The Irish Water Spaniel Club of America held their annual specialty at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Warwick, Rhode Island in late May. Many other clubs have had shows staged at this facility and with good reason. Aside from the close proximity to the airport, there are ample grounds for just about anything you can image to do with your dogs. This year’s specialty committee, headed by Judy Goonyep and Greg Siner, pulled out all the stops to make this a very memorable event. After all, being in New England brings a certain historic flavor and feel.

Upon arrival, the first stop is usually the Hospitality Room. Checking in and finding out what this year’s goodie bag holds is always at the top of the list. The committee went with a lobster theme and boy, did they do it up good. The goodie bags were actually heavy-duty beach bags filled with the taste of the New England states. Del’s Lemonade, brought to Rhode Island in 1948, White Birch Soda started in Connecticut in 1922, then from Massachusetts Cranberry Pepper Jelly started in Amesbury in 1955, NECCO Wafers in flavors started in 1847, and Boston Baked Beans in the form of candy. Lake Champlain Chocolates from Vermont, maple syrup candies from New Hampshire and of course, lobster from Maine rounded out the edibles. The crustacean in the goodie bag was of the gummy variety, but this wasn’t the only lobster seen during the specialty.

photo Cat Shelby

The Hospitality Room was the place to be each morning and afternoon. The Specialty Committee provided yummy, local donuts with morning coffee and tea, snacks with wine in the evenings and special, local foods sprinkled throughout the 5 days. It was also the place to buy raffle tickets for 5 huge baskets, stuffed with items relating to a theme such as hunting/water, obedience and play time. One of this year’s fund-raisers was a 140-page glossy book of the Irish Water Spaniel in Art, edited and compiled by Tara Darling-Lyon. Historical photos of IWS in variety of mediums along with contemporary art, some by IWSCA members, found its way into this “must have” book. As people started arriving from all parts of the United States, Canada and overseas, the Hospitality room would fill to capacity each day.

This year’s events included the field tests for Working Certificate “WC” and Working Certificate Excellent “WCX” on Tuesday. This would be the first excursion to see what the dogs and handlers could do and leave time for bathing those going on to do other events over the next few days. Fifteen dogs were entered in the WC and seven in the WCX. Nine qualified in the WC and two qualified in the WCX, a record total. Judges for both were Paul and Susan Young.

Photo credit – Jeremy Kezer

Wednesday kicked off the AKC events with Obedience and Rally, followed by a clambake at the beach later in the day. Obedience judge was Betsy Horn Humer and Agility judge was Carol Mount. Rally and Team Obedience judge was Elizabeth Chase.

Photo Jeremy Kezer

High in Trial was awarded to CH Whistle Stop Winds of Change VCD2 UD OM1 RN JH JHU OA NAJ AXP NFP “Ba-Rock” owned by Deb Nezgoda and bred by Colleen McDaniel.

Deb Nezgoda and Ba-Rock Photo Michael Wilkinson

There’s always a special story at each specialty and I think the one for this year might have been in the Agility ring. Agility was on Thursday and Grattan Foy brought his girl Luna to run one more run and retire. Luna and Grattan have had a long bond of working together. At the 2010 National, she ran 6 weeks in whelp with 13 puppies and this year, she ran her retirement run with cancer that had metastasized to her lungs. She looked fabulous as everyone watching had a lump in their throats and the biggest smiles on their faces. The best smile, though, was Grattan’s and our club President Jeremy Kezer caught the moment. GCH D’Locks Lunar Eclipse NA OAJ AXP AJP NF NFP lost her battle just a month later but for this moment at the specialty, Luna shone and was clearly the star of the day.

Grattan and Luna Photo Jeremy Kezer

The Specialty Committee worked hard to be sure we knew we were in lobster country as they were everywhere. One morning, an event was staged for dogs to enjoy some fun games. One that everyone tried to take advantage of was getting a photo with a lobster.

Photo Robyn van Haasteren

And each event had sponsored lobsters as special awards to those participating. Each time the lobster trap was spotted, a different style of lobster would be in it.

Photo Dennis O’Leary

Thursday evening, everyone moved inside to an enclosed tent on the hotel grounds. The night before, there had been a prom staged in it and maybe that was just the warm up needed for the parades and sweepstakes competition being held this night. With the Parade of Title Holders, Parade of All Around Irish Water Spaniels and the Parade of Pets, everyone had a chance to shine in the soft light of the pavillion. The Sweepstakes brought our judge to center stage and what a treat that was. Kathy Sproat from Australia, appeared in a gorgeous long, red gown that gave everyone notice that this Sweepstakes judging would be an event to remember.

Best in Sweepstakes was Poole’s Ide Lila Beaufield owned by Greg Siner, Bridget Kvarnlov, and Sam Jenio, bred by Greg Siner and Sam Jenio, with Best Opposite going to Epik’s First of Many, owned by Emily Pikul, and Joanne and Reid Gray, bred by Emily Pikul and Greg Siner. Best Veteran was GCH D’Locks Honeyduke’s Hogan, owned by Mary Williams-Marter and bred by Lynn Musgrave with Best Opposite awarded to CH D’Locks Something Wicked, owned by Greg Johnson and Shelley Potter, bred by Lynn Musgrave.

Epik’s First of Many

GCH D’Locks Honeyduke’s Hogan Photos Mike Wilkinson

Trophy Table Photo Robyn vanHaasteren

Friday brought the Judge’s Education seminar in the morning, then Junior judging. Later in the day was Conformation and the generators were working overtime as everyone did final touches on dog grooming.

The suspense was building and the heat under the tent was almost equal to standing in the sun outside. It’s always that way as people suddenly turn serious and are primed to enter the ring. Judge Dana Cline stepped into the ring and it was “showtime”.

Best of Breed was awarded to GCH Poole’s Ide Reversal of Fortune WD, owned by Tom and Bethany Urban and Greg Siner, bred by Sally Lewis and Lois MacDonald.

Best of Opposite was Poole’s Ide Last Dance owned by Greg Siner, Toni Owens and Bethany Urban, bred by Greg Siner and Dorothy Line.

Winner’s Dog and Best of Winners was Tara’s Utter Chaos owned by Tara Darling-Lyon, bred by Tara Darling-Lyon and Paul Price.

Winner’s Bitch went to Flintcrest Firing Cupid’s Arrow owned by Nancy Donahue, Stacy Duncan and Helen Howard, bred by Stacy Duncan, Colleen McDaniel and Cat Shelby.

Select Dog was Beaufield’s Boundary Waters at Poole’s Ide owned by Bridget Kvarnlov, Gregory Siner and Debra Patterson, bred by Bridget Kvarnlov.

Select Bitch was Ch Whistlestop’s The Wind On Fire owned by Gregory Siner, bred by Colleen McDaniel and Stacy Duncan.

Award of Merits went to GCH Whistlestop’s Wind on the Water owned by Michelle Cummings and bred by Colleen McDaniel and Stacy Duncan, GCH Stanegate It’s Showtime JHU owned by Stacy Duncan, bred by Judith Carruthers and to GCH Mallyree’s Here Comes the Son RN CGC owned by Alice Getchell and Pamela Manus, bred by Marion Hopkins and Pam Manus.

Reserve Winner’s Dog was Flintcrest Finten Forbes, owned by Marilyn and Will Cantrell, bred by Stacy Duncan, Colleen McDaniel and Cat Shelby and Reserve Winner’s Bitch was Poole’s Ide Lila Beaufield owned by Gregory Siner, Bridget Knarnlov and Sam Jenio, bred by Greg Siner and Sam Jenio.

Best Junior Handler from the Open Senior class was Loren Ross with CH Poole’s Ide American Idol RN, owned by Colleen McDaniel, Stacy Duncan, Loren Ross and Tom Urban, bred by Colleen McDaniel and Stacy Duncan.

Veteran Dog 7+ years was won by GCH MACH8 Cuardach Blaze The Trail CD RE JH MXS3 MJB3, owned by Stephanie O’Reilly and Jeff Rife, bred by Stephanie O’Reilly and Betty Wathne, with Veteran Bitch 7+ years being GCH Chantico’s Spirt In The Surf JH RN CD NA NAJ CGC RA OA OAJ NF, owned by Kim Kezer, Jeremy Kezer and Mindy Garbarino, bred by Kim Kezer and Mindy Garbarino. Winning dog in the Gun Dog class was CH Ildanoch Beckett’s Dublin Brew JH, owned by Timothy and Ruth Connor and bred by Deborah Hughes, Kenneth Hughes and Helen Howard.

Winning bitch in the Gun Dog class was Realta’s Cassiopeia RN TD JHU CGC WD, owned by Deborah Hughes and Colleen McDaniel, bred by Rosemary Sexton.

Best Puppy, 4-6 months was Poole’s Ide Under Breezy Sky (bitch), owned by Doug and Sue Underland, bred by Greg Siner.

From the Non-Regular classes, Stud Dog was GCH Poole’s Ide Reversal of Fortune WD with Brood Bitch awarded to GCH Mallyree’s Contessa at Poole’s Ide CGC, owned by Emily Pikul and Greg Siner, bred by Marion Hopkins and Pam Manus.

BOB GCH Poole’s Ide Reversal of Fortune WD Photo Mike Wilkinson

BOS CH Poole’s Ide Last Dance Photo Mike Wilkinson

BOW Tara’s Utter Chaos Photo Mike Wilkinson

Select Dog CH Beaufield’s Boundary Waters At Poole’s Ide Photo Mike Wilkinson

Winner’s Bitch Flintcrest Firing Cupid’s Arrow Photo Mike Wilkinson

GCH Stanegate It’s Showtime JHU WC WD Photo Mike Wilkinson

AOM GCH Whistle Stop’s Wind On The Water Photo Mike Wilkinson

AOM GCH Mallyree’s Here Comes The Son RN CGC Photo Mike Wilkinson

Best Junior Handler Loren Ross with CH Poole’s Ide American Idol RN Photo Mike Wilkinson

Reserve Winners Dog Flintcrest Finten Forbes Photo Mike Wilkinson

Reserve Winners Bitch Poole’s Ide Lila Beaufield Photo Mike Wilkinson


The day was capped with the Awards Banquet and auctions. There was one special award presented recognizing two breeders that bred perhaps the most outstanding litter in recent times. MBIS MBISS GCH Poole’s Ide Got Water JH WC WD RN and CH Whistle Stop’s The Wind Moriah CD RA JH produced Riley, Annah, Bella, Merlin and Claire, all Best in Show winners, earned in the United States and in Europe. The award was aptly titled, Once In A Blue Moon and was presented to Stacy Duncan and Colleen McDaniel. What a fine way to cap a specialty.

Colleen McDaniel and Stacy Duncan Photo Cat Shelby

Oh, and in case you are wondering, the table favors at the specialty banquet were a glass cookie jar decorated with this year’s logo and with a lobster snood inside!