Jim and Sonja Santos

Marc and Sandra Shults


Pam Barnett

Mike and Dean Doty

David Green

Dan and Debbie Heinze

Steve and Jan Hildebrand

Mart Miller

Lew Scheinert

Jan Shirreffs

Janis Watts

President - Mart Miller

Vice Pesident - Mike Doty

Treasurer - Dave Green

Recording Secretary - Kathy Finley

​talk became even more serious and this small group who by now had creatively began to refer to themselves as the “Phoenix Area PWD Owners”, decided that they should have a supported entry at one of the future dog shows.  ​​​​​​​​​​​Now, I’m not really certain, but to tell the truth I don’t think a single one person in this group had any idea what a supported entry was all about, but they were not to be daunted by a lack of knowledge in that regard and forge ahead they did! Oh my! Once they received approval from the PWDCA for the supported entry, what plans they made! Invitations were sent out across the country expounding the fabulous plans for the festivities to be hosted by the “Phoenix Area PWD Owners”. In fact, to give you an idea of their creativity and confidence in this new endeavor, here is an excerpt from one of the invitations sent out:

“We have been informed by a reliable source that PWDs will be coming from all over the country to our Arizona supported entry. Their owners will be allowed to come with them to be a part of the festivities. Some of the dogs have already been seen on boats at sea, others will be on their bicycles conditioning themselves, while others, it is reported have chosen hot air balloons! Whatever the mode of transportation, it appears as though these dogs are determined to get to Phoenix one way or another. No doubt they have heard of our great fall weather, or perhaps the good times that are planned for them and their owners for whatever reason, don’t let them leave you behind!”

Now, does that give you an idea about this group’s enthusiasm, creativity and motivation to put on one heck of a supported entry? Well, they did just that! It was October 1990, and there were a record number of PWD entries for the supported entry; I couldn’t find the exact count, but as I recall it was in excess of 50 dogs entered in the shows. Not only did they break entry records, they had sent invitations to the PWDCA Board of Directors and by golly if several of them didn’t join in the fun!

Those who attended representing the PWDCA Board were President Maryanne Murray, and Directors Letty Afong, Bev Rafferty and Bob Arends. Not to rest on their laurels with an outstanding entry, the “Phoenix Area PWD Owners”, also hosted a fantastic deep pit style BBQ dinner catered by the Burnt Biscuit Bunch, and during the evening had a grooming presentation by Judy Seibert and also a general discussion question and answer session with special guest of the event, Sonja Santos who flew from New York with her husband Jimmy. Yes indeed, without a doubt this was one huge success, and to think it was done by this small group of “Phoenix Area PWD Owners”.

Well, the fun, camaraderie, and success of the supported entry really got the Phoenix Area group to thinking that perhaps they might want to repeat the supported entry again next year. The more they thought the more they realized that they had become a pretty cohesive group, no major personality challenges that could not be overcome and most of all they all had as their prime concern enjoying life with their PWDs, whether that be at a dog show or just hanging out!

Needless to say this kind of thinking ultimately led to the decision that maybe, just maybe, the Phoenix Area Group should organize and become a REAL PWD CLUB! Hmmm, that wasn’t such a bad idea, they agreed, but how the heck do you do that? None of them had ever become a club before and none of them were really certain just how to go about it. This seemed to be the first major challenge the group had to face, but not for long as someone amongst them had the foresight to check with the AKC about this very thing. Ah yes, the American Kennel Club to the rescue! Comes forth the handy little folder from AKC entitled “Formation of Dog Clubs” or something like that, and that was all this group (the Phoenix Area PWD Group) needed to start to work on becoming a REAL PWD CLUB!

It was in December 1990, that the group came together in all seriousness and determined to set about developing a Constitution and Bylaws, coming up with a slate of officers, agreeing on a name for the club (this was the toughest assignment of all), and other requirements set forth in the AKC booklet on becoming a dog club. There were several organizational meetings held in the ensuing winter & spring months of 1991; bylaws were adjusted, changed, tweaked and hard, tedious work went into the final product to be presented at the first meeting. Also, there was the slate of officers to be developed, seemed like not everyone wanted to be an officer although everyone did think that someone else should be! So the slate of new officers took a little time to develop.

But, the real kicker in this preparation of the new club was what the heck to call it! Oh Boy! Did we come up with some fabulous, descriptive, sometimes loony, suggestions for names! By the wayside went Arizona PWDC, along with it went Dry Gulch PWDC, then down the tubes went Desert City PWDC, up in smoke went the Cactus State PWDC along with the Salt River PWDC, and several others along with them.

Whoa! Wait just a minute! Now there were a few who thought Salt River wasn’t too bad, after all it is the Salt River that provides water for several lakes, along with many, many uses in our great state, and after all the Salt River runs directly through the city of Phoenix, although it is a dry river bed, it still is there! Oh come on, said others! There are so many dog clubs already named after the Salt River, we want something original! And then, out of the blue, one of the wise old sages in The Group said, “I wonder what Salt River in Portuguese is?” And, any guesses on just what Rio Salgado means? That was it and everyone agreed it was the greatest, Rio Salgado Portuguese Water Dog Club, and now on to our organizational meeting. . . .

And The Story Continues . . . . On May 8, 1991 with twelve members of the Phoenix Area PWD Group present, the first and organizational meeting of the Rio Salgado Portuguese Water Dog Club was called to order by David Green, the interim club chairperson. Members present were: Denise Tinker, Peggy Sosh, Dean Doty, Mike Doty, Steve Hildebrand, Jan Hildebrand, Kathy Finley, Mart Miller, Lew Scheinert, Janis Watts, David Green and Pam Barnett.

A motion was made and seconded to ratify the Constitution and by-laws as set forth in a previous informal gathering. This motion was passed unanimously. The nominating committee presented their slate of officers for the new club:

There were no nominations from the floor. The motion to close the nominations was made and seconded and the officers were elected by unanimous vote. Among the more important matters of business addressed on this historical night were: Setting up Committees; Opening a Bank Account; Supported Entry Chairperson, and most I important of all, including a “Brag & Cry” session at each and every meeting!

At the next meeting held on June 12, 1991 the matter of defining charter members of the club was discussed and provisionally it was determined that those charter members would be those present at the May 8, 1991 meeting and would also include those members who had paid their dues prior to that meeting. A list of Charter and well as Founding members will be included at the end of this article.

This core group of PWD fanciers moved forward with the same vigor and enthusiasm they showed in the early beginning and created a strong, healthy and enjoyable PWD club for the members to be a part of. They continued hosting supported entries in the tradition of the first one and built a reputation for their club of solid respect and genuine PWD responsibility among their fellow PWD fanciers. Early water work was introduced and “Splash Day” became a common term across the country. Many of the original group are still involved with Portuguese Water Dogs, some are not. The years have seen many changes in RSPWDC; some of our original PWDs are no longer with us, only a few of the Founding members remain, as do the Charter members. However, the legacy continues . . . .

And The Future Is Bright . . . . Today, Rio Salgado Portuguese Water Dog club is a viable, active group, not only of Phoenix Area PWD Owners, but PWD owners from across the state and from surrounding states! The membership is enthusiastic, motivated, creative and always seeking new ways to be active and involved with their PWDs.

Past years have seen activities such as our Spring Thing (Supported Entry), Hiking With your PWD, a Sue Ailsby Clicker Seminar, A Water Day, Our Fall Fiesta in Tucson, Ports in the Pines in Prescott, and more!  Currently we hold events such as our Supported Entry each spring, grooming workshops, water workshops and trials, a fall "Festa", a Golden Oldies celebration and our annual holiday party. 

Ah yes, it was an enthusiastic, small group of Phoenix Area PWD Owners that started it all. Today the group may be a bit larger with more dogs, other than that, Déjà vu!


John and Suzanne Healy                                   Andrew and Beth Lenick

Carol Danto                                                          Andy and Lynda Wolin

Jim and Sonja Santos                                         Denise Dean

Dorothy Dalegowski                                           Kathy Finley

Elsa Sell                                                                 Denise Tinker

William Farr                                                         Peggy Sosh

Paul and Florence Garbler                                Marc and Sandra Shults​


Once upon a time . . . . . in the late 1980s there was a small group of Portuguese Water Dog owners (twelve of them to be exact), who would once in awhile get together with their dogs, usually at shows, and talk about all of the joys of owning PWDs and what a special breed they were. Soon the talk turned to more serious things such as inviting other PWD owners to attend the shows so they could see more PWDs and meet others who owned them. Then the 

"The Beginning"

Courtesy of Janis Watts, Founding Member