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Portuguese water dogs perform at West Point Lake

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Portuguese water dog owners had their dogs swim and perform tricks in the lake at Pyne Road Park. The event was hosted by the United Sunshine States Portuguese Water Dog Club, an organization for people with purebred Portuguese water dogs, according to event participant Joanne Korth.

USSPWD Club President Vickie Baker said that participants practiced on Friday and were doing trials Saturday and Sunday.

The dogs performed at different levels, which varied in complexity. The levels were Junior, Apprentice, Working, Career and Masters.

“It’s a natural progression for the dogs’ expertise. They have to learn harder and harder skills in order to get to the Master level,” Baker said. “Junior is really introductory — teaching him to swim to the boat, teaching him comfort around the water, teaching him to hold and retrieve dummies short distances. Apprentices is harder. They have to go out in Apprentice and retrieve float lines that are dropped by boat. And then Working, they are taught to retrieve three articles after jumping off the boat. Working introduces them to jumping off the boat. By the time you get to Career, the hardest exercise in that is a ball drop, where a dog has to go 10 to 15 feet beyond a marker, which is 50 feet past the boat it jumps off of, and drop a ball.”

Korth explained that Portuguese water dogs were bred to work with their owners as they fished from boats. In the past, the breed would place objects in the water, school fish, retrieve nets, and act as crew members and watchdogs on their owners’ boats, according to Baker.

“You’re always working one-on-one with your dog. Your dog is very connected to you while you’re doing these exercises. And that’s sort of the fun of it, is it helps you build your relationship with your dog,” Korth said.

Korth’s dog’s name is Rizzo.

Baker said her favorite thing about the event was the people participating.

“This is a family of people that own Portuguese water dogs, so we all naturally have a lot in common,” she said.

Baker’s dogs’ names are Zoey and Crew.

For more information on the USSPWD Club, visit usspwdc.org.