Page 267 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 267

  discovered the Bergamasco back in 1999 from a picture in a dog encyclopedia. I had been looking for a non shedding breed, since my dog at that time, though she had a wonderful personality, threw a coat twice a year. When she did, it was everywhere: on my toothbrush, on my plate, in my coffee. And all over my clothes. When I got
to the office in the morning, I looked like a human hairball.
So I was determined that the next one would not shed. I was thinking of some easy-to-manage
coat with hair, not fur, and a nice personality. I was leaning toward the Portuguese Water Dog when I saw the encyclopedia picture of a Bergamasco and I was hooked—I’ve always liked things that are different, and I had never seen such an interesting coat. It looked vaguely like dreadlocks, but the cords weren’t round, they were flat. The description said they had wool in the coat. What? I had to find out more.
I found Donna DeFalcis on the internet. She and her husband Stephen had brought over the first US Bergamascos from an experienced breeder in Italy, and the breeder was helping them establish the breed in the United States. Donna and I talked for over an hour on the phone and I knew I had found the right breed—intelligent, gentle, independent, but not stubborn, friendly, but not all over you. Basically they sounded like the same wonderful personality my Border Col- lie/Lab mix had, minus the coat-throwing part.
I had to wait six months, but it was worth it! Denali, as I named her (couldn’t think of an Italian name I liked, but I figured at least Denali ended in a vowel) turned out to be the best dog I ever had. She was sweet, gentle and kind. She loved everybody and everybody loved her.
I took her to puppy class, but I never had to train her after that because she trained herself. She’d see what I wanted her to do (or not do) and would act accordingly. I couldn’t believe it.
I started to realize that I didn’t think of her as a dog. With all my other dogs, when they would do something bad, or dumb, I’d think, “Well don’t get upset; they’re just a dog.” But I noticed after a while that I never thought that about Denali. She was never “just a dog”; she was my friend. I thought of her as my equal and she thought of me as her equal—it was funny. There was no master/dog relationship, there were just two beings, one hairy and one not, who were best friends. Equal intelligence, equal emotional sensibilities, equal abilities to detect “vibes” of people or places. It really was like having a best friend you are so attuned with that you don’t need to talk. You both just know what the other is thinking and feeling.
Denali was from the second litter born in the USA. When my Border Collie/Lab mix died two years later, Denali was bereft. She had kept Chloe company every day. Chloe at that point was 16 and couldn’t’ see very well and didn’t wander around much. She liked to just sit in a shady area of the lawn and enjoy the weather. Denali, even though she was a playful, energetic puppy, would sit with Chloe for hours, keeping her company, never leaving her side.
When Chloe went, Denali was very sad—she moped around the house, wondering where her friend had gone. I called Donna to ask about another puppy, and it turned out someone had given up a female from the third US litter because she was too rambunctious. What? This seemed hard to believe of a Bergamasco, since Denali was the very picture of calm.

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