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I (Irene) am happy to report that I have recently returned from the 2009 International Bergamasco Workshop and Raduno (Conformation Specialty Show), sponsored by the S.A.B. (Society of Bergamasco Fanciers), which is affiliated with the FCI and ENCI.  This year's conference, herding and agility demonstrations, annual dinner/gathering,  and day-long hiking trip with the assembled Bergamascos from all over the world took place July 3rd-5th in Vezza d'Oglio, an incredibly beautiful town nestled in the northern Italian Alps.  There was so much to soak up and appreciate in the brief but momentous time!  Some of the topics discussed in the workshop were:  Conformation, and detailing many of the finer points of the FCI Bergamasco Standard, the Prevention of Inherited Diseases, Coat Characteristics and Grooming, an interesting coat color genetic presentation, and an amazing international multi-generational Breedmate Database presentation, which will prove to be vital to the continued health and diversity of the Bergamasco gene-pool throughout the world.  This Database has been exhaustively-researched and is very comprehensive, as were all the discussions/presentations in the workshop.  Blizzard Peak's Dana Brier, my wonderful travel partner and fellow U.S. Bergamasco breeder, also presented a brief overview of the Bergamascos' situation in the U.S. that was well-received by all attending.  The workshop was dedicated in memory of Maria Andreoli, one of the important researchers and preservers of the Bergamasco Sheepdog (founder of the world-renowned dell' Albera kennels), a tireless advocate and champion of our breed.

The next LONG day featured a hike to view the prehistoric rock drawings at nearby Capo di Ponte, followed by a very bumpy, back-of-a-pickup truck ride up a winding and rocky mountain trail to the al fresco lunch for all assembled, and finally, the utterly captivating and inspiring herding and agility demonstrations!  These Bergamascos can HERD--and it was truly enlightening to see them in that breathtaking Alpine meadow, snow-capped mountains surrounding us on all sides--their natural environment!

The last full day was reserved for the Specialty Show (Raduno), held outdoors in beautiful weather on the grounds of the Vezza d'Oglio Lodge.  What a treat to see the 50+ Bergamasco Sheepdogs and participating S.A.B. members, and to meet so many of the legendary contacts and breeders at last in person!  The week concluded for me with a quick trip up through the Bernina Pass in Switzerland, and it began with a brief tour (Funicular ride included!) of Bergamo, Italy, where our Bergamascos earned their name.  My trip was fabulous beyond belief--except for those hefty portions of polenta, polenta, polenta--enough polenta already!  I am already making plans to return next year (and perhaps bring a dog, AND Mark, of course, this time!) for another dream come true!  It is my fervent hope that I can encourage and inspire an even larger, stronger U.S. representation at these wonderful events in the coming years.  Please click on the links below to view more photos, videos and information---Ciao!!