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Havanese Extraordinaire

Angelito likes SLAC, but his real passion is competing in dog shows. That's okay, because Angelito is a 7-month-old Havanese puppy, owned by SLAC faculty member and BaBar/Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) collaborator Rafe Schindler.

Although he's very young, Angelito has been impressing judges across Northern California. He has already earned three "majors" and 10 out of the 15 points needed for his American Kennel Club championship—all in his first month of shows.

"I was trying to get the LSST team to make Angelito the official mascot," Schindler said, "but even though he was born in Tucson [the headquarters of LSST], they were concerned about his name." Angelito's registered name is Triple-H Lightning Strikes, and physicists on the experiment worry quite a bit about lightning striking their apparatus.

Havanese dogs, which are a type of Bichon, are a rare Toy breed in the United States. They were brought over from Europe to Cuba during the colonial period, where they were primarily companion dogs of the Cuban upper class. Eventually they became very popular family dogs as well, herding chickens and geese.

Angelito will grow to about 12 pounds and less than a foot high. He's very much the opposite of Schindler's last childhood dog—a 175 pound, 3 foot high Great Dane named Baron el Grande.

Schindler and his wife adopted Angelito while on vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Adopting the dog was an intense process; they spent 4 nights in a row being "interviewed" on the phone by the Tucson breeder of the nine-week-old puppy. "A few days into the process, she decided he was ours, but she didn't tell us until later," Schindler said. "We changed our itinerary and passed through Tucson to meet Angelito, and then we drove him home to California."

In addition to enjoying occasional visits to Central Lab, Angelito loves to make work for Schindler during his early morning walks. "He loves sprinklers and wet lawns. He gets dripping wet every morning, and I have to clean his paws when we get home," said Schindler.

Angelito also loves fruits and vegetables. White peaches are a special treat, but he regularly gets to munch on green peas, sweet potatoes, yams and fresh string beans. "This must be a tropical thing," said Schindler.

Last weekend, Angelito defeated 16 other Havanese to garner a Best of Winners, his third "major" win, at the Sacramento Valley Kennel Club Show in Dixon, CA.

It's all a surprise to Schindler. "Dog shows are crazy," he said. "I just like spending time with him."

—Rachel Courtland
    SLAC Today, November 1, 2006

Above image: SLAC's Rafe Schindler with Anjelito. (Click on image for larger version.)