Stella del Nord: Italian for “Star of the North”. A brilliant star, an anchor in the northern sky, helping sailors and travelers for thousands of years determine their direction, its bright glow their guide towards a purposeful destination. As such, the Star of the North has also become a symbol for inspiration and a beacon of hope for many. I felt like one of those lost travelers, sitting at my computer early one morning, missing Enzo so badly, feeling alone, sad beyond words. Then, slowly… my leaden fingers typed out “Spinone Italiano breeders….” and Google finished my sentence with “near me.” That nearly brought a smile to my face. Spinoni aren’t common in these parts. I hit ‘enter’.
Kismet. The only possible explanation. Because: A- I needed a Spinone in my life, now. But the wait list is typically a year, often longer. B- I required a male as Aoife will always be Queen Bee. C- An orange roan, or an orange and white was essential. A brown roan would cut too close to my Enzo-bruised-heart. And finally, it was necessary for me to find an ethical breeder who did rigorous genetic testing. I realize there is no genetic marker for epilepsy, but genetic testing provides information about risk factors for a wide variety of other hereditary diseases. I wanted relief from the uncertainty of other possible health issues.
Kismet. Enter Stella del Nord, exceptional breeders located in Greenland, New Hampshire, a mere 90 minutes from my home. They met all the requirements I had, and then some. As with Aoife’s breeders, I became a part of their family. I made friends for life. And here He is, a mere 4 months after my world shattered and I lost my best friend. Here he is, Stella Del Nord’s God of Loyalty, healing my broken heart with his soulful eyes, his miniature (often wet) Spinone beard, and his wee fluffy brows. Here he is, making me laugh with his silly-big paws, puppy-tumbling, and bounce-barks as he and Aoife play. And I watch- knowing this is good for my girl, too. Knowing she misses Enzo as well. Knowing this soon-to-be-bigger-than-she-is puppy is also healing her heart.
Once again I have a purposeful destination. One of our first stops along the way is puppy kindergarten with my dear friend and colleague Helen St. Pierre from No Monkey Business. Why you may ask, would I take him somewhere else when I run a perfectly legitimate and successful dog training business? Well there are a lot of reasons, but two of the most important being Helen is my friend… and Helen has graduation gowns. Yep. Just wait until you see his graduation picture friends and neighbors. Worth every damn dime of the class fee.
We are already doing field work. My glorious boy and I will work together to train for his Natural Ability test under NAVHDA, the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association. He will be field tested and embrace what he’s been bred to do for hundreds of years. And then, because I don’t hunt but am obligated to provide an outlet for his natural instincts, my plan is to introduce him to tracking. My sincere hope is that he loves it as much as Enzo and I did. Is there an AKC Tracking Dog title in our future? Perhaps. But that truly doesn’t matter. What matters is the journey. What matters is that this beautiful boy is a beacon of hope for all that is possible once again.
Kismet. The God of Loyalty, who is also known to his family and friends as Giotto. Pronounced “Jaw-toe”, it is an Italian word meaning “Pledge of Peace”. We can all use peace in our lives…. right along with loyalty, laughter, good friends, and love. Everyone, please welcome this beautiful boy to the Leash & Hand family, to my family. He is my companion and my friend. He is Aoife’s playmate and napping buddy. I feel so blessed, so fortunate. This was meant to be.