Yo. Facebook is an amazing invention, right? I've made friends with an incredible (NON-CCI!) dog, in VIRGINIA of all places, through Facebook. His name is Ecco D'Oro. Fancy, huh? But he's a really funny fellow. If you don't believe me, click on the slide show I put together. When you've stopped laughing, come back and read the interview.
ROCKET: You're quite fuzzy. What is your breed?
ECCO: I am a Spinone Italiano.
ROCKET: Say what? Sounds like a frozen desert. Explain, please.
ECCO: Um, I think you mean spumoni. Spinone Italianos are an ancient breed that can be traced back to approximately 500 BC. We were originally bred as a versatile hunting dogs, and my breed still masters that purpose. We are "loyal, intelligent comedians with humanlike expressions and a tight wiry coat."
ROCKET: Hey, except for the wiry coat part, we could be brothers. *snort* Besides being a hunting dog, you're a show dog, right? Didn't I see you at Westminster this year?
ECCO: It's true, I am an AKC Grand Champion in the conformation show ring. But that's not all. I am a proficient hunter, a Canine Philanthropist, a Magazine Cover Model, the Spokes Dog for Nawty Dawg Big Heart and a Travel Correspondent for Everyday Opera!
ROCKET: (stunned) Um, wow. That's crazy. You are one busy dog! What's your favorite job?
ECCO: Hmmmm. Although my schedule is quite diverse, I would have to say my favorite occupation is being a bird dog. There is nothing more exciting than feeling the wind in my beard and communing with nature as I search the cover in hopes of pointing and flushing those little winged beauties.
ROCKET: (worried) Wait, the birds don't get hurt, right?
ECCO: No, don't panic! My human parents do not have the heart to harm the birds, so most of our training is carried out with a blank starter pistol. I could stay in the field for hours. (Happy sigh) Once, it took my dad an hour and a half to get the burrs out of my coat. The second he was finished I acted like I was running back to the car and instead, I took off to start the process over again!
ROCKET: Oooh, that was sneaky. And really funny. I think I'm beginning to understand why your charity is called Nawty Dawg. What's that all about anyhow?
ECCO: Nawty Dawg Big Hearts trademarked motto is If you care and share life can take you ANYWHERE! The company was organized to help any human or animal in need. The foundation is built on the premise that if you are compassionate toward others and lead by example through random acts of kindness, the positive energy will multiply making the world a better place.
ROCKET: I love it! That's my kind of charity. How did you start it?
ECCO: The company had a serendipitous beginning. It started when Ma (aka Amy) started posting some of the naughty things that I would do on Facebook just for fun. Our fan base grew quickly and we began to turn my naughty habits into positive ways help others.
ROCKET: Like what?
ECCO: *cough* I seem to have a wee bit of an underwear-stealing fetish, which resulted in our annual Underwear Everywhere drive, where people from all over the world send new socks and underwear for us to donate to the Union Mission Ministries. We then invite young children to box all of the undies up and join us when making the donation to the mission. It enables a child to learn about philanthropy at a young age and understand that there are many who are less fortunate.
ROCKET: That's a great idea and clever, too. Tell me more about the Nawty part.
ECCO: One thing that was apparent from the beginning was that just because your behavior is not stellar 100% of the time, it doesn't mean that youre a bad egg. If you learn from your mistakes and use them to grow, your loving heart will be the key to living a productive life; hence the name Nawty Dawg Big Heart was born.
ROCKET: You sell some products, too.
ECCO: Right. Shortly after we had our underwear drive, our fans started asking for a Nawty Dawg Big Heart product line. We chose our items carefully and went through seven artists before we found the one who got the energy that we were trying to express through our designs. A portion of every product sold goes directly back into helping others through direct donations or charity give-away contests.
ROCKET: Marianne enjoyed shopping on your website, I have to say. She choked on her coffee when she saw the panty bandit dog tag. Hilarious! What's your goal?
ECCO: Our non-profit status is pending. Our goal is to promote philanthropy and to be able to fulfill all requests when there is an animal or human in need. We are developing educational materials as we speak to teach children at a young age the importance of being compassionate as well as the knowledge that THEY are in charge of THEIR own happiness and that they have the choice to surround themselves with those who lift them up or tear them down. Bullying is inevitable. Our goal will be to empower today's youth with the necessary tools to make their world a more productive place.
ROCKET: What's this 'Eccolini' that Marianne keeps going on about?
ECCO: It's a stuffed mini me! We decided to manufacture it for two specific reasons: There are not many Spinone owners who see stuffed Spins (as we fondly refer to our breed) while shopping at the mall. Breeding is extremely regulated to preserve our health and well-being, therefore you will not find many more than 250 new pups in the US per year. Due to the fact that we are considered a rare breed, toy manufacturers are not standing in line to produce a quality product.
ROCKET: True -- you're the first Spinone I've ever met. What the other reason?
ECCO: The second reason was that so many of my fans asked for it! It took seven painful months to produce a stuffed pup that would satisfy the breed enthusiasts as well as appeal to the universal market. There were many tears shed before the manufacturer finally delivered a product that made Ma smile. Finally, the Eccolini was born and the Nawty Dawg Big Heart logo was proudly sewn to his butt!
ROCKET: Are there a lot of Eccolinis?
ECCO: YES! The Eccolini phenomenon has gone global! The first batch sold out in a day and they were mailed to every continent but Antarctica (we are working on that!) We've received amazing pictures, from an Eccolini on an ice berg to a hookah-huffing Eccolini on vacation in the Canary Islands! The pictures were so incredible that the Where in the World is Eccolini? contest evolved. At random times, we post a picture of an Eccolini in a strange place. The person who is the first to correctly guess where Eccolini is wins money for their favorite charity! The contests have proven to be great fun while providing many who have absolutely nothing to give in a down economy an opportunity to feel special by making a donation to someone else. You can buy one for Marianne at Nawty Dawg Big Heart. $29.99 plus shipping. Come on Rocket, be a sport.
ROCKET: OK, OK, I'm sold. I'll get one for Marianne. Who are the other animals in your household?
ECCO: Minnie Pearl is a nine-year old rescued Bloodhound. Roso is my two-year old little brother (we have the same father.) We have three kitties: Rosie, a five-year old rescued dilute calico, Sammie is a fifteen-year old rescued Siamese, and Chill is a grey and white three-year old domestic shorthair. Val is our seventeen-year old Cockatiel, and last but not least is General Patton, aka Lizard Dude, a one-year old Chinese Water Dragon.
ROCKET: Dear Dog, that's a lot of siblings! Do you get along with everyone? Who's your best buddy?
ECCO: We mostly coexist peacefully although Roso and I LOVE to chase Sammie and Chill, which makes them a bit angry. Rosie pretends she is a dog and just doesnt run, so she is our favorite cat to hang out with. Lizard Dude is pretty zen so he and I have been known to take a nap or two together. He is also an aspiring cover model. Paws down, my brother Roso is my best bud. He allows me to be the big brother and king of the castle. We are inseparable.
ROCKET: If my readers want to follow your antics, er, I mean your charitable activities (not to mention Sunday prayers and Italian lessons), where can they find you?
ECCO: Well, besides my website, they can check out my Facebook page, and my Twitter account is @EccoDOro. Oh, and there's my Power of the Paw Facebook page, too.
ROCKET: Any last thoughts for my readers?
ECCO: I want to thank all of my faithful followers who have made me and Nawty Dawg Big Heart what we have become to date. Alone, a giving heart will glow. Together, a giving heart will grow. We appreciate the incredible journey were on and hope that more will accompany us along the way! Oh, one last thing: To all of the wonderful dog trainers who have offered their services to make me more obedient, um, if I were well-behaved, Ma would have no company and I would lose my gig as a Spokes Dog. Just sayin.
HA! Chow for now!
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