Saturday, August 2, 2008

Nice day for a ride

I have some friends, Judy and Tom, who own two Portuguese Water Dogs Max and Maggie. They show them in AKC performance events such as rally obedience, formal obedience, agility, tracking and they also work their dogs in water events. I see them at our obedience class and we go tracking a couple times a week together. Their dogs are also registered therapy dogs that visit a couple of places that I do.

I've been wanting to go and watch them do their 'water work' and yesterday I got my opportunity. It was a beautiful sunny day, so I got my jeep (Miss Scarlett)ready for a little trip. I took my doors off, the back side windows out and rolled up my back window. I left the top on because of the intense heat from the sun. I don't know how people can ride in convertibles. The sun beating down on you can just ruin a ride.

I got up early, threw my hair in a baseball cap, gathered up some water in an ice chest and headed to the lake. The hubster was home, so he was in charge of looking after the animals while I was away.

The drive took longer than anticipated. It was about an hour and a half away. When I arrived, there were several people with their Portuguese around the water with their dogs, buoy lines, buoy balls, miscellaneous equipment, row boats equipped with platforms on the back for both handler and dog and everyone was taking turns working their dogs in various exercises. They all were at different skill levels.

I really wish I had brought my camera. To watch these dogs do what they were bred to do was amazing. For one exercise, I got to watch Max take a buoy ball (has a short line on it) away from his boat until his handler told him to leave it. He left the buoy ball and returned to the boat. It was approximately 40 feet away from the boat where he left the ball.

How delightful to watch these dogs jump off of the back of the boat on command, swim to shore and retrieve a buoy line and bring it back to their handler on the boat The handler would then help the dog get back on board. Of course there were lots of shakes to wring the water out of their coat.

There was also another advanced exercise where the dog was instructed to jump in the water, where a good 30 yards away were two floating things (can't remember their names). The dog was instructed which one to retrieve. When they did, the handler took it from the dog and instructed the dog to go back and get the other. How neat.

There were other exercises I got to observe and what a great opportunity to get to see these dogs work. There is a lot of time and effort on the handlers part to get these dogs ready for competition, as in any dog performance event.

After everything was over, we headed to Tom and Judy's for a bite to eat. Boy does she make a spread! We had lobster salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, pasta salad, sliced cucumber and tomatoes with poppyseed dressing and feta cheese and an individual wonderful chocolate cookie cake for dessert. The Portugese were there and had some doggie ice cream, compliments of Judy. Max was having a birthday the next day, so we were all having a celebration and no one was left out.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to watch someone train dogs, take it. You will be amazed at how much time and effort goes into it, the dedication they have for it, and you will walk away with an appreciation for what both the handlers and dogs do!