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Tenafly Activist Sees Spanish Water Dogs To Westminster After 15 Years

Sheryl Gaines of Tenafly with her Grand Champion Casa de Rancho’s Mona, shown Monday in the first group of her breed to compete in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
Sheryl Gaines of Tenafly with her Grand Champion Casa de Rancho’s Mona, shown Monday in the first group of her breed to compete in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. Photo Credit: Sheryl Gaines

TENAFLY, N.J. -- After 15 years of lobbying to bring Spanish Water Dogs into the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Tenafly speech therapist finally saw her dream come true on Tuesday.

The journey started when her son, then 9 years old, wanted a dog and the family needed a breed that didn’t shed. Research showed that Spanish Water Dogs are attractive, medium-sized, very smart, energetic and don’t shed.

So, Gaines and her family got one, and she fell in love.

"It took a lot of work to get the breed recognized," she said. "But I have the satisfaction of knowing I had a hand in history."

Spanish Water Dogs are a curly-haired “basic farm dog” bred for tending sheep and goats. They can be black, white, cocoa brown, grey, black and white, grey and white, brown and white. According to VetStreet, there are approximately 1,000 water dogs in the U.S. and Canada, most in the northeast.

Gaines decided she wanted to breed SWD, as they are known for short, and went to Spain to meet one of the leading breeders. They became friends, and he gave her a dog to bring home with her to advance the breeding program.

“That dog -- Rancho -- taught me how to show,” she said. He was four when she got him, and already trained. She began going to dog shows “almost every weekend,” traveling as far as Canada, the midwest and Virginia to show her beloved Spanish Water Dogs.

Having now achieved a goal that many dog fanciers never reach, she’s going to take some time to “just spend living” before she considers what her next move will be.

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