In early 2017 we lost our first family dog, a Beagle, through old age. He had been with us for 14 years. He was the bearer of the engagement ring in our marriage proposal and was present upon the arrival of both of our daughters. As our girls were growing up, we had often enjoyed going for days out, taking him to the beach and exploring the countryside. When we lost him it created a void in our family; we seemed to have lost part of that sense of purpose to those trips.
Initially we were unsure as to whether we wanted to get another dog, but knew that if we did, we didn't want it to be a beagle, through fear of continually making comparisons. Undecided we
ventured to Crufts for our first time to explore the different breeds. We had a couple in mind that we wanted to see, but it was only by chance that we came across the Spanish Water Dog (SWD), a breed we were unaware of, let alone had considered. Their numbers in the UK were small compared to a lot of the other breeds, but we all instantly fell in love with them. Being one of the more minority breeds we put in the work to find out as much as we could about them, to make sure they were the right fit for our family. For us this meant that we attended more dog shows, these being the best places for us to able to meet a lot of owners and a large variety of the breed lines in one place. It was whilst attending these that our eldest daughter expressed an interest in trying her hand at showing as and when we got our own SWD. What impressed us the most about the breed though was their incredible versatility and drive. Not only do they make great companions, but there were examples of the breed in every discipline a dog can do; showing, gundog work, agility, water work, scent work to name a few. Whatever the interest, this breed would turn their paws to it.
In November 2017 we welcomed to our home Merlin, our first Spanish Water Dog (or Perro De Agua Español in their native homeland). He is the most loving and affectionate boy, in fact really he chose us. On our first meeting he came bounding up to us and would not stop licking our faces. We knew he was the one. We took great care to make sure that he was socialised as much as possible to enable him to become a well-rounded dog so that he is comfortable and experienced in as many situations as possible. We introduced him to ringcraft training and when he turned six months entered him to his first show. He went on to win best puppy in breed. We have continued to show him occasionally, in which he has had a good run of success. He has been named reserve best dog in breed on two occasions, has been shortlisted and placed on a number of gundog group finals and at his last visit to Crufts in 2020 won out of a strong class to challenge for best
dog in breed on two occasions, has been shortlisted and placed on a number of gundog group finals and at his last visit to Crufts in 2020 won out of a strong class to challenge for best dog in breed. We always like to look for new and exciting ways to keep our dogs engaged and interested, so as he has matured he turned his paws to other disciplines such as agility, gundog training and water work.
In 2019 we made the decision to find Merlin a playmate and by mid-November Maya joined our family. She quickly settled in and has become a great companion to Merlin. Like him we decided to start her at ringcraft, seeing this as a great way to increase her socialisation whilst also giving her some training to focus on without being impactive on her developing joints. At the age of 6 months she was entered into her first show where, to our surprise, she went to win her class, then the Gundog Group, finally going on to take reserve best puppy in show. Unfortunately this was to be her first and last show for a while as the Covid pandemic hit the country and brought with it wide ranging restrictions, cancellations and lockdowns.
As the the restrictions eased we got back outdoors. Although we show occasionally we love nothing more than getting away and taking the dogs with us. Be it running on the beach and playing in the sea, exploring the lakes, rivers and fields of the countryside or climbing mountains, we want our dogs to have the best life. Our dogs are truly part of our family. They absolutely adore our girls and go everywhere with us. When the girls’ friends come over to our house, Maya gets excited and thinks that they have all come to play with her. Invariably she often gets her own way and becomes the centre of attention, receiving a lot of fuss and playtime. That’s not to say that Merlin is left out; he has a canny knack for finding a ball from somewhere and presenting it for them to throw and him to chase.
And now our journey continues, as we look to grow our family of Spanish Water Dogs in the hope that we can help other families find the joy in our dogs the way we do.