GL American Water Spaniel Club logoLast updated on: March 6, 2018

Training hunting spaniels since 1993

an AKC licensed club     

A Brief History of the Great Lakes AWSC


Upland retrieveThe Great Lakes AWSC (Great Lakes AWSC) is a regional organization that was incorporated in the State of Michigan in August of 1993 as the American Water Spaniel Field Association of America. Later the name was change to simply the American Water Spaniel Field Association. In 2012, after affiliating with the American Kennel Club (AKC) its name changed yet again. Despite all of the name changes, the club's principal interest is to provide needed field training opportunities for the American Water Spaniel and other spaniel breeds. The Great Lakes AWSC was very involved in the efforts to allow the AWS to particiapte in AKC field events without the restrictions imposed by the AKC parent club. That dream of full participation in AKC Hunt Test programs was just realized in recent years and we believe that many of our members – who are also members of the breed’s parent club – were responsible in helping this come to fruition.

The Great Lakes AWSC serves as the only American Water Spaniel (AWS) training club found within the Great Lakes region. While we have members located throughout North America, our members and activities are essentially found in the Great Lakes states where about 60% of our membership resides. We consistently average 50 to 60 members and members customarily travel from one to five hours to attend our training sessions.

Great Lakes AWSC routinely offers training days to AWS enthusiasts - both member and non-member - as well as other spaniel breed enthusiasts looking to improve upon their dog's working abilities. Training sessions are held once a month beginning in March and continuing through August or September, depending upon the year. Other breeds that have and do participate in our training sessions include, English Cocker Spaniels, Clumber Spaniels, Irish Water Spaniels, Welsh Springer Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, and Boykin Spaniels. Training activities have been held in New York (Buffalo/Rochester), Ohio (Columbus), Michigan (Howell, Lapeer, Highland, Beaverton, Chelsea, Ionia), Indiana (Fort Wayne) and Wisconsin (Sheboygan).

In the late 1990s, with the efforts toward AKC classification as a flushing spaniel held in check and some members asking for more opportunities, the Great Lakes AWSC decided to test the waters of the United Kennel Club. It became a Michigan UKC club, however, it was soon realized that the majority of the membership had little interest in expanding into UKC dog events and the Great Lakes AWSC quickly dropped its UKC affiliation returning to an independent organization.

With its key focus being the field training of AWS and other spaniels the Great Lakes AWSC has worked to aid the spaniel community as a whole by occasionally sponsoring field training seminars by noted trainers. Over the years it has held two training seminars by James Spencer from Kansas and one by Ray Cacchio from New York. In 2012, in an effort to expand its services, the Great Lakes AWSC applied for and obtained approval to hold licensed AKC Spaniel Hunt Tests. The club held its first licensed AKC Spaniel Hunt Test the weekend of April 27th and 28th, 2013 at Colonial Farms Gamebird Preserve in Chelsea, MI. Its plans are to hold at least one test per year in Michigan or another of the Great Lakes states.

The club holds an Annual Meeting in conjunction with a training session June of each year. One of the benefits provided to our members is our newsletter which has been met with great appreciation and is sent to members three times each year. This publication contains information on field and obedience training, activities coming up both inside and outside of the club, health information, general canine care and stories of member successes. Persons wishing to join the Great Lakes AWSC and not living within our immediate area of influence may join the club as "Newsletter" members; meaning they get all privileges of membership, including the newsletter, except for voting rights. 

Water trainingThe core of the Great Lakes AWSC is, as it always has been, a high level of interest in field training, hunting, and field-testing the AWS. If you are interested in joining the Great Lakes AWSC send in a Membership Application and we will get you signed up right away.

Guests are welcome to attend one training event without having to join the organization, after that we require membership. Pups are welcomed from the age of eight weeks on but the more obedience training the pup has had the easier it will be to work with it in the field. For a list of our events please visit the Upcoming Events page.