A Kennel Visit With Greg Siner and the Poole's Ide Irish Water Spaniels

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The genesis of the Poole’s Ide Irish Water Spaniels begins in, of all places, an apple tree. It was the early 1970s and a clear New England morning when Greg Siner and his younger sister, Melissa, climbed this particular tree in the yard of the house into which their family had recently moved. As they scanned their new surroundings, the pair heard a faraway noise coming from the local woods. The sound was mesmerizing, Greg thought; a cacophony of cries that became louder and louder and then, unexpectedly, burst from the covert onto the field before them.The source of the fracas, now identified, was the Green Mountain Hounds in full cry, a tightly made pack of Foxhounds followed closely by field hunters and their riders. To Greg, this was a magical moment. He’d very suddenly been introduced to a world where he could belong: that of the hound, horse and hunter moving together as if one singular creature.Through the ensuing years, as anyone who’s been familiar with the AKC Sporting Group can attest, Greg’s particular chase has led him in a direction more unconventional than traditional. Today his family of Irish Water Spaniels provides the benchmark by which many have come to appreciate this rare and remarkable breed.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Providence, R.I. At the age of 11, my father moved our family to the Mad River Valley in Vermont where he joined his longtime friends in a construction business. We lived in the old Steinway house while our own house was being built, in an area known for its outdoor recreation and sweeping mountain views. 

Was yours a “doggie” family?

Ours was not a doggie family, per se, but my paternal grandmother had Doberman Pinschers. In our house there were six children, so our mother was not inclined to add a dog to the mix. Eventually, my persistence wore my mother down and, with my father’s support, a Beagle named Cindy and an English Springer Spaniel named Abby joined the family. I persuaded my parents to let me buy Melissa a Lhasa Apso for her birthday, largely so that I had something around the house with hair that I could groom. Our father told us that if we worked hard for what we wanted, we could have anything. His rationale has influenced my involvement in dogs, and with this fortitude I began to exhibit my Springer at local match shows, both locally and in Canada.   

Describe your first encounter with an Irish Water Spaniel.

Louie Hall was an AKC-licensed judge and breeder of English Cockers who lived in the same town as my family. We’d travel to dog shows together where I’d compete in Junior Showmanship with the Springer. I was 14 years old when we went to the Bennington County Kennel Club and I saw a tall, blonde woman walking over a knoll with an extraordinary pair of brown dogs.  She asked me if I wouldn’t mind assisting her and show one of the dogs as a “filler.” I agreed to her offer and proceeded to beat the lady with her own dog. That woman’s name was Marion Hopkins of Mallyree Irish Water Spaniels.

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