Page 222 - ShowSight - April 2020
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                Disaster Stress Relief Therapy, and considering so many of the pup- pies’ new families part of my family. Spinoni spread joy exponen- tially. Lives with Tizzy (13), Ivy (11), Mara (eight), Adele (six) and Marco Solo (nine months).
I’ve had dogs since I was about five years old. As a child they were my best friends. I met an obedience trainer when I was 17 years old, in 1969. Although I never competed in AKC obedience, I was active in obedience training for many years after that, training my own dogs and teaching classes.
While raising my children, we had a variety of companion dogs from Basenjis to Great Pyrenees. I hunted with two wonderful Springer Spaniels and entered a few fun matches during those years.
It wasn’t until I got my first Mastiff in 1997 that I began show- ing in AKC conformation events. This then became my passion. Initially, I concentrated on Mastiffs and began breeding and show- ing my home-bred dogs. I may have bred my last Mastiff litter, and my youngest is now going on three years old.
Starting in 2001, I added Spinoni Italiani to the family and found them to be wonderful companions that go well with Mas- tiffs. I’ve owned and/or raised and trained countless breeds and have a good understanding of dogs in general. Some of the unusual breeds that have been part of my life are the Dogo Argentino and the Otterhound. Although I lean toward the Working breeds, I love them all. In recent years, we’ve added two small dogs to the house- hold—a Schipperke and a Shetland Sheepdog and, most recently, our first Terrier, a Bull Terrier. I live in a rural area of Texas on ten mostly wooded acres.
Having started this adventure a bit late in my life, I decided that judging would be a way to continue to contribute to the sport even after I might no longer be able to show my own dogs. So, although I was and still am showing, I started judging in 2011. I loved seeing the sport from inside the ring and from the judge’s perspective. I assure you that things do look a little different from there! You are up close and can put your hands on so many amazing dogs. I appre- ciate professional handlers and their expert presentation, but I also love owner-handlers and amateurs. I think judging and exhibiting should be fun and a positive experience for all. Sure, judges are out there to do a serious evaluation of breeding stock, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun doing it.
I retired from my “real” job as an analyst for a natural gas pipe- line company in 2005 after being diagnosed with a major recur- rence of the same cancer I was diagnosed with at the age of 17. Though I was not expected to survive, I did. I also survived a second type of cancer in 2011. In 2019, I retired from judging to work part- time from home for Foy Trent Dog Shows doing production work.
I’m not sure what my next dog-related adventure will be. My young Mastiff and I have dabbled in Agility, CAT and Tracking. I find the Spinone Italiano to be versatile in more ways than hunting related and hope to try Tracking with one soon. And the Bull Ter- rier, well, she just makes me laugh! If I can ever get her to go around the conformation ring with all four feet on the ground and stand still for an exam, that may be my greatest accomplishment yet!
Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfort- able with the placement? I don’t pay much attention to popularity numbers. I think it is inevitable that the popularity of the Spinone Italiano will increase as more people become aware of them and meet them. It will be up to the breeders to ensure that all breeders remain very conscientious about maintaining the breed as a natural hunter as well as a great family companion.
I think increased popularity could have the potential to hurt the breed if breeders do not remain vigilant and continue to educate
themselves, owners and potential owners about the breed, its natu- ral abilities, the breed standard, and ethics for reputable breeders.
Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? Aver- age person? Probably not. But more and more dog lovers who are knowledgeable about purebred dogs seem to be recognizing these dogs when they come across them hunting or taking their owners for walks around the block.
Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? They do shed! And despite rumors to the contrary, to the best of my knowledge they are not hypoallergenic.
What special challenges do breeders face in our current econom- ic and social climate? Since I’m answering these questions at the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, I think we, as all breeders and humans in general, are facing many challenges. Will our veteri- narians be there to care for our dogs and puppies? Will our puppy buyers stay healthy and be able to properly socialize a new puppy? Will we stay healthy to care for our dogs and litters? Will dog food and other supplies be readily available? For now, I think the best we can do is wait and watch.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? There are some things I notice practically from birth and by the time I do my official evaluation at eight weeks, I already have my eye on a pup or two as potential show prospects. There are some characteristics that can be seen quite early that will most likely eliminate certain individuals from my breeding program such as excessive or incorrect coat or lack of bone and substance.
The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? The Spinone Italiano has some unique characteris- tics that all judges should keep in mind and which I’m sure most are familiar with such as divergent head planes with a one-to-one ratio of muzzle to back skull and a segmented topline that is not the board straight, typical topline of so many other breeds. But I think the most important thing to remember is that the Spinone Italiano is a robust, substantial dog with strong, powerful bone and a head that may seem longer than expected for the size of the dog. I am seeing far too many dogs with little substance and small heads with short muzzles.
The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? I believe we need to embrace newcomers and be willing to spend time educating and mentoring them, not just until they get their first puppy, but forever!
My ultimate goal is to see this amazing breed retain its incred- ible natural hunting ability while we work to produce healthy, sound, happy dogs that conform to the breed standard in every way.
My favorite dog show memory? That’s easy. It’s February 13, 2007, when my pick puppy from my first Spinone Italiano litter, GCH CH QuietWood Tiramisu, turned three years old and won Best of Breed at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show!
I believe these dogs are one of the most kind, loving, hard- working and versatile dogs in existence. I’ve known them to do everything from hunting with falcons to serving as the best babysit- ters. Like every breed, they are not for everyone. They are big, they have beards that get wet and dirty, and they certainly do shed, even though they have a single coat. They have a strong chase instinct yet get along great with other family pets and livestock. It’s very hard to have just one!
I live in Seattle, Washington. Outside of dogs, I work with dressage horse imports, but I am semi-retired. I am also a retired therapist.
Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfort- able with the placement? I am comfortable with these numbers, but I would not like to see a decline. It is a rare breed, and what

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