LIVING WITH SPINONI
their Spinoni. Many Spinoni, sporting a conformation title, also have a hunting title on the other end of their name. And for many, there is no greater joy than see- ing their owner get out the shotgun! Prob- ably more Spinone owners hunt or train for hunting with their dogs than any other activity, and with good reason. The Spino- ne today is as good a hunting companion as it was in the past, unlike some Sport- ing breeds. Many breeders emphasize that their dogs have both brains and beauty, and want to keep it this way. While Spi- none make great companion dogs, they really excel in the field. Originally reg- istered with NAVHDA (North Ameri- can Versatile Hunting Dog Association) before acceptance by AKC, many are still NAVHDA registered, and many owners today participate in both NAVHDA and AKC events. Joe Masar, who has been active in NAVHDA for over 16 years and who has owned, trained and/or handled close to thirty Spinoni reports: “Spinoni can be a family member as well as a very valuable hunting team mem- ber. They bond in a unique way with their handlers and hunt as a team and not just for themselves. They are versatile in point- ing, retrieving, and swimming. So wheth- er it be upland, waterfowl or fur, they can do it and do it well. They can be slow to mature compared to some, but the wait is worth it. They have stubborn streaks, like questioning why they have to do it more than once; since you threw it, you go get it! They are very sensitive, and therefore, methods used on other breeds will ruin a Spinone when incorrectly applied. If you want a dog that hunts in this county and not two counties away, you will find them to be a perfect companion.” Joe pretty much sums up the Spinone temperament; gentle, sweet, comical, bid- dable, but with a little bit of a mind of their own. This is a dog that will appeal to many, as long as the beard (which gath- ers water, food, and any number of other substances) is not considered an issue. Spinone households typically have several “beard towels” stashed in various places. I always tell people that if you are a “neat freak” this is not the breed for you. (And I know, because I used to be one!) But for me, and for many other owners, a little spittle on the walls and muddy footprints on the floor are worth it in order to share your home with this wonderful, unique, and versatile breed!
“SPINONI CAN BE A FAMILY MEMBER AS WELL AS A VERY VALUABLE HUNTING TEAM MEMBER. THEY BOND IN A UNIQUE WAY WITH THEIR HANDLERS AND HUNT AS A TEAM AND NOT JUST FOR THEMSELVES. THEY ARE VERSATILE IN POINTING, RETRIEVING, AND SWIMMING. SO WHETHER IT BE UPLAND, WATERFOWL OR FUR, THEY CAN DO IT AND DO IT WELL.”
Care Unit. At the VA hospital, depressed patients sometimes won’t talk with staff about personal matters, but will open up to a therapy dog, giving the therapist some idea of what’s going on in their lives. In one case, the patient missed his puppy at home. Who knew, until Denali walked in the door? It was a simple matter to arrange for a family member to bring the puppy to the hospital. Two other standouts in the Therapy world are Chris and Lauren Sweetwood’s dogs, “Siena,” Castellana DiMorghengo MH CDX RAE THDD JHR CGCA (TDIG TWT) and “Drago,” (CH Drago Castellano of Trollbo MH CD RE THDD JHR CGCA (TDIGOLD, TWT,) TT, 2013 AKC Award of Canine Excellence— Therapy. Both dogs are handled by Lauren Sweetwood, and both have assisted in pro- grams at assisted living facilities, nursing homes, schools, and disaster relief situa- tions. Siena received the TDI Gold Award for over 500 therapy visits, and currently participates in the Tail Waggin’ Tutors Program at local schools where Chris and Lauren live. Drago spent many hours comforting victims and families after the Sandy Hook school shootings. He was the second Spinone to achieve the highest TDI title (TDIG). He also regularly visits assisted living facilities and nursing homes, and has over 1000 therapy dog visits to his credit! Clearly, Spinoni are well cut out for Therapy Dog work. With their many titles and achievements, Chris and Lauren’s Spi- noni are the definition of “versatile!” Hunting and hunt training is what the breed was used for traditionally, and many owners still pursue these activities with
“Sofia,” PACH4 Hopecreek Maggio- ranza Fisica Sofia UD BN GN GO RE MXP11 MXPC MJP11 MJPC PAX5 OFP has also excelled in Agility. Her handler suggests keeping training sessions short and fun. Having trained other Agil- ity dogs, she says that when she got Sofia, the beauty was in not knowing what to expect from her as a breed. Since Sofia also excels in Agility, Obedience, and Rally, it’s obvious that a lot could easily be expected of her! A number of Spinoni are being used in Therapy work, from working with kids in reading programs and visiting hospitals and assisted living facilities, to offering comfort after disasters such as the school shootings in Sandy Hook. Although there are many that could be mentioned, three that stand out are profiled here: “Denali,” is a 10-year-old Spinone owned by Bob and Jane Landis. As Bob states, “Therapy dogs must be curious, willing to engage a patient sitting in a wheelchair or in a hospital bed; they must roll with the unexpected, learning to accept a pat out of nowhere from a gush- ing stranger in a hospital hallway as well. Therapy dogs must stay the course, set- tling in while you and the patient “chat dog” because there’s no one who doesn’t remember every dog they’ve ever owned. The Italian Spinone loves to be the center of attention. Denali loves to “hold court” and, if someone kneels down to his level, he’ll sit and extend one paw in what can only be described as a ‘Papal’ blessing.” Denali works at both the New York Meth- odist Hospital’s Physical Rehabilitation Unit and the Brooklyn VA’s Palliative
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