Spinone breed aficionados hold show in Lebanon

By Sarah Brown

Lebanon Local

A breed of Italian hunting dogs arrived in Lebanon to show off its best traits, and a club was ready to judge the field based on appearance, personality and hunting skills.

A spinone named Ragu holds still for a photo.

About 90 entrants were featured in the Spinone Club of America’s “Nuts Over Spinone” National Specialty Dog Show May 16 through 22 at the Boulder Falls Inn Event Center, 605 Mullins Drive, and surrounding areas. Dogs and handlers participated in rally and obedience trials, hunt and water tests, workshops and seminars, a costume contest and more.

According to the SCOA’s website (spinoneclubofamerica.com), the Spinone Italiano breed’s ancestors originated in ancient Italy, where they were considered reliable hunters in difficult mountain and marshland terrain and could hunt by air-scenting, ground-tracking and pointing. The American Kennel Club defines the breed standard as muscular and robust, with a thick skin and harsh single coat.

“They are one of the few sporting breeds developed by peasants to put food on the table rather than competitive sport hunting,” event co-chair Sue Acquistapace said.

However, they’re also quite charming, with temperaments described as sociable, affectionate, patient and cooperative.

“They are a docile and sweet breed with an expression that is very human (which is) a very important part of the breed type,” Acquistapace said. “They are clown-like in nature and very versatile, being able to do everything from hunting to agility to therapy work.”

The event attracted a few participants from the other side of the world, including Nadia Guerrini, who flew in from Italy to judge the top 20 dogs and give a presentation on the breed.

Judge Marsha Henkel, right, takes a closer look at one of the contestants.

Guerrini said her favorite quality of the breed is their temperament. Acquistapace would agree, saying she loves Spinoni for their intuitive and sweet and loving nature, and has seven of her own to enjoy.

“Like the Lay’s potato chips of yore, you can’t have just one,” Acquistapace said.

A drive through Oregon a couple years ago inspired Acquistapace and fellow event co-chair Rebecca Van Ess to consider the area for the annual SCOA National Specialty.

“We loved the Oregon countryside and thought it would be a beautiful area to hold a National,” Van Ess said.

Eyeing the potential treat in a handler’s hand, a dog follows a light jog around the room.

Although Lebanon has no known Spinone breeders or handlers, SCOA chose the city for this year’s event because Boulder Falls Inn could accommodate its needs and welcomed the show, and nearby facilities provided good hunt test locations, according to Van Ess and Acquistapace.

Founded in 1987, the SCOA is the AKC Parent Club for the Spinone Italiano breed. About 500 members and five regional clubs across the United States participate in dog shows, field trials, hunt and tracking tests, obedience and agility tests, and therapy work.

The public was welcome to observe the show. Registration for participation is closed. For more information, visit the SCOA website or specialty.spinoneclubofamerica.com/Schedule.

*Updated to reflect the show had already taken place.