Sioux City man Frank’s ‘hairy dog’ is a rare breed

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — When Alex Johnson tells you his dog Frank is one of a kind, he’s almost literally telling the truth.

There aren’t many dogs like Frank, who is a Barbado da Terceira, a rare breed of which there are estimated to be 200-300 around the world. He is one of 34 people living in the United States.

“I didn’t realize he was so rare,” Johnson said, nodding at the energetic tuft of hair nearby. “I just saw a dog that was beautiful, and I was at a point where I wanted a dog.”

Barbado da Terceiras is a fluffy medium-sized dog bred to herd and guard livestock in the Azores, a small group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean that is part of Portugal. Johnson had never heard of the breed before deciding he wanted a dog and googling hypoallergenic breeds that wouldn’t trigger his allergies. While scrolling through the search results, a long-haired breed with loving eyes caught his eye.

“I like a furry dog, I guess,” Johnson told the Sioux City Journal.

While researching the breed, he learned that BDTs – an easier way to refer to the breed’s name – don’t shed and are well-bred. He had found his dog, but getting one wouldn’t be so easy.

Johnson contacted the president of the breed club in the United States in September and learned that because there are so few dogs in this country, there is a two-year waiting list for a puppy. However, one could get one earlier from breeders in Portugal.

“I’m a very persistent person,” Johnson said. “When I see and know what I want, I go with it.”

He was put in touch with a breeder in Portugal and in March was informed that a dog was available.

One problem: Johnson’s passport had expired, so he couldn’t travel to Portugal. Instead, his colleague Sean Bigbear made the trip. Frank’s journey to America ended at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago after spending an hour and a half through customs. Already too big to fly in the passenger area of ​​the plane, Frank spent the flight in a kennel in the hold.

“He smelled bad. It was rotten. He had no idea what was going on,” Johnson said of meeting Frank in the airport’s international terminal.

But Frank’s happy and curious personality soon won out over his scruffy appearance and he snooped around to explore his surroundings. After the drive to Sioux City ended, Frank settled in and became a friendly face in his neighborhood, enthusiastically greeting every person and animal he sees.

“Frank thinks everyone is his friend,” Johnson said.

Most people assume he is a doodle, one of many breeds crossed with poodles. When Johnson tells them he’s a Barbado from Terceira, “I get pretty confused looks.”

Owner of Proper Painting, Johnson takes Frank to work with him, the dog hanging a front paw through the passenger window of Johnson’s van as they drive to and from work. A skateboarder, Johnson takes Frank with him to local skate parks, where Frank, due to his race’s cattle herding background, enjoys chasing people, trying to round them up to get closer to Johnson.

“Frank is always trying to be assertive,” Johnson said of the breed’s sometimes stubborn and assertive behavior.

But there’s no worry about intruders sneaking into his house. Frank is sleeping outside the door, his natural guardian instincts kicking in.

The 8-month-old has reached 63 pounds, and if his big paws are any indication, he will exceed the upper 70-pound end of the breed’s weight range.

Frank may be rare, but he exhibits running-dog behavior, playing with an empty caulk tube and plastic bag on a construction site and earning laughter and affectionate looks from Johnson, who found everything he was looking for. was looking for when he began his search for a dog.

“He exceeded expectations in every way,” Johnson said.

A common feeling among dog owners, regardless of the rarity of their dog’s breed.