Page 277 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 277

                            most people have less and less understanding of, contact with, and opportunity to learn from being among animals in general, and in carrying forward many of the traditional environments and roles that dog breeds, for instance, have played and were carefully bred to fulfill. This translates into a lack of awareness and grasp of the enormity of how much we as humans can learn from animals, and dogs in particular, and a profound loss of the amazing history and background of our dog breeds. The second challenge becomes one of dispelling and countering the public image of preserving and caring for any purebred dog, let alone a rare breed that has been in danger of becoming extinct, as numbers and interest dwindle and fashions change. What is the purpose of maintaining breed integ- rity, in a society where most people now believe rescuing a mixed breed animal from a shelter is the noblest deed and a careful, consci- entious, dedicated and intelligent breeder is equated with a puppy mill operation? I feel that I play a role in rescuing and preserving an entire breed, the Bergamasco, and that word must get out that this is a valuable and worthwhile and noble deed, too—that our pure- bred dogs deserve our society’s respect, preservation and continua- tion for their long histories and their distinct and close partnerships with mankind. I believe there is a place of dignity at the table for both the shelter rescue mindset and for the passionate fanciers of purebred dogs.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I always feel that I am blessed with the honor of bringing these per- fect little beings into the world, to have a formative hand in their development and in finding their life’s role—of course I notice good qualities almost from birth, but it’s a realization, as I watch them grow and develop (temperament, structure, soundness, etc.) of the imperfections that creep in, that help separate a top conformation dog prospect from a future loving pet. I truly believe that being a cherished family member and bringing joy to others is the highest position any dog can ever have, more than any show ring successes and fond memories I have had, more than awards and medals.
The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Good, broad head, topline, tail set, structure, and fluid movement. Five things!
I have always loved animals. Growing up we had vari- ous dogs and many different kinds of birds from finches to macaws. My favorite child- hood dog was a Bearded Col- lie. In the 90s I was attending college in Florida and found the Bergamasco in a dog breed book. I fell in love, but was not planning on having a dog while living in Florida. My husband and I returned to our home state of Indiana.
In 2011, we decided the time was right to get a dog. I did a little research, but I already knew which breed I really wanted. My hus- band had always had hunting dogs so he was a little unsure. We drove seven hours to just meet our first Bergamasco in person. A few weeks later we returned for our girl, Fina. The next year we imported Argo from a well-respected kennel in Italy. My husband has developed a deep bond with Argo and the rest of our flock. We now have two cats and five Bergamascos that make up our family.
I live in western Maryland. This area is rich in natural recre- ational resources, parks, woodlands and mountains. My dogs are a part of everyday life including working in the yard, hiking, and exploring. Besides working as Case Analyst, my life is devoted to the dogs.
Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfort- able with the placement? I would like to see more interest in the breed, however, I don’t think becoming a popular breed is a benefit. If popularity occurs too quickly, it can be harmful. They are not a breed for everyone and require more time as a family member.
Do these numbers help or hurt the breed? Extremely low breed numbers do not help the breed. Fewer individuals can make it dif- ficult to find worthy breeding partners. If there are few individuals geographically then fewer people get to know the breed.
Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? No, most people do not have any idea what the breed is. I find lately there are a few more people that are identifying the breed as recog- nition increases. Occasionally, people will guess Puli or Komondor due to the similar appearance of the coat.
Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dis- pel? Bergamascos can get wet and be washed as frequently as one would like. It does not harm the coat. Some people fear there is a ton of grooming involved and others think there is no grooming. Brushing is not required every day like some long haired breeds, but there is brushing and grooming involved to keep the hair clean and sanitary.
What special challenges do breeders face in our current eco- nomic and social climate? Pro-rescue and negative attitude towards breeders raises challenges for breeders that are trying to do every- thing right to raise well-adjusted puppies bred for a purpose. Breed- ers also have to compete with the designer breeds.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I look at my puppies at eight weeks to determine which may have future show-worthiness. Some individuals go through the puppy stage nice and evenly, but many individuals do not really mature and start to shine until they are around two to three years old.
The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Structure and balance are very important for func- tion of the breed. One must get underneath the coat.
The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? I am always happy to talk to anyone about the breed. I have attend- ed Meet The Breed events. I try to enter large events that draw public attendance. I encourage people to attend breed gatherings. I love to encourage juniors.
My goals for the breed are to provide strong, healthy puppies from health-tested parents with great temperaments, that can per- form the job they were bred for originally, and will go on to con- tribute to the gene pool. I am very selective in my breeding choices taking careful consideration of pedigrees, temperament, health, and breed traits. I hope to bring the joy and love that I have for the breed to new families.
My favorite dog show memory? IKC benched show in Chi- cago. It was a wonderful venue. My nieces participated in Junior Showmanship. All of us had a great time introducing the breed to the public.
Bergamascos are independent thinkers and have learned to prob- lem solve. They also like to be engaged or a have job. Bergamascos are very agile and athletic as they worked in the rugged Alps. The breed is very intelligent and my husband offers them deeper con- sideration and thought in training versus the bird dogs that he has trained in the past.

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