numbers and letters and one-on-one with children in the local schools to improve reading skills and self esteem. In the fall of 2006, we will be working with a school program to help children with autism make the transition from grammar school to middle school.
Our team has rescue dogs, purebreds, a rescue/retired racing Greyhound, farm dogs enjoying new training and work to do, and dogs from every Group and every size from the smallest Yorkie (3 lbs) to the biggest Doberman I have ever seen...when his owner asked him "Are you a big dog?" he would lie down to look smaller...
PWDs are well suited for therapy dog work. Skye amazes me in her ability to adapt her movements, energy level, and attention to the capabilities of the person she is visiting. Even some of her water work and obedience skills, like fetching various objects and following hand signals, are useful, not only to entertain but to encourage self expression, reflection, and self esteem in therapeutic applications. Of course, there is the time that we were demonstrating at an Ice Cream Social at a Senior Residence, and after retrieving the float line and first dummy perfectly, she seized the last dummy, tossed her head at me, and went gamboling through the crowd, showing off her treasure to everyone, much to the delight of the audience!