How many of us, we wonder, have acquired our breed because of our ethnicity? It’s possibly the worst reason to get a dog unless one has grown up learning about the breed through anecdotes, legends, and the personal experiences of family, as we did. By the time we met our first Puli, we knew the breed intimately, and it was indeed the right fit for us.
Perhaps that is what drove Alberto Semprini. The British born pianist, composer and conductor was known for many things, but folks of a certain age born in the United Kingdom may best remember him as host for a BBC radio music program called, Semprini Serenade, which he introduced with the words: “Old ones, new ones, loved ones, neglected ones.” The program started in 1957, and lasted for some 25 years. In that time, Semprini was a prolific recording artist, and also composed a few pieces including the one below:
Monty Python fans may also recall that during the “Flying Circus” show, a segment known as The Chemist made “Semprini” almost a dirty word. As the sketch went, the BBC would interrupt the show to ban a number of “naughty” words, including “wee wee,” “bum,” and “botty.” “Semprini” was the final forbidden word (who on earth knows why), and John Cleese playing the chemist would ask, “Who’s got a boil on his Semprini then?” He was immediately taken away by Graham Chapman playing a bobby, and for the rest of the show, anyone saying “Semprini” was also arrested.
What most folks won’t find in a biography of Alberto Semprini is that the very first Spinone Italiano to arrive in Britain was imported by Semprini in the 1950s. Perhaps like us, the composer (who was of Italian descent) grew up regaled by stories of the breed by parents and grandparents who’d had them in the Old Country.
We’re always touting the importance of doing ones homework before getting a breed, and we did, but our research paled in comparison to the first hand accounts shared by loved ones of a beloved breed. If it’s possible to fall in love with a breed before meeting it, we did. Did you?
This delightful portrait of a Spinone Italiano puppy was shot by John Daniels and is available to purchase as a print, poster, bath towel, tote bag and more here.
10 thoughts on “Did You Fall in Love Your Breed Before You Even Met It?”
Love these stories!
For me it is a chicken or the egg, lost-in-the-mists-of-time thing… when I was in elementary school I convinced my parents to get our first Kooikerhondje. Around the same time (??), my grandmother, who was into genealogy, shared an odd little story she found about Prince William of Orange, our direct ancestor, who was saved from an assassination attempt in the 1500s by his Kooikerhondje. As he then went on from there to have children – how odd it is that a Kooiker could literally be the reason for my existence?! (And yes.. I’ve had Kooikers ever since!)
And we love hearing the personal stories of our readers! Thanks for sharing yours, Gretchen
My first breèd was collies and I definitely fell in love before I met one. It started with Lassie, and then I discovered Albert Payson Terhune and the Lad, A Dog series. I fell in love with Lad, Gray Dawn, Bruce, Buff, and all the others. I wanted a collie so badly I thought I would die without one, even though I never had met one. I still remember the first three I ever met. Two were neighbors’ dogs who occasionally escaped and came to visit. Lassie and Baroness. I would have stolen them if I could have gotten away with it. Really. And my friend Elizabeth had one named Lad and I confess I wrangled invitations to her house just so I could sit on the floor and hug Lad. I finally got my first collie, Faith, shortly after I was married and had them for 25 years.
In the meantime, because of my daughter, I got involved with whippets. Which I definitely did not fall in love with before I met. I thought they were skinny, snooty, didn’t have enough hair, and were scared all the time. It took living with one for about ten minutes to fall in love. They are funny, affectionate, and, though it’s like hugging a bag of antlers, always ready for a snuggle. And they are not scared. Their tails are set low on their bodies, so they are usually “bottom waggers.”
Hugging a bag of antlers??? Only you could come up with such a descriptive way to describe hugging a dog. Sharyn, you remain our favorite of writers!
I fell in love with the Coton de Tuléar breed before ever meeting one or living with my first one. It was a total leap of faith. Within moments of meeting that tiny rascal of a puppy, I was in love; within a year, I had gone back for seconds — another beautiful girl. These are sweet fluffy dogs with an expression that melts your heart and the softest, cottony coats ever. Can’t imagine being without a Coton now, and all because I stumbled on a random mention online and had to look it up. Word to the wise, however — the AKC site has a dreadful pronunciation on its site. Better to ask your high school French teacher how to say it, or find that video that explains it as: “Cuh-tone; rhymes with bone.”
Rhymes with bone – got it! We think we were mispronouncing it Marci, so thanks for that. When you have a moment, share a picture?
This is an awesome post I have never read before. I have had German Shepherd for years. Now to my pup, a standard – intelligent, willing, just the right size, playful and energetic, learns quickly and has that quirky and funny ability to jump with all four legs at one time -just straight up – love of life and tons of fun.
Thanks Anna! We’re noticing what feels like a rediscovery of German Shepherd Dogs. More people have them again after what felt like a decade of wondering, “Where did all the GSDs go?” A terrific breed!
Really great post. I literally enjoyed it.
Why, thank you, Pete! We so very much appreciate feedback, and especially the positive kind! Thank you for reading the post, and for leaving a comment!