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Water Assessors 


Below you will find biographies of our current water assessors.

We are also on the lookout for people who are interested in becoming water assessors on behalf of the club, to host training and assessment events in their local areas. If you are willing to get involved in helping keep the breed true to type and enhancing their natural aptitude to work in water, then please download and complete the below water assessors application and email it to our Lead Trainer, Kate Wilden at 

Water Assessor Application

Kate Wilden - Head Trainer and Assessor 

Kate is our Lead Water Trainer.  She is the first point of call for all water-related queries within the SWD club.

Kate is both an experienced trainer and water-enthusiast, so Leading the Water training has combined  3 of her passions. 

Kate spent 16 years in the British Army where she was an education and training expert.  She has been involved in all aspects of training – from delivery, to train the trainer, to quality assurance.  This expertise has helped us develop our Train the Assessor programme.  Kate is leading this programme and is supporting a number of Water Assessors in their development.

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Kate, was introduced to water sports through Guiding and Scouting.  She qualified as a Level 2 Kayak coach over 30 years ago.  She has gone on to spend a number of years sailing and racing both dingy and yachts.  She qualified as a Costal Skipper in 2009.  She is fully conversant in the Risks involved with Water training.

As for the final part of the jigsaw, Kate has been a pet owner of dogs for nearly 30 years.  She has always competed and trained with her own dogs.  She has spent considerable amount of time in 2022 both developing her understanding of dog training, but also developing the SWD club Water Assessor Training programme.

Richard Rogers - Water Assessor

Based in Perthshire Richard has been involved in water sports from a young age - white-water kayaking, canoe slalom, canoe polo, open Canadian paddling & sea kayaking. He was a Venture Scout Leader for a number of years and has coached canoe & kayak for too many years to mention, qualifying as a Senior Instructor and gaining an Advanced Proficiency (kayak) over 30 years ago. More recently he has gained an Open Canoe qualification (4 star). Richard has also undertaken both Whitewater Safety & Rescue training and First Aid training. He is well versed in managing groups on and off the water.

When the Rogers family came across the Spanish Water Dog it seemed the ideal breed for their family Ria joined the family in 2012; they’ve spent many days in the sea, rivers, lochs & burns since then!

Until Kate ran the water training in Scotland in 2022, they’d never taken part in any formal water work with Ria. Richard, Jacquie and Ria had two fantastic weekends of training in May & October with dogs of all ages having fun & gaining confidence in the water.

Richard is delighted to be able to do his part to support water training and looks forward meeting up with SWDs families in the future.      

Adrian Dornford-Smith - Water Assessor

Adrian was first involved in water sports (Kayaking and Sailing) via Scouts as a teenager. He was later introduced to surfing. He has experience of teaching in the voluntary and professional sector (university and secondary level). As a mountaineer and rock climber he is well versed in safely leading and instructing groups in potentially hazardous environments.

He has two Spanish Water Dogs which he has trained in many disciplines including water work. He is a passionate advocate for working and training SWDs especially in their traditional roles such as water work and believes it is a crucial role for the SWD Club to administrate a water working scheme.

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Based in Northern Ireland, Adrian is blessed with Lough Neagh on his doorstep and many safe and great places to undertake water work, from still non-tidal loughs and outdoor pools through flowing rivers to the sea. His latest interest is in paddle boarding and sees this as a great way for dogs and humans to enjoy the water together.

He and his partner Rachel Cooper, love working and training SWDs in the water and want everyone to experience this joy with their dogs.

Rachel Cooper - Water Assessor

Rachel was involved in water and water sports from her time in Guiding and Scouting, following in her father’s footsteps. She has swum all her life, as her mother was a swimming teacher. As a youngster, she went dinghy sailing and canoeing with family, passing BCU Level 1. Qualifying as a teacher in 1992, Rachel went on to pass the Bronze Medallion, Silver Cross and Distinction awards for life-saving.

At the age of 8, Rachel was given her first dog as a birthday present, a collie X poodle from the RSPCA, in the days when such crosses didn’t

have funny names! She spent many hours obedience training with her and from then has only been a few years without a dog.

Since 2002, she has been a dog trainer at her local dog training club (Glandore DTC of Ulster) in Northern Ireland, currently a Senior Trainer in Rally, Agility, Obedience and Good Citizens. Along with Adrian, she runs a ‘Train the Trainer’ programme within the Club for aspiring trainers in both Good Citizens and Agility. She has also run numerous training workshops in aid of the NI Rally Team.

Rachel currently runs the Rally section of Glandore, is the Team Manager for the NI Inter-Regional Rally Team at Crufts, and helps out with the club’s other sections. In the summer, there is a pool set up in the garden, and along with the sea and the lough, the dogs have fun participating in waterwork. Rachel is a keen Open Water Swimmer, so often goes in herself in skins, however, she has purchased a full-length wetsuit for water training! Living so near the lough in Northern Ireland, there is a choice of possible places to play, including an ex quarry with drinking quality water!

David Earles - Water Assessor

Based in Warwickshire, David has been involved in water sports for 10+ years. He has been kayaking and canoeing for most of that time and has more recently taken up Stand Up Paddle boarding both on flat water and white water. David completed his Gold Duke of Edinburgh award expedition on the river Tay in Scotland canoeing from Loch Tay to Perth. He completed his Level 1 coaching award and sat the Level 2 training whilst working at a local boat centre and progressed on to do 3-star canoe and kayak awards as well.

David researched the Spanish Water Dog breed for 7 years after coming across them at the Game Fair, and talked his partner Fern

into getting one when they moved in together. They were both keen to get a dog who would fit in with their hobbies which include water sports and shooting, so a versatile and adaptable dog like the Spanish ticked all the boxes. Rocket joined the couple in 2021 and has been hard at work on the beating line on local shoots in amongst gundog training courses, as well as undertaking his water work awards.

Rocket was the first Spanish Water Dog to achieve the Level 2 Expert award after completing the Tidal, Non-tidal and Pool awards. David took great pleasure in seeing Rocket and the other dogs progress and learn the behaviours they were being assessed against, this has fuelled David’s passion to become an assessor and help more dogs achieve their water work awards

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