Swimming, Retrieving, Loving Life!

According to  Ambrose Bierce “the most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog. ” Jade, my Portuguese Water dog, has such a deep seated love for water that it seems like she can’t imagine  anyone not loving water as much as she does. What that means is when she is wet she thinks you want to be wet too!

Jade shaking off

Jade and I had an agreement that the next sunny weekend she would get to go to her favorite swimming hole. The pond belongs to a friend of ours and is well hidden. However, a hidden pond doesn’t slow down a determined water dog. The first time we visited my friend’s home I wasn’t sure if Jade would notice the pond because it is so well hidden from view.  I knew better than to worry, but you know…

The most accessible entry point to the hidden pond.

To put the picture in perspective, the grasses are about six feet tall. If you are thinking that this looks too messy for a dog to go swimming you haven’t met Portuguese Water Dogs. This breed lives for the water! They seek out puddles on walks. They create their own ponds in the backyard. The list goes on and on for ways they create water holes. To give you an idea Jade and Charlie can go out together Charlie – a low rider – can come home dry and clean,  Jade comes home muddy, wet, and stinky. I don’t even want to know where she found the wet mess.


I’ve learned that it would take a whole lot more than tall grasses, tress and some mud to stop a determined Portie from getting to the water so she could have a daily swim! The first time we visited my friend Jade carried her dummy from the car into the water, swam out to the middle of the pond and back as if to say “Mom, this is what we are supposed to do – are YOU ready?” In other words Jade considers these obstacles part of the fun. Now when she knows that is where we are going she carries her dummy from the house to the car and doesn’t let go until her first swim is done!


Do you see Jade? She is bringing her dummy to shore! It’s easy to find Charlie; Jade is a few feet back from Charlie’s tail!!

As Jade comes out of this very tricky area I am pleased that she has a solid hold on her dummy. Otherwise we could be going through a lot of dummies! However, Jade LOVES her dummy and there is no way she is giving it up. If by chance she did drop it she would pick it right back up. If it went under water guess what? She would dive for it!

You can see just how challenging this area of the pond is for humans. Unless I am concerned for my dog’s safety there is no way I’m getting in that water! Yuck.  I love to swim, but I like sand and beaches – yeah, I’m a bit of a sissy and like to be pampered at times. Jade, on the other hand, is not a sissy! She is in doggie heaven when she gets to go swimming in this pond!

Jade, not quite ready to deliver to hand

Jade has been trained to come to a “front” when delivering the dummy to hand. In the above photo she knows she should be right in front of me but she isn’t ready to hand over the dummy. She also knows that we are just playing and not in training mode. Since she is in play mode she takes a sideways glance at me to see if she can get away with running off with her dummy or if she should hand it over. She decides to hand it over and moves to the front position. When Jade presents me with her dummy I take it and toss it into the pond. The game begins again!

I don’t consider the obstacles part of the fun! In fact I bring extra dummies in case I get one stuck in the tree! I am happy if I can clear the grasses and hit the deep waters when I throw Jade’s dummy. Jade doesn’t care where the dummy lands because she loves searching for it! If, by chance the dummy is in the tree Jade will bark at it to let me know where to find it. Mostly the process looks like this:

  • Handler tosses dummy
  • Send dog
  • Dog swims out
  • Dog brings dummy back to shore
  • Dog presents dummy to the handler’s hand
  • Start over



Sometimes Jade is very creative in the way she comes to shore. In true PWD tradition she likes to find alternate routes. This particular path is an interesting one because  there is no way I could fit through there! She loves find these paths though… see if you can find her in the tall grasses below!

Jade bursts out in a flash – watch for the yellow of her harness! Notice she doesn’t let go of her dummy!!

It is hard to find Jade in this picture but she is there… holding on to her dummy!

Living with dogs I’ve come to learn that it is all about “expecting the unexpected.” A lesson my father tried to teach me from the time I was a little girl. I remember always wondering how I could expect the unexpected. I still wonder at that. I think Jade (and other dogs I’ve had) have been trying to help me learn how to do that.

Jade is trying to decide which way to go. She makes a big loop around the field before delivering the dummy to hand.

Jade loves to play and run and have fun!

She is great at making up her very own games and entertaining herself given the opportunity.   At the end of our time at the pond Jade knows that she gets to have some extra time to just run. Of course running wouldn’t be as much fun without her dummy so I toss her dummy out a bunch for her which does two things. First it keeps Jade happy because she is still retrieving and second I can direct the direction of Jade’s path.


A few words of warning: the game of retrieve is a self-rewarding game. When you combine swimming and retrieving Jade is in a state of bliss! What this means for a handler is that you need to know when to end the game before she gets too tired. There are some breeds – like Portuguese Water Dogs – that will work until they drop – literally. If this is your dog you need to know how to tell your dog that the game is over. Back to Jade’s fun!

Jade is one very wet and happy dog when she comes out of the pond! You can tell, that is one happy face! That is what our time at the pond is all about – play, fun, and building a stronger relationship. While we are at it Jade is getting some great exercise and building her skills for water work too.

Jade running in the field with her dummy

You can see just how muddy Jade got in the pond! You can also see how Jade seems to be strutting around with her dummy. There is joy, bliss, and happiness exuded here.

Jade running in the field with her dummy

Who could ask for more than this?

Jade running in the field with her dummy

Jade says, maybe two dummies, but that might be a bit greedy!

Jade running in the field with her dummy

I hope you enjoyed the swim through muddy waters and Jade’s run through the field.  She says if you are ever in the area she will be happy to play a game of retrieve with you. And, if you are near a pond (or other body of water) she will happily get you all wet!

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