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In Print: On News Stands Now

THE OBAMA DOG

by Tumbleweed Smith

Joy Rochester grew up in Odessa and now owns a sporting goods store in Colorado. She came home the other day to enter her Portuguese Water Dog in a dog show. She has had a PWD or Porty for nine years. She became interested in the breed because she and her son are both allergic to dogs and the PWD’s are non-allergenic. The Obamas have a daughter who has allergies, so that’s why they chose a PWD.

Because of her long time interest in the breed and the fact that she has two of them, she was a little concerned about protecting the integrity of the breed when she heard that the Obamas had adopted a Porty.

“I didn’t like it at all because I was afraid people would start buying them because of their popularity. That would create a real problem because the breed takes a lot of work. I hope breeders will make sure that the breed does not become just an avenue to make money. That’s my big fear that these will start showing up in shelters. Thus far, breeders have been so careful about the homes they place them in, making sure the owners understand how much the breed needs.”

A PWD puppy can cost up to two thousand dollars. Although the breed originated in Portugal, it has declined in popularity over there. I’m sure now that the White House has one, the media attention will cause the numbers to increase everywhere. The breed came to the US thirty years ago.

“They were bred to assist fishermen in the water,” says Joy. “They actually have a herding instinct and are able to herd fish into nets. They also have a retrieving instinct as well where they will retrieve and pull the net together and pull it into the boat. They will retrieve any lines that go overboard. If you have equipment or poles or anything else that go overboard, they’ll retrieve those. They can dive for things that have gone underwater. They are incredibly intelligent. The one thing that people should know before they even think about getting one of these dogs is they are highly energetic. They are a working dog and they need to work. If you don’t have time to work them, they will find something to do. They are not a dog to have around really young children. They’re not a dog to have in situations where you work eight to ten hours a day. They need interaction. They need to be challenged. For someone to get this dog because it’s popular and cute, then after the puppiness wears off to just put it in a crate and leave it is not a good thing.”

The Portuguese Water Dog is a rare breed. Her dog named Soli was the only Porty entered in the show. She won a purple ribbon, which is better than a blue.

“My dog is a dog-dog first. It’s my pet and my companion. Just this morning about seven-thirty she was playing in a mud puddle with some other dogs. I had to give her a bath, blow dry and groom her.”

Joy hopes to become a Portuguese Water Dog breeder.

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