HERDING GROUP BREEDERS Q&A
Anything else I would like to share about myself? I have been involved with Belgians since 1987 and have been an owner-handler, but also a very dedicated professional handler. Team BlackFyre Han- dling allows me to be a breeder/owner-handler and also a profes- sional handler for those who can’t show their own dogs for whatever reason OR serving as a coaching/mentorship service for those who CAN show their own dogs and just need a bit more support. I’ve been honored to have dogs from my program that have worked suc- cessfully as ranch dogs, SAR dogs, Service Dogs, and Therapy Dogs. Any special message I have for all of us in the fancy? Be the person your dog thinks you are. Try to smile as much as possible at shows, and help people just because everyone can use a friendly, helpful hand to make their day better. In return, you’ll start to find yours is too. JEANINE DELL’ORFANO Where do I live? How many
the house from day one. Puppies are raised in my home and are brought up with a lot of the Avidog program principles, although I have been doing it long before Avidog became synonymous with early stimulation and training. As a Herding breed, Belgians are naturally, acutely aware of their environment and are thinkers and problem-solvers. So, as a breeder, my job in raising puppies is to make sure they have a solid foundation that builds confident indi- viduals before they depart to their new homes. What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions? I start watching puppies from birth forward, looking for those puppies that stand out structurally and still have correct type, and also the right attitude. You can be the most stun- ning prospect, but if you are not comfortable with a lot of chaos, you won’t enjoy being a show dog. I make my decisions at 10 weeks. How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation? Puppies come and just “hang out” at dog shows from a young age, to get them used to the crazy envi- ronment of a dog show. I work on stacking at home in the kitchen at meal time, and also condition them to stand and wag their tails for treats. All breeds need a solid foundation of trust in their human, but Herding breeds definitely need to have the focus game and trust in their human that they don’t have to control the environment 24/7 to settle and enjoy showing. Is my breed hand-stacked or free-stacked in the show ring? We like to say Belgians should be a natural breed, without excessive posing. So we primarily free-stack, but you definitely want to train them to accept hand-stacking because, if nothing else, it helps get- ting a great photo when you win! Why is it presented in this man- ner? The parent club did not want judges to expect a more exagger- ated stance like you see in some breeds. Are Performance and Companion titles important to me as a breeder? Are parent club titles? All titles are awesome, but as a breeder, I honestly do not use titles as my focus for breeding deci- sions. Having a dog that is capable of having the correct instinct and biddability to do performance and companion events and compete in conformation is important to me. Our parent club only offers Breeder Achievement Titles and these are an honor for that dog to be awarded. But again, they don’t tend to come into my decision- making process. In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern? I would say that compared to some of the other breeds I’m involved in, we are in decent shape. Like so many breeds, we are seeing too much exaggeration and a lack of strong structure. Stomach cancer is a rising issue in Belgians and something that we need to be very careful about. Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed? The Belgian Tervuren CAN be super as a family dog, if the dog is well-matched to the family. Belgians are highly devoted to their humans, but they are a Herding Dog with the Herding Dog tendencies of trying to keep the flock under control. So to be successful in a family, you need adults who under- stand that both dogs and children need to be trained in how to respect one another. People who enjoy doing EVERYTHING with their dog and want a very “thinking” breed are the best candidates to own a Belgian. They are not happy to be tossed in the backyard and ignored for hours and days on end. Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders? Currently, yes, I do. For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever expe- rienced with a Herding Dog? Hmmm... there are so many times when they keep me laughing. Probably the most recent was when my current specials dog, “Coaster,” (Multiple Group-Placing GCHB BlackFyre Absolutely Wyld ATT CGA) decided he was tired of Roger working, and ran into his office and grabbed the back of his office chair and started dragging it. Not sure if Roger was as amused since he was on a conference call, but I was cracking up.
years in dogs? How many years as a breeder? I live in Connecticut and have been involved with my breed, the Bergamasco Sheepdog, since 2005. I have been breeding Berga- mascos for 16 years. Throughout those years, I have served as the former parent club President and I am currently the Founder and Pres-
ident of the Bergamasco Shepherd Association of Canada. I am an AKC Breeder of Merit and I am an Open Show judge, in the process of pursuing breed judging. What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep? We are Alp Angel Bergamascos and we have six Bergamascos that live in the house with us. They are a wonderful group of dogs that showcases different generations of our breedings. Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy win- ners? GCHS Alp Angel’s Faggia Dell’Albera CGC FDC has been our top-winning Bergamasco. She is the top-winning Bergamasco of all time and has been a Top 40 Herding Dog, is a multiple Group Winner, and has had around 50 Group Placements. She remained #1 in her breed for almost all of her five-year campaign, which was cut short due to COVID. She has won BOB at Westminster Kennel Club three times now. She accomplished all of this over her cam- paign while also taking time off for three litters. She was handled by Amanda Shea throughout it all. Which have been my most influential sires and dams? Obviously, “Faggia” has been our most influential dam and has produced really versatile offspring that are excelling and are titled in various dog sports, conformation, and herding. CH Ussaro Polskie Kudlacze FDC is our only breeding male. He was imported from Roza Pali- maka in Poland. He has consistently produced puppies with great temperaments, good coats, athletic ability, and good OFA scores. Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised? Our home is our facility. We do not have a kennel, as we keep our breeding program small. We whelp our puppies in our bedroom where they remain under our watch, but with mom, for the first three weeks because Bergamasco coats can smother infant puppies. We then move them to their “upgrad- ed” space, which is full of enrichments, litter boxes, and crates. They get used to all of this early on and, weather permitting, they experience the outdoors and grass at four weeks old. We make sure that they get plenty of outdoor time daily and we raise our puppies using the Puppy Culture method during their time with us. What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions? I stack our puppies at four weeks, six weeks, and eight weeks. I take videos and photos to compare their develop- ment. I monitor their behaviors and reactions to new things and new
198 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MARCH 2022
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