Woohoo! Just read this over again, and am amazed how far we have gotten. It IS possible to teach a reluctant dog to like water.
My swimming season is over for year as I am a wimp who hates cold water , but great progress this year. Just had 9 mo Annie at the lake. She will now wade in as far as her hips willingly with me, tail up and relatively happy and will jump out of the canoe into the lake near shore on command, play with her ball in the shallows, and she even swam after her ball a few steps one day!!! She will play on the rocks in the river and cross the river, and would rather put her feet in than figure out a dry route. This is huge progress from a dog that used to walk around puddles!
I do worry a bit still, as if she is startled or falls in, she forgets she knows how to swim and sinks. If she is prepared, she swims fine, if begrudgingly. I keep waiting for her to jump from the canoe to get to a lab that swims after us, but she hasn't been that brave yet, and i am not encouraging her to that milestone!
I have great hopes for next year when she is a bit older and wiser. Maybe next year I can have a true swimming buddy?