Sweetbay’s Water Rescue Dogs

The first NCA water test was held in the mid 1970’s, roughly the same time that Sweetbay was born. From the beginning, Sweetbay dogs were known for their powerful love of water and their natural instincts for retrieving and lifesaving. It truly seemed that this sport had been made just for them! And their love for this sport has not waned in the intervening years. Sweetbay dogs have earned an incredible number of water titles, far more than any other kennel.

For an explanation of the title abbreviations, click here.

Would you like to train your dog for water work? For the perfect book, click here.

The Junior Exercises (WD)

There are two levels to an NCA water test. The junior level, has six exercises, and a dog must pass all six to earn the W.D. (water dog) title. First, he must heel and do a recall off lead individually, and then perform a down-stay in a group. The five water exercises that follow are basic to water work. The dog must swim out and fetch a bumper and deliver it to his owner. He must retrieve a bulky item (boat cushion or life jacket) that’s been placed out to sea without his knowledge. He must swim out and carry a rope to a "drowner." He swims out to an adrift rowboat and tows it to shore. And he swims politely with his owner, away from shore, and then turns to shore on his owner’s command and tows his owner back in.

These Sweetbay dogs have earned the junior level WD (water dog) title:

W.D. Newfoundlands

Sweetbay’s Albert CD TD WD DD, OFA NF-4815 (Patti Pigeon)

Sweetbay’s Asia AmCanCD TD WD DD, OFA NF-3850 (Pat Aires)

Sweetbay’s Aurora CD MX MXJ NA-P NAJ-P FN WD, OFA NF-7502, EL1660 (Anna & Pete Lewandowski)

Sweetbay’s Barry CD TD WD DD, OFA NF-4726, EL205 (Maureen & John McCord)

Sweetbay’s Brienna AmCanCD WD DD, OFA NF-2951 (Karen Brockway)

Sweetbay’s Camille WD (Greg Clarke)

Sweetbay’s Charlotte O’Hara CD TD CanTDX WD (Claudia Aufhauser)

Sweetbay’s Cheechako AmCanCDX TD WD TDD, OFA NF-4603, EL173 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Chesapeake CD OA OAJ WD TDD, OFA NF-5127, EL321 (George Brown)

Sweetbay’s Cimarron CD TD WD, OFA NF-5789, EL608 (Lois Apfel)

Sweetbay’s Cutter AmCanCD AmCanTD NA WD AmCanDD, OFA NF-5354 (Frosti Lange)

Sweetbay’s Darby AmCanCD RE TD WD AmCanDD, OFA NF-6811, EL1205 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Darnelle CD WD (Carol Murray)

Sweetbay’s Darwin CD TD WD, OFA NF-5772) (Julie Daniel)

Sweetbay’s Effie White CD WD, OFA NF-1807 (Joanne Apter)

Sweetbay’s Emmaline TD WD DD, EL746 (Brad & Jill Wall)

Sweetbay’s Faeroe CD RA WD CanWRD, OFA NF-8603 (Anne Seeley)

Sweetbay’s Falco CD WD DD, OFA NF-2214 (Anne McPherson)

Sweetbay’s George WD (Jim Lonergan)

Sweetbay’s Gracie WD, OFA NF-8111 (Dominique & Rob Dennis)

Sweetbay’s Granite WD, OFA EL594 (Ida & Robert Freimer)

Sweetbay’s Hatteras CD WD DD (Sonja Carter)

Sweetbay’s Jefferson TD WD (Art Hafdelin/Marilyn Wilson)

Sweetbay’s Kayla AmCanCDX WD TDD CanDD, OFA NF-3060 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Kira UD CanCD TD WD CanWRD, OFA NF-3451 (Linda Rand)

Sweetbay’s Little Buttercup CD WD (Maureen McCord)

CanCh Sweetbay’s Meara CD CanCDX AmCanTD WD AmCanDD, OFA NF-2899 (Bonnie Fergusson)

Sweetbay’s Megalesia CD WD (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Meghan TD WD DD (Cheryl Dondino)

Sweetbay’s Mocha WD (Ida & Robert Freimer)

Sweetbay’s Molly Brown AmCanCD WD, OFA NF-2805 (Annie Miksch)

Sweetbay’s Nicholas TD WD, OFA NF-4266 (Patti Dropping)

Sweetbay’s Orion CD WD, OFA NF-1302T (Carol Murray)

Sweetbay’s Petra CDX U-CDX RN UR01 WD DD (Sharon & Michael Marcus)

Sweetbay’s Puffin CD WD, OFA NF-1994 (Annie Miksch)

Sweetbay’s Rabble Rouser CD WD, OFA NF-1254 (Sharon LaStair)

CanCh Sweetbay's Ramsey CanCD CanTDX WD, OFA NF-7253, EL1479 (Ronna Webb)

Sweetbay’s Scannon CD WD, OFA NF-1643 (Linda Barnard)

Sweetbay’s Shelby WD (John Haas & Cindy Sowers)

Ch Sweetbay’s Skyler CD WD, OFA NF-5180, EL125 (Kathy Sylvia)

Sweetbay’s Triton CD WD DD (Marilyn & Allan Rhodes)

Sweetbay’s Whitney AmCanCD WD DD, OFA NF-4489 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Wyatt CD RN WD, OFA NF-9155, EL-2930 (Kathy Robbins)

The following Sweetbay dogs have earned the senior level WRD (water rescue dog) title.

The Senior Exercises (WRD)

The senior level takes the junior tasks and expands and complexes them. To earn a senior WRD (water rescue dog) title, the dog must retrieve a life jacket and a boat cushion, one at a time, in the order the judge directs. He must leap from a boat to retrieve a paddle thrown overboard, and bring the paddle back to his owner in the boat. He must discriminate, deciding which of three swimmers is "drowning," and carry a lifering to the person in distress and get him safely back on shore. He must fetch a small weighted article that is tossed into deep water. From shore, he must take a rope out to a rowboat that’s adrift. A steward grabs the end of the line, and the dog then swims to shore with the boat, beaching it. His final exercise is a heartwarming one. His owner falls from the boat, and the dog leaps to the rescue, towing the owner to safety.

W.R.D. Newfoundlands

Sweetbay’s Afton WRD, OFA NF-8366, EL2312 (Debby & Ron Giard)

Sweetbay’s Alexis AmCanCD U-CD RA WRD CanWRD DD,OFA NF-8169, EL2157 (Ken Norman)

Sweetbay’s Alison UDX WRD DD, OFA NF-4756 (Nancy Nevin)

Sweetbay’s Annapolis CDX OA OAJ WRD DD, OFA EL761 (Kathy Brown)

Sweebay’s Azimuth WRD DD, OFA NF7237, EL1470 (Robin and Andrew Nelson)

Sweetbay’s Bailey UDT CanUD WRD DD (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Baron CD WRD DD, OFA NF-2586 (Brian Smith)

Sweetbay’s Black Pearl AmCanCD WRD, OFA NF-781 (Marilyn & John Ellis)

VN Ch Sweetbay’s Bonne Amie CDX CanCD TD WRD DD, OFA NF-826 (Pam Mohr)

Sweetbay’s Brannaugh CD RE WRD, OFA NF-12061, EL5580 (Kelly Ryan)

Sweetbay’s Briare CD CanCDX TD WRD DD, OFA NF-3845 (Lee Udelsman)

VN AmCanCh Sweetbay’s Brigadier AmCanCD WRD TDD, OFA NF-1737 (Pat Aires)

Sweetbay’s Bristol’s Brigate CDX WRD DD, OFA NF-2405 (Dawn Hockman)

Sweetbay’s Brody RE WRD TDD CanDD, OFA NF-8266, EL2238 (Mark & Jean Ochsner)

Sweetbay’s Calypso CDX CanCD WRD DD, OFA NF-l300T (Pam Mohr)

Sweetbay’s Carly CDX CanCD WRD DD, OFA NF-2345 (Pam Mohr)

WA Sweetbays Caspian CDX BN RE TD NAP NJP WD-1 WRD-5 DD-1 DDX-2,  OFA NF-11217, EL-4881 (Terri Desnica)

Sweetbay’s Chamomile Alum WRD (Frank Roderique)

Sweetbay’s Chanel WRD (Dawn Hockman)

Sweetbay’s Charlotte AmCanCD TDX CanTD WRD CanWRDX TDD CanDD, OFA NF-3021 (Michael & Sharon Marcus)

Sweetbay’s Chelsea UDT CanUD WRD DD, OFA NF-1104T (Cheryl Dondino)

Sweetbay’s Chinaberry CD WRD, OFA NF-700T (Judi & Ellis Adler)

VN CH Sweetbay’s Coast CDX RE WRD TDD, OFA NF-7899, EL1956 (Susan Kerby)

Sweetbay’s Coburn CanCD CanTD WRD CanWRDX AmCanDD, OFA NF-4290 (Margaret Chandler)

Sweetbay’s Colby CD WRD, OFA NF-2165 (Karen Brockway)

Sweetbay’s Coriander Alum CD WRD (Frank Roderique)

Sweetbay’s Cosmopolitan CD WRD TDD, OFA NF-4311 (Debby Rothwell)

Sweetbay’s Coventry AmCanUD AmCanTD AmCanWRD TDD, OFA NF-2182 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

VN Ch Sweetbay’s Destry AmCanCD WRD DD, OFA NF-1561T (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Ch Sweetbay’s Dylan CDX CanCD WRD, OFA NF-ll83T (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Eli WRD (Bernie Latronico)

Sweetbay’s Eliot AmCanCD TD WRD AmCanDD, OFA NF-2969 (Mike & Debby Walthers)

VN Ch Sweetbay’s Erin AmCanCDX TD WRD DD, OFA NF-1936T (Mel Wunderlich)

Sweetbay’s Esme AmCanCD TD WRD AmCanDD, OFA NF-7215, EL1456 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Far Shores Troy CD WRD, OFA NF-1182T (Rita Jean Browne)

Sweetbay’s Fiona AmCanCD RE TD WRD AmCanDD, EL1924 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Fletcher AmCanCD WRD (Butch Martin)

Ch Sweetbay’s Gabriel AmCanCD WRD (Anne Snow)

CanCh Sweetbay’s Gideon CD CanCDX WRD CanWRDX AmCanDD (Bonnie Fergusson)

Sweetbay’s Gilson WRD DD, OFA NF-4413 (Mike & Susan Acosta)

VN AmCan Ch Sweetbay’s Harmony UDT CanCDX Can TD WRD DD, OFA NF-1824T (Cheryl Dondino)

Sweetbay’s Harrier AmCanCDX TD WRD CanWRDX DD, OFA NF-4274 (Mary Ellen Thien)

Sweetbay’s Hayley WRD DD, OFA NF-10036, EL-3686 (Carol & Mike Perkowski)

Ch Sweetbay’s Holly CD WRD (Marilyn & John Ellis)

Sweetbay’s Illuminata UD WRD DD, OFA NF-6397 (Susan Kerby)

VN Ch Sweetbay’s James CD RN WRD DD, OFA NF-8867, EL2706 (Maria Rizzuto)

VN AmCan Ch Sweetbay’s Jason AmCanCD AmCanTD WRD DD, OFA NF-1379T (Pam Mohr)

Sweetbay’s Jellicoe CDX WRD, OFA NF-1301T (Karen Brockway)

Sweetbay’s Jessica Tandy WRD, OFA NF-472 (Marnie Allbritten)

Sweetbay’s Jillian CDX CanCD WRD CanWRDX DD, OFA NF-3844 (Cheryl Dondino)

Ch Sweetbay’s Jordan CD WRD, OFA NF-902T (Marilyn & John Ellis)

VN Ch Sweetbay’s Josie CD TD WRD DD (Gaby Cohen)

VN Ch Sweetbay’s Karisma AmCanCD WRD AmCanDD, OFA NF-1616 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Kate CD WRD, OFA NF-7226, EL1461 (Nancy Nevin)

Sweetbay’s Kestrel CD TD WRD, OFA NF-633T (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Kona AmCanCDX WRD CanWRDX TDD CanDDX, OFA NF-2351 (Sharon & Michael Marcus)

CanCh Sweetbay’s Kyak CD CanCDX WRD CanWRDX DD CanDDX W-FD FDN, OFA NF-7189 (Bonnie Fergusson)

Ch Sweetbay’s Leonine Knight AmCanCD AmCanTD WRD, OFA NF-632T (Pat Aires)

VN Ch Sweetbay’s Liam CD RN WRD TDD, OFA NF-7984, EL2023 (Patti Pigeon)

SpCH Sweetbay’s Lyric CD TDX RE WRD OAP OJP OFP (VCD1) OAC EGC OJC TNE TGO WVO UAG1 CSL3-F CSL3-R CSL3-S CSL3-H , OFA-NF 7437, EL1624 (Lois Apfel)

Sweetbay’s MacArthur UDT CanCDX WRD DD, OFA NF-2893 (Lee Udelsman)

Sweetbay’s Mandalay AmCanUD WRD DD, OFA NF-1812 (Butch Martin)

Sweetbay’s McKenna AmCanCDX TD WRD CanWRDX TDD CanDD, OFA EL602 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Meridian WRD DD, OFA NF-6328 (Robin & Andrew Nelson)

Sweetbay’s Mississippi CD RE WRD, OFA NF-7892, EL1951 (Kathy Robbins)

VN Ch Sweetbay’s Misty AmCanCDX WRD DD, OFA NF-736T (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Nico CD RE WRD, NF-11172, EL-4760 (Jean & Mark Ochsner)

Sweetbay’s Noah CD TD WRD DD (Marilyn Wilson & Art Hafdelin)

Sweetbay’s Nova CD U-CD RAE TD WRD CanWRDX TDD CanDD, OFA NF-8113, EL2111 (Jean & Mark Ochsner)

Sweetbay’s Paisley AmCanCD AmCanTD AmCanWRD AmCanDD, OFA NF-4263 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Parmalee AmCanCD AmCanTD AmCanWRD TDD CanDD, OFA NF-5341 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Peter Courageous WRD, OFA NF-473 (Judy Cantrell)

Sweetbay’s Pi BN RN WRD, OFA NF-11627 (Eleanor Cantrell)

Sweetbay’s Quin CD RE WRD TDD, OFA NF-8101, EL2105 (Sue Raney)

Sweetbay’s Random WRD, OFA NF-2916 (Charlene Rhyne)

Sweetbay’s Reglisse WRD, OFA NF-9277, EL-3049 (Francois & Christel Doremieux)

Sweetbay’s Reuben AmCanCD WRD CanWRDX AmCanDD, OFA NF-4095 (Sharon & Michael Marcus)

Sweetbay’s Ricochet CD RN WRD, OFA NF-7439, EL1625 (Kathy Robbins)

Sweetbay’s Rigel CD TD WRD DD, OFA NF-6511, EL1011 (Barbara Adams and Jim Pushnik)

Sweetbay’s Rio AmCanCDX AmCanTD AmCanWRD AmCanDD, OFA NF-3065, EL93 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

VN Ch Sweetbay’s Romney AmCanCD WRD TDD, OFA NF-1502T (Pat Aires)

WA Sweetbay’s Ruca CDX RE WRD TDD NAP NAJ, OFA EL4152 (Sue Raney)

Sweetbay’s Sailor UDX WRD DD, OFA NF-3470 (Nancy Nevin)

Sweetbay’s SaltyDog AmCanCD TD WRD CanWRD TDD, OFA NF-3450, EL7 (Gaby Cohen)

Sweetbay’s Scout CD WRD DD, OFA NF-5140, EL323 (Art Hafdelin & Marilyn Wilson)

Sweetbay’s Seabury AmCanCD WRD DD, OFA NF-2686 (Bill & Cathy Meade)

Ch Sweetbay’s Seaquest Gayla CD WRD (Mary Lou Browne)

Sweetbay’s Seaworthy Gale CDX AmCanTD WRD, OFA NF-635T (Claire Carr)

Sweetbay’s Shadyn AmCanCD TD WRD CanWRDX DD, OFA NF-3336 (Byron Caine)

Sweetbay’s Shandy WRD DD, OFA NF-2052 (Wendy Wallace)

VN Ch Sweetbay’s Shane CD WRD DD, OFA NF-2211 (Charlene Rhyne)

Sweetbay’s Sherpa WRD DD, OFA NF-6299, EL903 (Debby & Ron Giard)

Sweetbay’s Sienna Brandy CD WRD, OFA NF-1072T (Lee Prescott)

Sweetbay’s Sonnet CDX U-CDX RE UR01 TD WRD CanWRDX, OFA NF-8250, EL2224 (Michael & Sharon Marcus)

Sweetbay’s Stoker CD WRD (Nancy Nevin)

VN Ch Sweetbay’s Sullivan CD RE WRD DD , EL4795 (Patti Pigeon)

Sweetbay’s Truman UD WRD DD, OFA NF-6292, EL900 (Sonja Carter)

Sweetbay’s Vivian CD RE TD WRD TDD, OFA NF-10505, EL-4130 (Maria Rizzuto)

Sweetbay’s Where Away CDX TDX WRD (Mimi Long)

Sweetbay’s Zara CDX WRD DD ThD, OFA NF-10497, EL4123 (Pat & Rick Pourchot)

The Water Rescue Excellent Exercises (WRDX)

The exercises are six in number. In the first, two victims crouch in the water, out of sight behind an apparently abandoned rowboat which is positioned far from shore. When the victims call for help, the dog is sent to find them and then tow them, either singly or both at once, safely back to shore.
The second exercise starts with the dog and handler on board, far out to sea, facing shore. The handler gives the dog the knotted end of a very long rope and commands him to jump. The handler feeds out the line (keeping the other end on board) as he sends the dog to shore, where a steward awaits to claim the rope.
For the third exercise, an apparently abandoned, unmanned boat drifts in the water far from shore. A rope and bumper are attached to the bow and hang down in the water, on the back side of the boat, out of sight of the dog. The dog is sent from shore to find the bumper and line, which he does by circling the boat till he spots the rope. Then, grabbing on, he tows the boat to shore.
Exercise four begins with a wet-suited and gloved victim f;at-out and face up in the water, doing a dead-man float, feigning unconsciousness. The dog is sent from shore. He swims out, grasps the victim by the hand or wrist, and pushes or pulls him to safety, propelling him to shallow water where his handler waits to help.
The fifth exercise was quite complex, and proved the most difficult for most aspiring X dogs to master. It begins again with the dog and handler on board a boat, with the platformed end facing shore. Arrayed in a wide arc, a goodly distance from the boat and widely separated from each other, are three swimmers. They begin calling for help and splashing about. The dog must leap from the boat, swim directly to one victim and tow him immediately back to the boat, then turn and fetch a second, and then a third. All must be returned to the boat; the exercise is over when the final victim is safe.
The sixth exercise proved another training challenge. A four man raft with a steward aboard suddenly comes to a bad end, as it flips upside down, far from shore. The steward gives a mighty yell as he (“accidentally”) goes over, then winds up underneath, out of sight, as the raft now floats upside down on the water. The dog is sent from shore, and must swim out, then dive under the raft, rescue the victim, dive again to exit the raft, then tow the victim to shallow water.
Any dog who earns a water title – junior or senior – can hold his head up with pride. A dog who earns a WRDX , though, is a huge cut above. The dog and handler who reaches this goal will know they have accomplished something truly difficult and worthwhile.

W.R.D.X. Newfoundlands

VN WA Ch Sweetbay’s Benson CDX RE WRDX TDD, OFA NF-7511, EL1666 (Patti Pigeon)

WA Sweetbay’s Gusto UDT WRDX TDD OA OAJ (VCD2), OFA NF-7523 (Ann Dunnigan)

Sweetbay’s Olivia CDX THD WRDX, OFA NF-8222, EL-2199 (Rick & Pat Pourchot)

Sweetbay’s Remy UD RN DD WRDX, OFA NF-9157 (Ann Dunnigan)

Sweetbay’s Sloane CDX RA WRDX DD, OFA NF-6830, EL1214 (Debby Rothwell)

For more information about the Adlers’ dogs:

Sweetbay Newfoundlands
Judi & Ellis Adler
12320 SW Malloy
Sherwood OR 97140
(503) 682-0604

Judi Adler takes four-month-old Jess for a Yak board ride. From the first, Jess instinctively understood how to maintain balance, ensuring a safe and delightful cruise.


Historically, Newfoundlands used to fish off riverbanks, standing stock-still, belly deep, and watching carefully, then pouncing on trout or salmon who ventured too close.  Many Sweetbay dogs still have this fishing instinct.

                  and Judi

Rio shows the drive and power that are the hallmarks of Sweetbay water dogs as he leaps to rescue his owner, Judi Adler.


Paisley carries a life ring to a "drowning victim" in an NCA water test.

Retrieving is much more fun when there’s a buddy hot on your heels. Ten week old Fiona has possession of the fetch toy, but not for long, if four month old Lenox has any say in the matter.

                  in Canoe

Water instinct comes out in many ways.  It can show itself by strong retrieving, powerful swimming, a special alertness when humans are in the water - and the innate ability to balance in a canoe.

                  with Bumper

Sweetbay dogs possess a natural affinity for water.

In a water test, the dog must swim out to an adrift boat, come close enough to grab a line extended by the steward, and then tow the boat to shore by pulling that line. One year old Esme finds this exercise is not only easy but fun!

Sweetbay Newfoundlands possess strong instinctive water skills. Along with the ability to retrieve and rescue comes the instinct to life-guard. Kirby takes this chore very seriously, and scans the shoreline constantly to make sure the two dozen summer-camp children splashing in the river come to no harm.

Exuberance in the water is genetic in origin. Breed for it, and you can maintain and intensify it. But if you breed for other traits and don’t pay attention, it soon evaporates. Here at Sweetbay, we pay constant attention to traits such as that intense love of water. Kyak, charging the waves at Crescent Beach in British Columbia, exemplifies the drive and energy and exuberance that are the trademark of Sweetbay dogs.

When you live in Ohio, a lot of the year features weather unsuitable for swimming. Susan Kerby’s Lu is an intense water dog, and she lives for those summer months. But that doesn’t mean winter is boring. Nor does it mean her water gear has to be put away. After all, a bumper fetch done normally in the water is twice as wild when done in the snow!

Our Sweetbay Newfoundlands are often called upon to do demonstrations for the public. They show off their natural skills as draft dogs, obedience dogs, agility dogs, and of course water rescue dogs. Only every once in a while, the demo location has no water. This is not a problem for a well-trained dog. At Fort Clatsop, there is no swimmable water, only a tiny green meadow. Parmalee tows her boat across the grass as the spectators cheer her on.

Water dogs don’t need water to have fun. Kyak tows a life ring across the grass, performing a simulated rescue.

That reputation as a water lifesaver came naturally to Newfoundlands. Teeka takes her role as a water dog very seriously, and expands it to include keeping an alert eye during the kids’ nightly bath.

One of the best parts about water training with a Newfoundland is that it gets you outdoors, sometimes to the most amazingly beautiful locations. Dan Nichols tosses a bumper for high-spirited Maggie, who retrieves it at full speed.

Sharon and Michael Marcus wanted to celebrate Reuben’s birthday in a special way, so they took him to his favorite place: the Pacific Ocean. He charged the waves for hours, retrieving endlessly. Though it was his tenth birthday he was celebrating, he is just as fast and powerful as he was as a youngster. Once a water dog, always a water dog.

Waves, sand, salt water and seaweed make the ocean a prime Newfoundland playground. Eight year old Parmalee is a tireless retriever, and thinks the bigger the waves, the better.

Many Newfoundlands nowadays are disinclined to swim, and would rather hang out on shore. But Sweetbay dogs love the water, and (like Daytona who’s pictured here), can’t wait to get in.