Discover the mascot Lea
Lea is a eight-year-old Golden Retriever, who weighs 28kg and lives in Udine together with Desie, another Golden Retriever cream dog who just recently joined the family. She is fit, sweet, adventurous and ready to help others.
Lea is a very careful and loving dog, especially when she is helping lifeguards to prevent and intervene in sea accidents. To get her to know better we have interviewed Marco, her owner.
Could you please describe us the moment when you first met Lea?
“Just out of curiosity, my partner and I went to see a Golden Retriever litter in Tolmezzo, located in the province of Udine. The idea was to make one day a real rescue dog’s experience. When we arrived there, it was a blow to the heart. Among all puppies we got impressed by a little creamy ball of fluff, a cute ‘stuffed animal’ that was jumping everywhere. We immediately fell in love with her and it was a beautiful feeling. She was two months old and we decided to take her home with us despite we were not ready to welcome a dog yet.”
How did your life change after meeting Lea?
“It turned upside down. She opened a world to me. I’ve always had a dog since I was a child, but Lea is the only dog I consider completely mine. We have been living together for many years, just the two of us sharing a kind of symbiotic relationship: I have always had her with me in the office, everywhere, all the time. She taught me how to adapt my daily pace, my everyday’s life and activities to someone else, a dog in this instance. I am a person who is always busy with different activities, but I know that I have a few hours in the day to completely dedicate to Lea. She also taught me to find some time just for myself. On the other hand, my partner and I taught her to be able to live different contexts and situations. She gained lots of differente experiences like simply being in a restaurant. We eat and she stays quiet under the table.”
How did you pick her name?
“There is not a big story behind it. I just remember that she was without a name for a couple of days. We thought about it for a long time but we just wanted to give her a short name and easy to remember. That’s why we decided to call her Lea.”
How should a perfect dog owner be?
“A good dog owner should make sure to give a dog what he needs, which is not a lot. From the day you get a dog, it’s a daily committment that lasts at least 15 years, and hopefully more than that.”
Which is the sweetest thing you did for Lea? And what did she do for you?
“This is a very nice question. What did I teach her? Regarding sweetness I doubt that I taught her anything because she is teaching me about it. Lea does sweet things for me every day. She is very bond to me. Every evening she wants her cuddles, she comes to me putting her head inbetween my legs and sleeps. This is one of our sweetest moments, something that I deeply appreciate from her.”
Which are Lea’s other features?
“Lea has long tail hair and we are proud of it. It’s her distinctive feature compared to other Golden Retrievers. Lea has got a second name: Shanaia, like Shanaia Twain. We are passionate about country music, that’s why she got this second name but we rarely use it.”
How was Desie welcomed in the family?
“Lea is more affectionate while Desie is more cautious. After she gets some more confidence, she becomes very cuddly as well. They are both committed in rescue dog swimming and they operate together. They play and have fun together. They look for each other and they support each other. They have built a very strong bond.”
Do you share hobbies?
“She lives for our daily walk! When we have the chance, we practise sport together like hiking and other sporting activities. We run together in the middle of nature, two or three times a week, even for 15km. We love hiking. During winter we go skiing and ski mountaineering. So we like sea and mountains at the same time, despite she prefers the sea. Our ideal holiday is on the sea. We often go to Croatia, where there is more freedom for dogs in the sea.”
How did she become a rescue dog?
“A Golden Retriever is a dog who has a close relationship to water. Lea has followed a training for a year and a half. When she just got five years old (the minimum age to get the patent), she got a search dog’s patent that is binomial for the owner and his dog. Lea can be operational with two different owners: Alessandra, my partner, and me. At the moment Lea is in continuous training through small exercises to learn better what she already knows, and to learn new things too. With the summer approaching, we will be busy with our dog rescuing activity together with our search dogs’ group, doing some training and exhibitions in our region. During our exhibitions on the beach, we try to let people understand how important is the role of a dog to rescue people. It’s a joint activity, I can blindly trust Lea. Together we are able to rescue up to two people from the water.”
What makes Lea happy?
“It’s easy to answer to this one: water. You just need to put her in front of the sea and she is very happy. When she sees the water, she gets overexcited. She also loves diving, she dives from any heights. She likes eating too. She is always hungry, she would eat all day long from the morning till the night. It’s her weakest point. We need to keep an eye on her, otherwise she puts weight on and she won’t be a good a rescue dog anymore.”
What do people usually say to Lea most of the time?
“Adults say: ‘How beautiful!”. Then, when they got to know her better, they feel her sociable and warm personality. She has the talent of staying close to people, to give and receive love. When she gets closer to you, she puts her head inbetween your legs to get some cuddles. If you pet her, she would stay like this all day long and she won’t move anymore.”
How does Lea behave with other people?
“Lea is the classic dog that could help in pet therapy programmes. She is able to stay with everyone, she feels people and understands the needs of a group. When she meets a child, she starts playing; when she meets an old person, she wants to be cuddled. She is always ready to help whoever is in need.”
How did you tell Lea that she will become the Roma 2022 mascot?
“Lea doesn’t understand all this, obviously. She lives her life, she takes her little swims and she walks. During the online contest, we sometimes looked at her saying: ‘Can you understand what we are doing?.’ When we will be leaving home, she will start feeling the people’s love and I am sure that she will adapt to any situations because she is now an adult dog and has a lot of experience. During the days we spent in Riccione, she particularly loved the sea.”