It is a real privilege to have been asked to review the book by Wanda Sooby and Di Williamson. I am aware of the many hours of research, discussion and sheer effort that went into its production and it is a real delight to be able to say, simply, “It was worth it.”
Any attempt to distil the history of a breed – any breed – into a comprehensible narrative is always going to be problematic, and open to argument and challenge. Much of the historical information about our breed is in a language which is not our own. Nevertheless Wanda Sooby gives a comprehensive account of the development of the Spanish Water Dog as a working companion to the inhabitants of what was to become its native land, and somehow succeeds in making a coherent account of all the differing theories, fiercely defended and debated, on its origins.
But this is not just a history lesson, of interest to those who take pleasure in such knowledge. She highlights throughout her account the ways in which the breed’s historical development impacts upon the behaviour and mind-set of our dogs today, and at that point it becomes required knowledge for all of us who want to ensure our dogs’ lives are happy and fulfilled.
Equally important, it’s “a good read.” This section of the book held my attention in very adverse circumstances!
For many of us, Di Williamson needs no introduction in her role as trainer, and her input regarding behaviour and training is another reason why this book is a “must have.” It is so clear and comprehensive that it would not surprise me to see owners and handlers of other breeds acquiring the book simply to access this particular wisdom. For those of us with Spanish Water Dogs of course it has the advantage of having been written with the particular features of the breed specifically in mind. It dovetails neatly with the earlier information on the physical, emotional and mental development of these dogs so highly valued for their ability to adapt to any discipline required, and their willingness to perform any task they have been set to a high standard.
This is a book written by two very knowledgeable people, who have combined their knowledge for the benefit of the reader. I was asked by the authors to be critical in my approach, and in fact I read it within a critical framework. I finished the task with the feeling of regret reserved for a book you have enjoyed so much that you wanted to carry on reading, and, quite simply, I cannot recommend it too highly.