Page 268 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 268

                Well, it turns out Bergamascos are not all the same! They all have the great quali- ties I described above, but some are more active and a little more independent-mind- ed. That was Emma. She reminded me of the tough girls in middle school who got into fistfights at recess. She was a wild one! But Denali loved her and she loved Denali. I think Denali calmed Emma down a little bit, while Emma encouraged Denali to be more adventurous.
And I was learning something—Berga- mascos are like crack cocaine: once you try them, you’re hooked. It wasn’t long before I had four—two boys and two girls. They got along well and we were a happy family.
Then one day, I got a sad call. A lovely woman who had a female from the first Bergamasco litter had a family emergency where she could not take care of her ani- mals, at least for a year or two. So she was looking for temporary homes for her two Bergamascos—a male named Nepo and a female named Custoda.
I agreed to take Custoda. She was a half- sister to Denali and they were both large, but very gentle. Unlike Emma, who was small and about as gentle as Rocky Balboa. I figured Custoda would feel at home with these fellow Bergamascos.
I drove to meet Custoda and her mom (whom I will call Sarah) at a rest area on the Mass Pike. She and I had become quite friendly at dog shows over the years. Back then it was a small group, and we were all quite close, sharing our passionate love for these wonderful, rare dogs. Dog shows were like pleasant family reunions for us. We brought food and spent the whole day, while the dogs played.
Sarah was waiting as I pulled in next to her. She and I both had pick-up trucks, and we took all kinds of things she was giving me to help—food, leashes, collars, ex-pens and a nice whelping box—out of the back of her truck and put them in mine. She had made a big pork roast and cut it into chunks for “Toady” as she called her to have for nibbles on the five hour drive to my house.
When it came time to part, my heart went up in my throat. Custoda was sitting in the passenger seat in my truck, and got upset as we started pulling out. She looked over at Sarah, as if to say, “Where are you going? Why are you leaving me?”
Sarah looked at Custoda with so much love, and so much pain, I started crying. I couldn’t imagine how much pain Sarah was going through—not only saying goodbye to Custoda, but not being able to explain why she had to, that it was for her own good. And that maybe they would be together again someday. She just had to look at Cus- toda, knowing Custoda was thinking she was abandoning her. It was the most heart- breaking look I’d ever seen.
Custoda had a very hard time adjust- ing to life at my house. She missed her mother so much. I would take all the dogs down to the shore and throw tennis balls for them. They loved chasing the balls, especially if they landed in the water. But Custoda would just sit and watch. She never joined in. She would stay close to me, prob- ably hoping I would take her back to her mother soon.
Up at the house, if we were outside, Cus- toda would run up the hill of the driveway, then turn around to me and bark, as if to say “Come on! Let’s go find my Mom!” I felt so bad and didn’t know what to do. Finally, I sat down and thought, these dogs are like humans—so intelligent and emotionally sensitive—what would a human kid need if she was separated from her mother?
And the answer was: Lots of Love. So from then on, I hugged Custoda dozens of times a day, always whispering comforting words. “Your Mommy loves you. And I love you. Everything will be ok.” She slept right next to me in the bed. I made sure to take

   266   267   268   269   270