HOW DO I LEARN ABOUT UPCOMING PWDCTC EVENTS?
I’VE LOOKED AT YOUR WEBSITE AND THERE ARE SO MANY PICTURES OF PWD IN THE SHOW RING OR COMPETING IN PERFORMANCE VENUES. IS THERE A PLACE FOR ME IN THIS CLUB IF I DON’T ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN CANINE EVENTS WITH MY DOG?
Yes! Every person who loves a PWD and loves our breed should feel welcome in the PWDCTC. While many folks in the club caught the competition bug, all of our members love our dogs, first and foremost, as beloved companions. If you have stories about counter-surfing and stuffed toy hoarding to share (and don’t we all?), you’ll find yourself in good company at a PWDCTC event. As a small club, we rely on volunteers to support our club and we welcome folks who want to give back to the PWD community in a variety of ways. Please come and spend some time with us – we sincerely hope you’ll have fun!
I READ ABOUT THE PORTUGUESE WATER DOG ONLINE AND I WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BREED- WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Let your research begin with our national club, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. The club’s website has important information about the origins of the breed, lots of pictures of PWDs, information about the rewards and challenges of PWD ownership, descriptions of health issues that face the breed, and links to lots of information about all things PWD.
There are several books about the PWD that can guide you in your learning: The New Complete Portuguese Water Dog by Kitty Braund, Carla Molinari’s book in translation from the Portuguese, The Portuguese Water Dog, and Verne Foster’s terrific soft-cover book specifically for new owners of PWDs, The Portuguese Water Dog: A Guide for the New Owner.
All-breed and specialty dog shows are wonderful venues for learning about PWDs. Listings of upcoming shows can be found at dog show superintendents’ sites; Jack Onofrio Dog Shows, and Roy Jones Dog Shows. These two superintendents sponsor the majority of the dog shows held in Minnesota. Their websites will provide a list of upcoming shows and, about a week before the show itself, will include links to judging programs which will tell you what time and in what ring the PWDs will be judged. Breeders and enthusiasts attend dog shows throughout the year – they are great places to make introductions and ask questions. Folks are generally more available to do this after their dogs have been judged; before that, most are occupied with getting them ring ready.
Finally, please join us at one of our local club events – you’ll find a listing of these events right here on our calendar. At these events you’ll meet terrific people who have a range of experience with the breed: active breeders and competitors with PWDs as well as folks who own PWDs primarily as companions. Our beloved PWDs are at most of our events, too, so, if you join us, you will hopefully get a chance to meet some of these exuberant and wonderful dogs in person!
OKAY, I’VE DONE MY RESEARCH AND I’M CONVINCED THE PWD IS THE DOG I WANT. HOW DO I GET ONE?
The process of adding a PWD to your family is an exciting one. It can also be a challenging one and it’s good to be prepared for what might turn into a lengthy and involved process before you begin.
Responsible breeders are very selective about the folks with whom they place their dogs. Many of them breed infrequently so many, if not most, folks waiting for a PWD puppy find themselves on a “waiting list” for a pup. Ideally, before you put your name on any waiting list, you will spend some time talking to several breeders and you will meet several adult PWDs. You’ll get a sense of what particular breeders prioritize in their breeding programs as well as their procedures for placing puppies. These meetings and initial conversations are VERY important- when you choose a breeder, you are, in the best circumstances, choosing an important lifetime ally for you and your dog. You will be in close contact with this person as your dog grows and it is very important to feel comfortable with the breeder that you choose.
As you proceed through the placement process, it is not unusual to be asked to fill out a survey or to offer a deposit before being granted a place on a breeder’s waiting list. It is also not unusual to be matched with a puppy rather than being given your choice of puppies in a litter. Breeders who place puppies in this manner feel that their knowledge of the breed and their familiarity with the range of personalities and conformations in the litter offer them a unique insight into which puppies will thrive best in which homes.
Although the process of looking for a PWD puppy can be daunting, remember that the best breeders only want what is best for their puppies and only want to place puppies with people who seem ready and able to assume the occasionally great challenges of PWD ownership.
WHENEVER I’VE SEEN PWDS AT DOG SHOWS, THEY ARE ALWAYS SO BEAUTIFUL AND WELL-MANNERED. WHENEVER I TALK WITH PEOPLE ABOUT THE BREED, HOWEVER, THEY ARE CONSTANTLY WARNING ME ABOUT THEIR ENERGY LEVEL AND ABOUT HOW THEY AREN’T THE EASIEST PETS. ARE THEY BEAUTIFUL TEDDY BEARS OR CHAOS-CAUSING MONSTERS?
The short answer: somewhere in between! Despite their fuzzy-wuzzy or elegant looks, PWDs are working dogs. They thrive in homes with folks that understand their need for mental and physical exercise and who take seriously the necessity to socialize and train their puppy before declaring the pup a good citizen.
PWDs are very smart – this can be the best and worst thing about them. When channeled appropriately, their intelligence allows them to thrive in performance sports, therapy work, and other active and engaging pursuits. Left to their own devices, however, PWDs will find work of their own and it’s usually not what you would choose for them to do. Inveterate chewers, occasional guard dogs, food thieves and Kleenex shredders, PWDs are challenging dogs who need a challenge.
Seeing PWDs at a dog show is a wonderful way to learn about the breed; remember, though, that the dogs you see at the show have been carefully groomed and, in most cases, trained. Maintaining a PWDs coat is a real commitment and training a PWD is a lot of fun but also a significant responsibility. Most PWDs aren’t well-mannered by accident. Their good manners are the result of team work between dog and person.
The depth of a PWDs relationship with its owner knows no bounds. Devoted, keenly sensitive, and comical, PWDs nestle deep within their owners’ hearts even while they are making mischief and keeping their owners on their toes. This explains why responsible people are quick to say that PWD aren’t for everyone while at the same time making it clear that they will never be without one.
WHEN I LOOK AT THE PWDCA’S LIST OF HEALTH ISSUES THAT AFFECT PWDS I’M LEFT WORRYING ABOUT WHETHER THIS IS A HEALTHY BREED. IS IT?
In general, PWDs are a healthy breed. Like most breeds, they have a proclivity to develop certain diseases because most dogs derive from a very small initial gene pool. The frequency and sophistication of the conversations about health issues in PWDs stems, in part, from a broad commitment within the PWD national and local community to be alert to health issues, to investigate them fully, and, in many cases, to work with leading researchers to develop predictive genetic testing to mitigate the influence of certain diseases in our gene pool. The PWDCA maintains a voluntary health registry wherein breeders and owners can input health data for their dogs – this is an invaluable resource for our breed.
Responsible breeders will test their breeding stock for GM-1, PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), hip dysplasia, and JDCM (Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy) in addition to other health tests. Additionally, breeding dogs should receive a CERF exam, an eye exam by a certified canine ophthalmologist, every year. It is important that you talk with your dog’s breeder about the health issues he or she has confronted in their dogs and in their lines – it is also important that you report any health issues to your breeder and to the appropriate PWDCA health committee in order to ensure healthy PWDs in the future.