Showsight - March 2022


but our stud, “Ussaro,” likes to raise puppies. He is in the whelping box from “day one” and will nurse puppies on his nipples. He gives the dam a break and will clean and evacuate puppies. He will some- times even regurgitate meals for them. He is a wonderful sire to not only his own puppies, but also to any that are born in our home. He is patient and loving, and he helps to raise our litters until the day they leave. He is instrumental in teaching them how to play, when to rest, and he gives them confidence in new situations. Our puppies gain so much from him. His desire to be such an important part of their upbringing is a primitive and beautiful thing to witness. Anything else I would like to share about myself? Any special message I have for all of us in the fancy? I would like to encourage those who are interested in our breed to do their research before committing to a puppy. The descriptions online are often histori- cally inaccurate and they can also make Bergamascos sound like unicorns. This breed is not for everyone, and I would encourage anyone who is considering a puppy to meet the breed in person first. Ask for proof of health-testing and learn all you can from different sources before committing to a Bergamasco. JULIE DESPOT

people. At eight weeks, I video their movement and watch it in slow motion. I also have other breeders and our handler come to evaluate them. I ask the opinion of other breeders whom I trust to know this breed. I use all of this information when deciding which puppy has good potential for a show home. At eight weeks, I also bring them up to our barn to see our horses, goats, and chickens from a safe area and to monitor their reactions. This is important for puppies that will be going to working homes and farms. I place puppies according to their structure, movement, and temperament, and I match them to their families depending on needs and lifestyles. How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation? Bergamasco puppies are very slow to mature, both physically and mentally. I like to enter them in 4-6 Month Beginner Puppy to get them acquainted with the show atmosphere. I like to get them used to road trips and walking on a lead. I shape their behaviors as tiny puppies so that I know how to get their focus and attention, and we go from there. We make it fun for them as puppies; like going to a show is the greatest thing ever. Is my breed hand-stacked or free-stacked in the show ring? Why is it presented in this manner? Either! There is no specific rule for how to stack them. Our handler, Amanda, likes to present our dogs both ways. Some Bergamascos do better one way or the other and some like to show off their free-stacks. Are Performance and Companion titles important to me as a breeder? Are parent club titles? Yes, to both. I like to get as many titles on our puppies as possible. I like to show off the versatility of our breed and the dogs we are producing. We try to get a CGC, FDC, and Herding Instinct Test on all of our dogs. We have a pup- py living in Maryland, CH Alp Angel’s Moppi CGC TKI HT RN, who is now the first herding-titled Bergamasco in AKC. Our breed can be very good at agility, and we are actively involved in agility with our younger dogs. Many of our puppies also have Rally Obedi- ence titles. The parent club does not offer any titles. In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern? Overall, yes, and I think it’s getting better. Our breed has had ongoing issues with hip dysplasia. It was so bad at one point that finding a passing dog was pretty rare. I think that some of the breeders who work together are making huge strides in the health of our dogs. The parent club rescinded the breed health statement at one point, but there is a group of us who continue to make health paramount. We are seeing more OFA-passing dogs now than ever before. The Breed Standard is currently being extensively revised, and this worries me. We have only been in AKC since 2015. An extensive revision hurts our small gene pool, in my opinion. Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed? For the most part, yes, most Berga- masco homes are families with children. I do like to warn families that they can be barky and are much more active than described online. They do require a lot of socialization and coat maintenance. I feel that the best candidates are those who are willing to under- stand the undertaking of raising a Herding breed and those who are willing to put in the time to train and work on the coats. Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders? I think there are a few breeders who are doing wonderful things for this breed. I feel lucky to be among a wonder- ful group of people who are always collaborating, learning, studying our pedigrees, health-testing our dogs, choosing breedings based on the past as well as the future, and making well-informed decisions about those breedings. We are such a small breed and Bergamas- cos are so rare. It is imperative to have these kinds of unbiased, informed, and critical conversations with each other; and there are a handful of us doing just that and also working with the original breeders in Italy, the country of origin. For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experi- enced with a Herding Dog? It doesn’t have much to do with herding,

Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breed- er? I live in the Pacific Northwest in Olympia, Washington. I have been in dogs for 26 years and have been breed- ing for 12 years. What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep? My kennel name, which I share with Karen Marquardt and Bobbi Broyles-Ryan, is Mtn. View Ranch Border Collies, usually shortened to MVR. We keep

between 8-10 dogs between the three of us. Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners? Our own dogs: “Spy,” because of what he has produced; “Coal” for his beautiful outline and movement; and “Sen” for her color and movement. These are my favorites of ours. Which have been my most influential sires and dams? Spy has been our most influential sire. We love his pedigree, what he pro- duces, and the temperaments that he produces. What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions? When selecting show puppies, the first thing I look at is fronts. For me, Border Collies need a good front and a good eye. The shoulder and arm are so important for movement and good, low carriage. Usually, by eight weeks, we know which ones we are keeping. How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation? I usually prepare puppies and adult dogs for the ring by walking them around my neighborhood. On Karen’s ranch, the dogs do not get the city experience; cars, kids, walking past other dogs, etc. I usually train the down and back and go-around as two different elements. Is my breed hand-stacked or free-stacked in the show ring? Why is it presented in this manner? The breed should be free-stacked, but that’s not feasible for every dog. What is represented by showing them free-stacked is showing off the famous biddability and trainability. Are Performance and Companion titles important to me as a breeder? Are parent club titles? Karen and I would rather place and sell to companion/performance homes; an MVR Border Collie that we want you to be able to do everything with. For us, this is very important as breeders. In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern? Stop. Trimming. Border Collies. In


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