Jennifer Holzke of Sambuca Cirneco dell'Etna
Some people are born into it, some marry into it, and then there are those of us that start from scratch. I remember being a little girl, and begging my mom to let me stay up late two nights a year. What was so special about those nights you ask? Westminster Kennel Club dog show. Maybe I didn’t know the breed I would end up with, but I was always fascinated by the dog show world. And I knew that someday I would make it to that carpeted ring at Madison Square Garden. Having always been drawn to sighthound type breeds, I have had a few over the years. My soul mate was a beautiful Sloughi bitch, that is sorely missed. The time eventually came for me to do research to find the breed that would be my passion. After having Sloughis, and Ibizans, I knew the look I was going for. I wished that there was a smaller sighthound breed, something that would leave me a little more room to sleep in my own bed. The IG came to mind, but I thought maybe I should go with something a bit more sturdy. Perhaps a whippet? I had always admired them, but perhaps I was looking for something a little less common. Through my searched in books, and online, I came across a little red dog that had a name I couldn’t even begin to pronounce. The Cirneco dell'Etna. I read everything I could find on the breed, emailed any breeder that I could find. Then I thought of a little red dog, with great big ears that I had seen at a show years earlier. It occurred to me then, that he had been a Cirneco. At the time I was not interested in taking on another breed. So the dog I had seen, perched on its owners lap outside the show ring, made me smile and I can remember it to this day. But I never would have thought that someday I would have my own, who often perch on my lap in the very same way. As luck would have it, my first Cirneco made her way into my heart in 2002. She is now a great-grandmother, and although she has long since been retired, she will still assure you that she is the boss of all things dog. What little breed information I could manage to find in English could never have prepared me for what was to come. I am always amazed by the Cirneco's lust for life. They seldom meet a stranger, will happily climb on a judge or anyone else that will allow them to. They have been called "the primitive bed warmer" and live up to this moniker. Always finding their way under blankets, and into your bed. Nudging your hand until you will lift up the covers they quickly find their way into the warmest place, and also the quickest way into your heart. Cirnechi seem to have three speeds. They are running, asleep, or trotting around busy as can be. I can’t say that I ever see them just walk anywhere, they seem to always have a purpose that the rest of the world is unaware of. The Cirneco can found on centuries old coins from Sicily. They are still used to hunt rabbits, and were bred to hunt the difficult volcanic terrain around Mt Etna. Hence the "dell'Enta" portion of the breed name. Families there have been breeding and hunting with them for generations. The FCI recognized the Cirneco as a breed in 1939, and the breed will move into the AKC Miscellaneous class on January 1, 2012. Perhaps the dream of showing under the lights at the Westminster Kennel Club show is not so far fetched after all.