Page 21 - ShowSight Presents - The Lagotto Romagnolo
P. 21

                This past October my friend, Laurin Howard, and I (both members of the LRCA’s judg- es education committee as
well as the breed revision committee) had the opportunity to make a memo- rable trip to Italy, in order to clarify our thinking on the standard, and it was an historic time to do so. This past Octo- ber marked the 30th anniversary show for the Club Italiano Lagotto (CIL). One of the most interesting things about our ancient breed is how modern their his- tory is. In the 1970s, a group of dog fan- ciers, led by Quintino Toschi decided that something must be done to save the breed which had been bred solely for their ability to hunt truffles in the Italian hillside. The breed had been kept alive, but not necessarily “pure” by truffle hunters providing income for their families by hunting the valuable white and black truffles.
Joined by another Lagotto enthusi- ast, Kathy Hollinger, we decided to try to talk to as many Italian experts about the breed and about the breed standard as we could. We realized too, that for many of those original founders of the breed—some now in their 80s—that this might be the last chance we would have to answer questions, and clarify what we thought we knew. In all we attended two FCI shows (one which included a Lagotto specialty) on the first weekend and visited six kennels during the week, and then visited with many more breeders at the 30th Anniversary Show itself. One thing that became clear, was that all the founders believed that a true Lagotto must be worked, and worked on truffle finding.
One of our first visits was to the home of Mario and Piera Morara. The Moraras—now in their 80s are probably the most fit couple you’ll ever meet, lending credence to the idea that truf- fles are a magical fungus that imparts health and well being! We spent the
morning seeing pictures and learning about their original dogs. “Arno” a beau- tiful white male whose photo hung in their living room, would be competitive in any show ring today. I had the chance to ask Sr. Morara what the most impor- tant characteristics of a working dog were. This was his priority list:
1) Strong.
2) Endurance—could work a long time. 3) Focused, not distracted.
4) Quick and methodical, but not fast.
When picking a Lagotto puppy, Sr. Morara was quick to point out that the most important feature was Character, followed by work ethic/potential, then intelligence and the physical presence of a large nose. He went on to say that the morphology of the head with cor- rectly placed and sized eyes was of much importance, as were a pedigree that suggested intelligence and the potential to be a good worker. Laurin was able to show him our new Judges Education brochure and get his take on the accuracy of our drawings.
Our next visits were to Fabrizio Cairo (Monte della Dea Kennel) and Luca Rondinini (de Campo Leone Ken- nel) Both men have been breeding dogs that excel in the breed ring and in the woods for years. And both cooked up a a myriad of tasty courses featuring truf- fles! Did I mention we ate a lot of good food on this trip?!
Monte Della Dea Kennel is located high on a hillside during the summer months. There is an “infected” orchard of olive trees that will hopefully yield its first harvest of truffles in the coming years. Cairo is a full time “first respond- er,” not truffle hunter but truffle hunt- ing is something that is given a high pri- ority on days off! Most impressive here were the older dogs. To my surprise I was able to meet the grandfather of my foundation bitch, still going strong and looking good at 14 years of age.

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