We took Cooper up to Andy Fontenot’s WaterDog Kennel yesterday. While Coop’s there, he’ll learn the skills, knowledge, and etiquette of being a proper hunting dog. Irish Water Spaniels were bred to hunt, and Cooper demonstrates the drive, intelligence, and enthusiasm to be a good hunting companion and a success at hunt trials. Now what he needs is the training to harness that drive.
It’s hard to find a trainer here in the Northwest who knows anything about training IWS — A few had never heard of the breed, and many didn’t know that IWS can hunt. Most trainers have the majority of their experience with Labrador, Golden, and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. IWS are really different from those breeds in their temperaments, and what works with a Lab is unlikely to work with an IWS.
And fortunately, Andy has a good reputation with IWS owners. And we’ve talked to most of the folks who have sent their IWS to him. We also spent an afternoon watching him train owners and dogs last May, and spent an afternoon with him at his kennels a a couple of months ago. Plus, he’s put both AKC and UKC titles on IWS. If anyone can do the job with Cooper, it’s likely to be Andy.
The only downside is that I will really miss Cooper. I already really miss him, and it’s only been 18 hours, 28 minutes, and 49 seconds since we dropped him off.
And possibly, he’ll miss us, too. At least until he gets to handle his first duck with Andy.