Hello to fellow water rescue trainers-
Welcome to water training season! You have informal training available to you at Horseshoe Lake in Woodland, WA on Wednesdays and Sundays, from 8:00 to about 10:00. These sessions are for PNNC club members who are planning to enter a future Newfoundland water test, those thinking of joining the club with the same goal, and friends who are willing to steward and help the group train. These sessions are PNNC events.
Training occurs during the 16 weeks between the first weekend in June and the weekend before the PNNC water test in September. Because the water test is held rain or shine, the group trains in any weather.
It’s best for everyone if the sessions run efficiently. Arriving early and being ready to go at start time helps. So does being familiar with the regs for the test you are targeting and knowing your training goals for each session. Click here to access the NCA water test regs.
The most effective structure for these sessions is to have one handler team at a time working. The handler on deck guides the other handlers to help as needed.
Usually, the dog’s brains are full after about 15 minutes per turn. If 4 handler teams are working together smoothly, then each team has 2 turns during the 2 hours. To enable more turns or if the group is large, then optionally, 2 groups can form on separate sections of the beach.
These are collaborative sessions where everyone learns from each other, and the dogs learn by watching the other dogs perform. Asking clarifying questions often helps everyone confirm their understanding. By staying for the entire session, you can give back to the other handlers the help they gave you.
It’s nice to know who is coming to each session. A Google docs spreadsheet is helpful if you keep your entries up to date. Watch for a link to be posted soon on the PNNC website and Members and Friends Facebook page.
The club row boat is available, if a club member fetches it and returns it to the storage area right after training is done that day. Boaters must follow PNNC’s Boat policy. Remember, if you break it, you must fix it, and do so quickly. Please volunteer to fetch and return the boat for as many sessions as you can. It gets old fast if this duty continually falls to only one person.
If you have a kayak or paddleboard, it’s great if you bring it. It’s easier and faster to drop articles for the dogs to retrieve from this equipment, than it is to use the row boat.
Note that work is underway to hold a mock water test in late July. The test will help you assess your progress. Watch for details on the PNNC website and the Members and Friends Facebook page.
As you train for your next water test (even if it’s your first), enjoy watching your pup light up when they learn a new skill and be amazed by the intelligence and natural instincts shown by these dogs. Some of our best friendships arise from sharing our mutual love of splashing around in the water with our dogs.
Follow Horseshoe Lake Park Rules
Follow the park’s rules, such as picking up your dog’s poop and keeping your dog on leash (when not training). Because training is off leash, the handlers break the park’s rules every time the teams train. Therefore, be vigilant that your dog stays in the water or on the beach under your control away from other park goers at all times. Be mindful that if the teams mess up, the park goers can complain to the park or city officials and the group might be kicked out. It’s important that the group’s behavior wins them over so that the handlers can keep training there and PNNC can continue to use the site for upcoming water tests.
Keep in Mind
Be respectful of other park goers, including the fishermen. Just because the group might outnumber them, it does not mean that handlers can take over the beach. Be helpful and informative when you answer questions. Make park goers feel included by explaining the activities. Maybe ask them to be a helper or a boat rower. They’ll get a great view of all the action.
If other days of the week or times of day work better for you, then feel free to start another group whose schedule aligns with yours. Set it up for however many weeks you need.