I suspect the Medio would be an excellent size (large enough to be seen as a working dog, small enough to alert without knocking the handler over). In the past we've used Shetland Sheepdogs, Smooth Fox Terriers, and Schipperkes successfully, as well as a variety of mixed breed dogs adopted as adults. We often will also use smaller labradors and goldens from our own breeding lines, for clients without balance issues (which are common for those who are hard of hearing).
Our program trains both service (for people with physical disabilities) and hearing dogs (for people who are deaf/hard of hearing) this is where we think that the Podengo would excel. We look for a confident dog, with high persistence, and an acute sense of hearing. The dog is raised by a volunteer family for their first year, socialized to the human world (school, work, stores, etc) and then returns to our facility for skills training. A successful candidate is well mannered and quiet in public, friendly towards strangers, though disinterest is ideal to keep their focus on handler, we cannot place a dog who is in any way fearful or anxious in public or around strangers. Working hearing dogs alert their handlers physically (though a trained alert behaviour) to a variety of sounds and cues -- doorbell, phone, baby crying, item being dropped, smoke alarm, and by the nature of being a dog act as visual ears to sounds in the vicinity by their body language (for example when walking if someone is approaching from behind, the dog will look over their shoulder). This makes the world a less startling place for someone who is deaf, and the dog also acts as a signal to an invisible disability to members of the public.
We are located in Burnaby, British Columbia, a few hours north of Seattle, WA and also run our program in Calgary, Alberta. We are fully accredited by Assistance Dogs International and have been operating for over 25 years.
1. Is anyone aware of any (or is a) breeders in western Canada or in the Pacific Northwest that would be interested in discussing this in more detail -- or anywhere really if the breeder would be open to shipping the dog (and working closely with us to assess temperament)?
2. I'd also love to hear what those in this forum think of the breed as a potential candidate for this type of work.
Thanks in advance, Tara