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Jeremiah D. Degenhardt
  • Reina is a two-year-old Cane Corso owned by Lindsey Velasco in California
  • Reina competes in Diving Dogs, Agility, and Conformation but hopes to get started in Rally and become a certified therapy dog
  • Cane Corsos are intelligent, loyal, eager to please, versatile, and athletic

When Lindsey Velasco was in college at California State University in Sacramento, she worked at a few different dog daycares. That’s where she says she met two beautiful Cane Corsos. Meeting these two dogs sparked Lindsey’s interest in the fearless, big-boned breed.

These dogs were incredibly well behaved and were extremely attuned to their owners,” Lindsey says. 

However, it wasn’t always clear to Lindsey that she wanted a Cane Corso. She grew up with a Shetland Sheepdog, then acquired a Shih Tzu and German Shepherd Dog when she lived in the Philippines with her family. She even worked with Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers often in her studies.

“I wanted a dog that I would be able to do many different things with – a versatile dog,” Lindsey says. “I also wanted a dog in the molosser family, but one that would be athletic. Upon doing research, the Cane Corso seemed like a great fit for me and my growing lifestyle.”

Training starts early. Lindsey introduces Reina to training as a puppy.

Finding Reina

After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area to pursue her degree in Canine Studies, Lindsey started to research breeders. She found Potrero Performance Dogs and set up a date for an in-person interview with breeder Alexia Rodriguez for a future puppy. After the puppy interview, Alexia told Lindsey she might also be a good fit for helping out at her kennel. Lindsey worked with Potrero for two years, where she continued to learn more and more about Cane Corsos.

Potrero Performance Dogs uses a method to match their puppies to their families by personality and lifestyle,” Lindsey says. “I left all the decisions to Alexia, and she placed Reina with me based on her personality and my lifestyle.”

At the time, Lindsey was a program instructor for a nonprofit that teaches wounded warriors how to train service dogs to be placed with fellow survivors. “My lifestyle was very busy, involved a lot of dog training, and required a dog that would be friendly with guests and with the dogs and puppies that we raised at the center and in our home,” Lindsey says. “Reina fit our lifestyle perfectly!”

Becoming a Canine Athlete

At just two years old, Reina has a lot of athletic experience already under her belt. She competes in Conformation, Diving Dogs, and Agility. Lindsey showed Reina to earn her conformation championship by age one-and-a-half. She’s also earned her Canine Good Citizen and her Canine Good Citizen Advanced and acquired her Trick Dog novice and intermediate titles on the same day, at 15 months of age.

Being a canine athlete takes training! Lindsey and Reina train daily.

“We spend a few days during the week working on obedience at home and in distracting environments,” Lindsey says. “We train tricks for fun! We also work on body awareness skills and stretches for injury prevention. Weekends are spent socializing out in public, attending training classes, going to dog-friendly events, conformation shows, hanging out at pet-friendly places, and training with friends.”

Reina trains for Agility at Diablo Peak Dog Sports

Lindsey’s favorite memory in dog sports is of Reina’s first Diving Dogs competitions. “She was extremely pumped and excited to jump — even with all the people around,” Lindsey says. “She made a HUGE splash and had a great time.”

What’s on the horizon for Reina? Lindsey hopes to get started in Rally and wants to test Reina to be a certified therapy dog.

Lindsey started showing Reina at nine months old as an owner-handler and finished her championship in nine months. They are working toward Reina’s Grand Championship.

Getting Started in Dog Sports

Lindsey loves sharing her knowledge with others involved in the dog world. She even started Reina’s Instagram page as a place to share their activities and accomplishments with other dog owners.

“I wanted Reina to be an ambassador for the Cane Corso and to show people that they can do so many different things,” Lindsey says. “I wanted to create a positive online community surrounding the Cane Corso where we could share training achievements and all of our accomplishments.”

She recommends people looking to get started in dog sports find a trainer, class, or training club. “Have fun with your dog no matter what happens and enjoy the training process!”

Learn More About Reina

Reina is more than an athlete and a loving canine companion. She also has many quirks and talents. For example, Reina loves her blanky and will take it into bed to snuggle with. She loves soft toys but doesn’t destroy them — she carries them around the house and cuddles them!

Around the house, she’s also a huge help. Reina knows how to open the refrigerator, bring Lindsey water, and close the refrigerator. Plus, Reina has worldly tastes — her favorite snack is Italian cheese and most of her commands are in French.

When she’s not training or cuddling with her blanky, she’s probably hanging out with Rex, Lindsey’s nine-year-old Shih Tzu.

Join Reina

Follow Reina’s journey through dog sports on Instagram. To find the right dog breed for you, check out the AKC Marketplace.

Any breed can participate in sports like Diving Dogs and Agility. To find out more, explore Diving Dogs and Agility and find an event near you.

Think your dog has what it takes to be Dog Star of the Month? Use the hashtag #ThisIsAKC on Instagram.

Love learning about AKC Dog Stars? You’re in luck.

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