There are a lot of jobs for dogs. While these jobs have dwindled over the last hundred years with the invention of automated technologies, the need for dog workers and the desire of people to utilize dogs for work purposes has held on. Thus is the story of the Portuguese Water Dog. This breed was originally a fisherman's dog, and after the invention of mechanical technologies that could do the same jobs but without needing food, sleep, or human attention, the Portuguese Water Dog found himself ousted from the fishing world. But there are still jobs for the Portuguese Water Dog, and many of them make a big difference in the lives of humans every day.
There are two jobs that should be addressed to truly understand the nature of the Portuguese Water Dog. The first job is as a water retriever, the very job they were originally bred to do. In San Francisco, just outside of Pacific Bell Park, baseballs fly over the walls and into the bay. The San Francisco Giants aren't going to go fetch these balls during their practice sessions or their games, so who has the job of fishing baseballs out of the bay? Portuguese Water Dogs, of course.
A San Francisco based organization called the Baseball Aquatic Retrieval Korps, or B.A.R.K., is a group of people and their well-trained Portuguese Water Dogs whose sole job it is to retrieve the baseballs slammed out of the park by the Giants or their opponents. The dogs are required to jump into the freezing bay, find the baseballs, retrieve them, and bring them back to their masters who are patiently waiting on shore. This service not only keeps the bay clear of balls that might get stuck in boat motors and cause problems, but also keeps the balls from cluttering and polluting the bay.
Another job for the Portuguese Water Dog is that of rescue worker. There are two ways the Portuguese Water Dog can be a rescuer: in the water and on land. There are many organizations that train Portuguese Water Dogs to rescue drowning swimmers from the ocean. But there is also some use of specially trained Portuguese Water Dogs to find people in piles of wreckage. One example of this was a Portuguese Water Dog who helped FEMA workers find people on Ground Zero after the 9/11 disaster. While this dog is not a typical example of what the average Portuguese Water Dog can do, he is a great example of what they can be trained to do. And with such important jobs on their resumes, it's surprising that Portuguese Water Dogs aren't doing more of this type of work.