Poodle Earns Water Rescue Title

Water Rescue is a type of training which is popular with water dogs like Newfoundlands and Portuguese Water Dogs.  Dogs are trained to perform life-saving tasks, like towing a person to shore, taking a life jacket out to a person, and towing a boat.  For many years, only the national breed clubs of various water dog breeds sanctioned water rescue training and certification.  In 1992, a group of people in Texas developed WET DOG
(Water Education and Training Dog Obedience Group), whereby dogs of any breed could be trained for and gain titles in water rescue work.

The first level water test includes two parts:  Basic Obedience (Novice Level) and Water Rescue.  The dog must be able to pass all of the exercises in the Novice level of AKC obedience.  In addition, there are five parts to the Water Rescue Test:

1. Single Retrieve – The dog must fetch an object (usually a bumper) that is thrown into the water by the handler from shore.
2. Dropped Retrieve – The dog must fetch from shore an object (a life jacket) that was dropped in water from a boat without him seeing.
3. Tow A Boat – The dog must tow a boat in swimming depth water a distance of 50 feet.
4. Take A Line Out – The dog must take a line to a person who is out in the water at swimming depth.
5. Swim with Handler – The dog must swim out with the handler, turn and tow the handler to shore.

All of the exercises are judged on a pass or fail basis including the obedience portion.
If a dog passes each of these tests it is awarded a WETT title that stands for Water Education and Training Tested.

The WETX is the advanced title and requires these additional tests:

1. Select Drowning Victim – The dog must distinguish a floundering person from one who does not need assistance.
2. Underwater Retrieve – The dog must submerge its’ head completely while retrieving an object.
3. Directed Retrieve – the handler in a boat directs the dog on shore, to retrieve a paddle from the  water to the boat.

As my Poodle spends much of his year aboard a boat, and the rest never far from water, this seemed right up our alley.  I found this information and the description of the test at www.WETDOG.org and began to train my dog based on the training manual they made available. When I contacted the local trainer for WETDOG, I was invited out to the lake for the classes.  I told her I thought my dog could already manage the testing.  Needless to say she was very skeptical, especially when she heard he is a Miniature Poodle!

I must give the judge credit though, as she was the first to say, “he can do this”.  When she got a look at JIB in action she suggested we come back the next day and take the test.  My husband videotaped the test and it is a remarkable bit of footage.  The judge was thrilled each time the fifteen-pound Poodle performed a task with intense drive, speed and good cheer.  JIB earned the WETT title and the WETX title the same day! 

We are told he is the first Miniature Poodle to earn a WETX and we are very proud.  I hope other Poodles will step up to the shoreline and try this venue.

Suzi Cope