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Romanian Breed May Get Recognition

December 10, 1998

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ What has an Afghan’s body, the heart of a lion and eyes to fall in love with?

For Romanian dog lovers, this riddle’s easy: It’s the mioritic, a fluffy, heavyset canine that has been part of Romanian dog lore for centuries. Now, their push for international recognition for the breed is finally getting some attention.

``I believe that the Romanian mioritic is a charming, natural, elegant, intelligent and charismatic dog,″ Dr. Jean Maurice Pachoud of the Belgium-based International Canine Federation was quoted by the newspaper Ziua as saying after coming to Bucharest to check out the gentle off-white canine.

He said the mioritic deserves to be recognized by the federation. That gives the dog a leg up on formal acceptance as a breed when the federation holds it next international conference in Mexico in 1999.

The dog, which looks something like a bulky Afghan with a lion’s head, stands up to 35 inches high, and weighs up to 198 pounds, comes originally from the Carpathian Mountains. Its size and strength, along with a gentle disposition, has made it the ideal sheep dog.

That gentleness is reflected in the eyes, which Razvan Petrisor, deputy head of the Romanian Sheep Dogs National Club, describes as ``brown, rimmed with a thin black line, with curved eyelashes.″

Bravery is also one of the mioritic’s traits.

A medieval chronicle from 1359 tells of a mioritic named Molda who died while trying to protect her master, King Bogdan, from being gored by a bull.

In the mid-1970s, newspapers published a story about a mioritic who fought a bear to protect an injured shepherd and then ran nine miles to the nearest village to bring help.

At that time, Romania was communist, and owning a dog _ at least in the city _ was considered a ``bourgeois habit.″ Fighting back, The Romanian Dog Association gave a mioritic puppy to dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s son, Nicu.

Given Ceausescu’s mania for all things Romanian, the ploy worked. By the early 1980s, the mioritic was recognized as a unique national breed.

Nowadays, the dog’s price tag of $250 to $500 puts it out of range for most Romanians, who earn an average of $120 a month. But that doesn’t stop the well-off from owning the four-legged status symbol: President Emil Constantinescu’s son, Dragos, has a mioritic as does Agriculture Minister Ioan Muresan.

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