Page 272 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 272

1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs?
2. In popularity, the Bergamasco is currently ranked #187 out of 192 AKC-recognized breeds. Do you hope this will change or are you comfortable with his placement?
3. Does the average person on the street recognize him for what he is?
4. Are there any misconceptions about the breed you’d like to dispel?
5. What special challenges do breeders face in our current eco- nomic and social climate?
6. At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness (or lack thereof)?
7. What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind?
8. What’s the best way to attract newcomers to your breed and to the sport?
9. What is your ultimate goal for the breed?
10. What is your favorite dog show memory?
11. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed?
Please elaborate.
In June 1995, we became interested in the Bergamasco when we saw a picture of the Bergamasco in a Magazine from England. After we called the number in England, the breeder, Reyna Knight, referred us to a breeder in Italy, Maria Andreoli, founder the dell Albera linage. Before computers, Internet, email, due to language barriers, since Maria spoke very little
English, all correspondence was through faxing with Maria’s son, Riccardo. The First Bergamasco Fauno came to the USA in the summer of 1995. He was six months old. The Love Affair Began: Introduced the first Bergamasco Sheepdog to the USA. In the Sum- mer of 1996, we went to Italy to meet the breeder, Maria Andreoli, at the same time brought home our first female, Gae, to compliment Fauno, our male. First litter born in 1998, to become the first FSS litter registered in AKC; The Foundation of the dell Albera linage and the Bergamasco Sheepdog in the USA. The Beginnings: For ten years, studied in Italy with Maria Andreoli until her passing in 2005. Maria was one of the founding breeders who was responsible to help bring the Bergamasco back from extinction after the Sec- ond World War. Stephen and I started showing Fauno within rare breed organizations and fell quickly in love with the show arena. In 1996, Gae dell Albera joined the show arena along with Fauno and our three boys. The beginnings of Silver Pastori Bergamascos, 1996 to Present: Bred 28 litters, over 230 puppies, 11 Champions, and World Winner. Co-Author of the First Bergamasco Breed Book. Founder of the Bergamasco USA Club. President of the USA Club from 1995 to 2016. Chairperson of the Bergamasco Club. Respon- sible for AKC full Recognition in 2015. Breeder of Merit Award 2016. For me, breeding is not about change or improvement. It is
about maintaining what was. Every puppy that leaves my home takes within them a little piece of history.
I live in beautiful Bucks County, PA with my husband Stephen and nine Bergamascos. For the past 33 years, I have been teach- ing Special Ed for students with severe Multiple Disabilities in the Philadelphia School District. My classroom of eight students is my second home along with my Therapy Dogs, Whope and Voltu, who are a wonderful asset to my students.
The Bergamasco is currently ranked #187 out of 192 AKC-rec- ognized breeds. Do you hope this will change or are you comfort- able with his placement? Yes, we are comfortable with this. It is more important for us to maintain the style and characteristics of the original Bergamasco. The ranking is not simply the most liked. Rather, the ranking tracks the registry statistics on purebred dogs. Keep in mind the Bergamasco is a rare breed. We have worked dili- gently to preserve and promote the characteristics of the our breed. The numbers have very little, if any, affect on the Bergamasco in the USA. Prior to becoming AKC recognized, the breed was very successful in the rare breed shows throughout the USA. The Inter- net has made the breed more accessible for people who want more information and it provides a method to connect with breeders and Bergamasco owners.
Does the average person on the street recognize him for what he is? Absolutely not, the majority of the people are more curious being that they never saw a dog with dreadlocks. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the first comment is Rasta Dog! and “mop dog” “What is it?” “Can I feel the coat?” “Friendly” “Do they get hot?” “Must take forever to dry!” “How do you give it a bath?” Let’s not forget lots of smiles.
Are there any misconceptions about my breed? Appearance is the biggest misconceptions about the Bergamasco. People seeing a full-coated Bergamasco for the first time immediately think it is a very high maintenance breed with hours and hours of work just to wash, dry and maintain the coat. On the contrary, it is just the opposite. The adult coat requires very little maintenance. The coat is very natural and bathing should only be kept down to a minimum to not strip the natural oils from the coat that aid in the condition of the coat.
Special challenges do breeders face? Breeders should work together and not compete with each other or use their social media sites such as Facebook and their own personal websites to inadver- tently attack other breeders.
What age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? At week seven a breeder may have a glimpse of the puppy’s poten- tial. At his age most puppies seem to have a moment with equal growth (pretty proportional.) A little glimpse of angulation, pro- portionality, the teeth alignment just a precursor. The Bergamasco goes through a variety of developmental stages; the coat is continu- ally growing for the life of the dog and the bone muscle doesn’t fully develop until the age of two and three. Therefore, it makes judging the Bergamasco extremely complicated especially when being compared against a mature fully-coated adult who has years of ringside experience. Unfortunately, in this country puppies are being judged as an adult at six months old. In FCI countries, a Ber- gamasco cannot be champion worthy until the age of two. For me, this is absolutely correct for our breed! The Bergamasco Sheepdog Club is working on the standard to accommodate younger dogs, but also want to be careful not to have champions who will never reach the minimum standard requirements.

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