DOTR Luis and Neos

My name is Luis Vargas, I am from Mexico City, Mexico. I have been working for twenty-two years in the dog world as a handler, groomer and trainer. I met Grazia when she was still shown in conformation by Rachel Hosking who is her breeder and owner. The first time I saw her, she immediately caught my attention.
I fell in love with Neapolitan Mastiffs when I was 10 years old. I saw one walking down the street with his owner and that started my passion to work with dogs. I have been fortunate to travel around the world to see many Neapolitan Mastiffs but there are only a few that can catch your attention and you can’t stop looking at them. It’s like Love at First Sight.

When I was very young, I started dreaming on been a great breeder and handler, and to be able to travel around the world meeting the most important breeders and dogs of their time. The main reason was to know how they had achieved their success and that I wanted to aim towards such. I started studying and absorbing everything from books, magazines and people. I contacted different breeders and finally I had the chance to work with the most important kennel at that time in Mexico, Mr. Benito Sanchez of Di-Santone Kennel.

Today, with twenty-two years of trajectory, I have been able to exhibit Neapolitan Mastiffs in more than ten different countries and win many Best of Breeds in Specialty shows and All-Breed shows. I am always competing and learning from the expert breeders and enthusiasts I have encountered and have wanted to meet along the way.

During these years I have been able to work with many dogs and there are always some that mark you and make a difference. Grazia is one of them. She is a female that, from the first time I saw her, I was charmed by her and it was a dream to be able to work with her (who wouldn’t be happy driving a Ferrari). By a chance of fate, Rachel contacted me to see if I would be interested in showing Grazia and I said “yes” at that precise instant. This was back in 2017 and that’s when this new and exciting story began.

I had this opportunity at the United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club National and Regional show. We were awarded Best of Breed in both shows and were able to win the Working Group and a Reserve Best in Show in the All-Breed. This was really an important victory, since it’s not very common for a Neapolitan Mastiff to win the group, and especially not a female. I believe that winning this event has been one of the most important wins for my career, since it was our first time together in the ring and it was a very important moment for me.
After winning this event, our team started to be very solid and obtained various results at very prestigious events. Grazia and her brother, Dorian, as a team, have made breed history and earned many victories together. But one standout victory for Grazia was to be the first Neapolitan Mastiff winning at a Top Ten Event held for the first time in 2019. For me, this proves that she has so many exceptional qualities as a Neapolitan Mastiff and three expert judges saw the same qualities. I have to be very sincere and say that, for me, it was very important to be the first to win that trophy and make a mark in the history of the breed.

Then we have the highlight of it all, at the greatest of events in the USA. An important event for all dog lovers is the ability to participate together at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. I say together, as years before Rachel had shown Grazia and won the breed with her at Westminster. I had to do my best work possible for our turn. The first time I showed her there, in February 2018, Grazia was Opposite Sex to her brother, Dorian. We were very happy for this result as a team, but it was the opportunity of showing Dorian in the Garden that was very exciting and for me I enjoyed every moment of it. I can also say we had the pleasure of being part of the documentary Seven Days Out. Every time someone watches it, I tell them to check it again, since we appear. We are famous! I will always be thankful to Rachel for letting me take Dorian in the ring at the Garden and let me be part of that moment.

Finally, we had our moment, Grazia and I. To demonstrate that we could, together, win the breed. This current year, the results turned, with Grazia winning Best of Breed and Dorian with Best of Opposite Sex. My wife back in Mexico was trying to see the live-streaming of the breed on Facebook but got so nervous that she decided to wait for someone to post the results. This is why I believe this event is so important. It’s a show for everyone who loves dogs, it’s excitement, it’s the Oscars, it’s the Super Bowl for dogs. For me to be able to show Grazia in the Garden is a very powerful and emotional time as a breeder and handler of the Neapolitan Mastiff. It is a dream to show a specimen of such quality and soundness at one of the most important events worldwide. I believe judges notice that when she enters the ring, she knows she is a star and commands attention. She is the protagonist of the story, and this puts all of her victories apart from her quality, soundness and type. This has allowed her to go where no female Neapolitan Mastiff has gone before.
To wrap it up, I would really like to thank the Hosking family for allowing me to be at the end of Grazia’s leash as a teammate and making me feel part of their family. Since for me they are very important, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity I have had during these years with Grazia. I am looking forward to many more great years in and out of the ring.
Written by Luis Vargas Miranda with the help of Adriana DiVanni

Photograph by
Steven Surfman