Cynthia Schacht was a medical secretary living in Vero Beach, Florida, in 1966. She had recently returned from a trip to Europe with her parents where she had seen the most beautiful Giant Schnauzers. She already was the proud owner of a Miniature Schnauzer, but began to think about how nice it would be for Mini to have a Giant friend.
One day, she saw an ad in the newspaper advertising a litter of Giant Schnauzer puppies. She responded to the ad and fell immediately under the spell of a black guy "El Lobo Blitz". She took "Bitz" home to be her friend, protector and pal, but he developed so nicely that showing him was soon added to the agenda as well.
The breeder of this lovely Giant was a fellow by the name of Vince Fiorino. Vince had originally become interested in Giant Schnauzers in 1960 when he was looking, for a breed that could go with his horses as he was very active in that arena. Giants were very hard to find at that time and so he enlisted the assistance of the American Kennel Club to find one. They directed him to the Monroes of Ohio where he purchased Arco v Windenburg, a dog from the Monroes' breeding.
Arcro was a lovely giant who possessed all the good characteristics one would want in a Giant Schnauzer. He fit right in with Vince and the horses. From then on, there would always be Giant Schnauzers in the Fiorino household.
Vince, went back to the Monros, this time for a bitch. The Monroes had repeated the breeding of Arco with their "B" litter. The mother was the lovely Kati v Burgholzle, the sire was Hi View Thor CDX. Vince selected a puppy which was to grow up to become Ch Belisa von Winenburg CD , Top producing Giant Schnauzer bitch and tied for second place Top Producing dam/all breeds 1970 (Kennel Review).
For a long time, Belisa was the only Giant Schnauzer showing in the state of Florida. Vince ultimately finished Belisa by showing her in Midwestern competition.
Bv that time. Vince had become active in the Giant Club of America and was an early proponent of the OFA program and the GSCA Code of Ethics. The litter advertisement that Cynthia responded to was for the first litter that Vince had bred. Clever fellow that he was, he had already decided not to breed again until he had a wife to take care of all the work part of breeding. Now that ad brought in a "dual prospect"!!!
What with after care required for puppy ears and later, grooming once the decision to show had been made. Cynthia and Vince saw more and more of each other, ultimately marrying in 1967.
The Fiorino household filled out quickly with horse and dogs already in place followed by the birth of two sons in 1968 and 1969.
Lisa was bred twice to CH Terry von Krayenrain. Cynthia vividly remembers spending New Year's weekend with Lisa in the Miami airport. Cynthia was a very expectant herself and was trying to transport all 95# of Lisa to Tennessee for breeding. Repeatedly, Lisa obligingly jumped on top of the shipping crate rather than into it to the entertainment of all passersby in the terminal.
The first breeding of Belsia produced an all male litter; all were OFA clear and all finished their AKC championships. The second breeding produced 4 boys and 3 girls including one who became Ch El Lobo Estrella, the youngest Giant Schnauzer Bitch to finish here championship. The litter produced five champions out of seven puppies. It included Ch El Lobo Emo, the first Giant Schnauzer to earn an all-breed Best in Show. Emo was picked for purchased by Renee Marshall at the tender age of three days.
Around 1968, Belsia's brother was bred to a "von Bunger- hof" import bitch in the Bahamas. The litter of IO were sent by their breeder to. Miami for ear-cropping at the age of 8 weeks. Cynthia and Vince provided accommodations for "the gang" during their recovery period. It was while their living room was occupied by banks of crates full of squalling babies that it was decided that it was time to build runs.
The Fiorinos became more and more active in local dog - club activities as well as in the GSCA. Wanting to expand their gene pool, they wrote to many German breeders in search of a compatible brood bitch. They were in luck and arranged to import 13 month old Flora v Hollgraben from Neuremburg. Her breeder was a butcher all she had ever eaten was meat and egg yolk! Her breeder supplied her hip x-rays to assure the Fiorinos of her good hip conformation prior to shipping her. This sharing of x-ray information was a real first and Flora was the first Giant to have both PSK and OFA hip evaluation.
When Flora arrived in New York, the airlines misdirected her to Boston and no one knew where she was. The Fiorino later found out about her venture to Boston be- cause she was seen in the airport there by Dr. Cathy Robins who was in Boston on business, but who had no idea that a Giant Schnauzer was really en route to Florida. When Flora arrived Florida many hours later, customs tried to make the Fiorinos pay a late night fee so they could pick her up. Let's just say that Vince convinced the airlines that the bill was theirs!
Vince and Cynthia were thrilled with Flora when she finally arrived. She was magnificent. Her eyes were dark, her color was intense; her body was compact, her coat harsh as nails. Her temperament was great and her movement was superb.
Vince couldn't resist and stripped her coat immediately when they got home. She was never his friend after that She would obey him, but always most reluctantly.
Flora had been used for herding in Germany and would often go out at sunset and round up the Fiorinos' horses and put them in the barn. One day, a neighbor's steers got out. Flora rounded them up and trailered them, constantly looking at Cynthia for directions. Cynthia could give her none! So she did the job very well by herself, thank you.
Longer ear crops were coming in vogue at the time and Flora had that type of crop. Cynthia believes that this is what added to her appeal in the conformation ring.
Flora was bred to El Lobo Emo producing the El Lobo "J" litter. She was very much the children's dog and loved to pull them in a cart while they held her baby, Jezebella. At the age of eleven months, Jezebella took Best of Winners from the Puppy Class at the GSCA National Specialty and also at the back-to-back regional. Jezebella was BOS at Westminster at 4 years of age. Though her get were beautiful and OFA
Excellent, Jeze- bella's progeny never produced as hoped for the El Lobo line.
Later, the Fiorinos bought Brandenburg's Pat from John Ash. She was three years of age at the time. Pat spent the summer in the horse trough to keep cool and her favorite trick was to hold the pony by the tail so he couldn't move to eat.
She was bred several times. A breeding to CH El Lobo Emo produced CH El Lobo Nina v Emo, the first all- breed Best in Show Giant Schnauzer bitch. Also from Pat came El Lobo Satchmo v Emo who was a multiple Best in Show in Ecuador.
Over the years, there have been approximately 100 El Lobo champions Cynthia says, "We never wanted to be the biggest producers and I am realistic enough to know that not every puppy is going to be a champion. I strive for selective breeding to bring out the finest I can in conformation, character and temperament.
Vince and Cynthia were both active participants in the Giant Schnauzer Club of America over the years and Vince was President of the Club a couple of different times, Editor of "Giant Steps" and Southern Regional director. Cynthia has been Vice President and Southern Regional Director.
Vince passed away in 1985 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Son John is in the military and son Joey is going to college, working,. is married and is the father of the Fiorino's first grand baby. Just ask Cynthia how special young Alix is!
Today, Cynthia still lives in the family home in Davie, Florida, and she continues to breed the El Lobo line. Joey and his family are with her. Watch for Alix in the Junior Showmanship ring a few years from now and she couldn't possibly be there with anything but an El Lobo Giant Schnauzer!
This article originally appeared in the March 1992 issue of Giant Steps