Page 220 - ShowSight - April 2020
P. 220

1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs?
2. In popularity, The Spinone Italiano is currently ranked #109 out of 195 AKC-recognized breeds. Do you hope this will change or are you comfortable with his placement? Do these numbers help or hurt the breed?
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.
I live in Grants Pass, Oregon, recently relocated here from Car- son City, Nevada. I am the emer- gency manager for Jackson Coun- ty, Oregon.
Do I hope the breed’s popu- larity will change or am I com- fortable with the placement? I’m comfortable with the ranking. We have a small gene pool and I fear a rapid growth would come with additional health challenges, and a struggle to maintain the breed
standard. I also believe if more people lived with a Spinone, the rank would be much higher. It’s such a versatile breed. I have often said they are great at holding down my bed whenever I’m not home, ready to get in the field and hunt up the birds or lope on to the next adventure. As long as a Spinone is with you, they’re happy, and I’m happy.
Do these numbers help or hurt the breed? I think the breed is still fairly uncommon, and the popularity ranking doesn’t have any influence on the aspects which are most important—health, confor- mation, temperament.
Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? We used to place bets before we arrived somewhere public with the dogs. The first was how long and second how many—we were measuring until someone said Labradoodle, or “What’s that a cross with?” fol- lowed by, “Like the ice cream?” They are recognized slightly more frequently these days, but it’s still a little surprising when someone says Spinone, or even Ice Cream dog.
Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dis- pel? For years, I would be contacted because people were under the impression they’re hypoallergenic. They are not.
I think for years we needed to educate regarding the unique topline of the Spinone. It’s described as having “two segments”. The first slopes slightly downward in a nearly straight line from the withers to the eleventh thoracic vertebra. The second rises gradually and continues into a solid and slightly convex loin without rising above the withers. I call it “hinged, not a dip”.
They are not couch potatoes. While they are gentle and empa- thetic, and willing to curl up for a nap, if their energy is not given an appropriate outlet, they may resort to destructive or rambunc- tious behaviors. Spontaneously exploding dog beds are notoriously associated with the breed.
What special challenges do breeders face in our current eco- nomic and social climate? The Spinone Italiano has been bred as a hunting companion for centuries, and is one of the oldest breeds to be used as a gundog. But the breed is also low in numbers, which poses special challenges for breeding. I’ve found building interna- tional partnerships/friendships necessary. Importing semen or dogs is exceptionally expensive and complicated, sometimes with disap- pointing results. It’s so important to be mindful of health, tempera- ment, conformation, and maintaining natural hunting instinct. I think, as breeders, we have to continue to look forward, and work collaboratively, to preserve our breed.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? We evaluate the puppies at six and eight weeks of age for basic struc- ture and temperament test at seven weeks. Show dog, hunting dog, therapy dog, companion dog or all of the above are all on the list of characteristics we are observing.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Head planes and topline/underline are the hallmarks of the breed. Please do not judge them as a generic Sport- ing dog. The head is long and the skull is oval when viewed from above, with the occiput prominent, like the roof of a house when viewed from the side. The break at the 11th vertebrae is noticeable and the 30 degree croup is obvious. The underline should be of a piece, with no defined tuck-up. This picture needs to hold on the move as well as standing.
What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? You only have to meet one to see where they fit in your life. Their intelligent and gentle expression radiates from soft, sweet ‘human-like’ eyes. Patient, loving, and often playful with family, Spinoni are even-tempered, often comical and a little stubborn with a very sweet nature. Though they may be hesitant with new people, well-socialized Spinoni warm up quickly, and never forget a kind hug.
My ultimate goal for the breed? I have to go back to health, tem- perament and conformation—the three legs of a breeding program. I love to watch them come out of the field, clean off the burrs and go into the ring, collect a ribbon and stop at the local nursing home at the end of the day. They are willing to do it all.
My favorite dog show memory? My home bred bitch, Adele, GCH Collina d’Oro Adele by Royal Design, winning Best in Show. The first and only bitch in the breed to do so. Probably tied with her Best of Breed win and cut in the Group at Westminster Kennel Club and winning the Spinone Club of America’s inaugural Top 20 event.
While only in the breed for about 15 years, they have given me so much joy, and my dedication to preserving the breed, before, in and after the whelping box is what I strive to give back and share. Oh the first dog show (I can laugh now), first days in the field, raising and training the first Spinoni certified in

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