HERDING GROUP Q&A
first Bergamasco Sheepdog litter in 2007 in Nova Scotia, Canada. I lived here during my early years in dogs. Do I compete in conformation, companion or performance events? I compete in conformation and we also have dogs that are training for herding and agility trials. Our dogs have everything from farm dog to CGC to trick titles and some of our puppies have rally obedience titles. Is my breed still capable of performing its original func- tion? Yes, some are, though they haven’t been bred for work for a long time. I get super excited when I see a dog with really good natural abilities. Can I define the key essentials of “type” in my breed? It should be very clear when you look at a Bergamasco that it is not a Komon- dor or a Puli. They have a distinctive coat that does not look like either of those breeds. Also the silhouette of a Bergamasco should be obvious. The Bergamasco is unique in its nearly square or off- square length of body, with a 30 degree sloped croup and tail to the hock that rests in a hook at the level of the hock. It does not have the length of body of the Komondor or Beardie. The breed should have a rustic appearance, but not to be confused with unkempt or unsanitary. The differentiation between types of hair and location of its distribution on the body is also an essential of type, but this is something rarely seen outside of the country of origin these days. Am I pleased with my breed’s current overall quality and popu- larity? I think the breed’s overall quality can be improved. It’s not all bad, but over the years I have seen an increase in weak back- lines (sloping in the center), high rears, long loins, cow-hocked legs, lack of substance, muscling and condition. Due to this, I have seen poorly kept coats that are dirty, not well-maintained and I have seen a lack of progression toward trying to regain the correct distribution of coat as described in the standard. I am happy with it’s popularity at this time. How challenging has it been for exhibitors to find “majors?” It is challenging. The East Coast has the largest number of the Berga- mascos in the country, so most of the majors are here. It is very hard for the folks on the West Coast and Midwest to find majors. Even on the East Coast the majority of majors are in the New Jersey/ Pennsylvania area, so the numbers are very concentrated in these areas. Travel is a must for competing unless you live in these states. Is there a market for “pet quality” puppies in my breed? Yes. Most of the puppies in this breed go to pet homes. It is diffi- cult to find show homes and even more difficult to find working homes. Most of the folks looking for Bergamascos are families with children. Who were my mentors? I have had many mentors throughout the years. Some were Bergamasco breeders and many were experi- enced breeders of other breeds. Some have been farmers, handlers, herding instructors, etc. I try to take away what I can from various sources. The original mentors I had no longer supported me when our bitch became a top-winning Bergamasco and, eventually, a top- 40 Herding dog. I have turned to the original breeders in Italy who have been with this breed since the start and have the most knowl- edge. I think an important thing to pass along is that a breed is only as good as its mentors. If you are not willing to take an honest look at the breed in an unbiased way and celebrate the dogs that exem- plify quality and help those who want to learn in an honest way, then you should take another look at why you do this. What is it about my breed that has sustained my interest and encouraged my involvement in the sport? The desire to keep this breed going. I am always worried that this breed will fizzle out and never have new breeders who are dedicated to keeping the gene pool honest and healthy. By showing these dogs we gain some interest and some publicity. >
use it to make your own decision. It is most important that you are happy with what is in your backyard. What is it about my breed that has sustained my interest and encouraged my involvement in the sport? The Collie, in my totally biased opinion, is the most amazing breed. Their intelligence and beauty are unsurpassed in my eyes. It is the passion to share the breed with others and constantly strive to create my ideal Collie that keeps me sustained. After I had my first Collie, I cannot imagine life without one! JEANINE DELL’ORFANO I have been involved with
the Bergamasco Sheepdog since 2005. I fell in love with an image of a Bergamasco in a rare dog encyclopedia and lived on a farm in Nova Scotia, Canada, at the time with herds of goats and sheep. I imported Lothario, our first male from the USA and, one year later, imported a female, Mezza, from England.
Over the next several years, I learned all I could about the breed and became heavily involved in efforts made by the Bergamasco Sheepdog Club of America (BSCA) to promote the breed. On July 13, 2007 the first Bergamasco litter was born in Nova Scotia out of our Mezza and Lothario. I moved back to the U.S. shortly thereafter and worked with the BSCA to help gain breed recognition with the AKC. This would be a long process and, in the meanwhile, I attended shows and events and continued to create awareness. For the next several years I served as the BSCA Vice-President and was able, along with the help of my colleagues at BSCA, to gain full AKC recognition for the breed in 2015. I am the former President of the BSCA and have worked diligently to achieve parent club status with the AKC. Before I resigned my position as President, I helped to organize the club, draft the bylaws, partner with the CHIC registry and set health testing standards for the breed. I have been involved with the AKC Judge’s Education program since breed recognition, and continue to enjoy long- and short-term judge mentoring as well as ringside mentoring. In addition, my husband and I were the found- ers of the Bergamasco Companion, a quarterly publication of the BSCA, no longer in print. In 2018, I founded the Bergamasco Shepherd Association of Canada and am currently working on breed recognition with the Canadian Kennel Club. I am the current President of this asso- ciation. I am also a member in good standing of the Bergamasco National Sheepdog Alliance and Societa Amatori del Cane da Pas- tore Bergamasco (S.A.B.). I fully support these two organizations for their continued work to preserve this breed as it was intended. Over the last 15 years, we have bred 10 litters. We believe in quality over quantity and our current and future litters are carefully planned. We are active in AKC conformation events and herding. I am proud to be an AKC Bred with H.E.A.R.T. breeder. I live in Durham, Connecticut, where we raise Bergamasco Sheepdogs. Apart from dogs, we have horses, goats, chickens and I do freelance photography. I am a step-mom and a drummer. I play in a rock band for fun. How many years have I been involved in dogs and as a breeder? I have been involved in dogs since I was 23 years old when I moved to my first farm and it sparked an interest in herding dogs. I had my
160 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JULY 2020
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