Russ, I apologize for coming across too strong. Being from north Louisiana and not dealing with oyster reefs or tides, my perspective is quite different. As far as gators, I did lose a dog to a gator one summer while training her in 3 feet of water on a beautiful day. she made about 3 retrieves, then a gator took her down and she was never seen again. Nothing could have saved her except her stupid handler (me) not having her there in the first place. As far as currents are concerned, I have had dogs in pretty bad currents, that ended up way down the river, but a life vest would not have helped them. I get tickled at my wife about cold exposure. She thinks dogs react like we do to cold water. If so, my wirehair would not go frolicking through skim ice, then sit in 4 inches of frozen water with his testicles in the water, when he could just as easily sit 3 feet closer to me and be completely dry. They just don't sense temperature like we do. I love Boykins. I think they are one of the smartest hunting breeds on the planet. You will have a blast with that dog.
The enemy of "GOOD" is "BETTER"