Local couple cherishes their rare dog

Willoughby, a Barbado da Terceira is one of 200 to 300 of breed in the world
September 22, 2022

For many, comfort can be found in confiding in furry friends. Many dog owners may find their puppies by surfing the internet or sticking to breeds seen in everyday life. But Cindi and Scott Sobel’s story was a bit different, thanks to Willoughby.

The Sobels are a typical dog-loving, nurturing couple. With six grandchildren, they are able to keep up with the high energy that most puppies possess. When it came to looking for their next dog, they thought they were going to choose something common. To their surprise, they were met with the opportunity to have Willoughby, the last puppy from the first Barbado da Terceira litter in the United States. There are only about 34 dogs of this descent in the United States and 200 to 300 in the entire world. Within the past two years, the number of breeders has gone from one to five, providing more of these friendly faces. 

This rare breed originated more than 500 years ago from the Portuguese Azore Islands, where they were known to be cattle herders. Willoughby has a strong build.  With just a touch, someone can feel just how lean she is, which makes cattle herding fitting for her breed. These pups are a mix of Portuguese water dog and poodle. With a coat just like a poodle, the Barbado da Terceira is hypoallergenic, excluding them from shedding, but resulting in a maintenance fashion of grooming and upkeep to maintain the comforting soft fur that makes them so easy to pet and cuddle. 

Willoughby’s fortunate parents only had to travel to Frederick, Md., where they were met with the very first breeder in the United States. While this may be true for them, the breeders did not obtain as easy of access as the Sobels. After traveling to Portugal, the breeders found their first Barbado da Terceira. They enjoyed the company of this dog so much, they decided to travel back to the U.S. with their dog. Shortly after, they felt the importance of spreading the love they were able to receive and imported a second dog to pursue breeding. A friend of Cindi’s recommended they purchase one of these rare puppies from the same litter from which they were planning to get a puppy. 

Although Willoughby is more muscular than a typical dog, it does not stop her from poodle tendencies that give them such a personality that makes them think they are smaller than they are. This nearly 2-year-old pup enjoys greeting everyone and socializing. When it comes to greeting, Willoughby will not hesitate to attempt to give everyone in the room a kiss on the mouth and a hug to the grandchildren in the family. Some may be timid of this outgoing furry friend, but not kids. They find Wiloughby’s love entertaining and exciting, causing her to want to share this love with every person she encounters. 

Similar to most dogs, this one has an extreme love for the dog park. Whenever they can, the Sobels try to take her to the Lewes Unleashed Dog Park. Willoughby enjoys playing fetch and eating tasty chicken bits. However, if her parents say no to the dog park, she has been known to throw herself on the floor and pout until she gets her way. Her dramatic attitude is one of the many qualities that show how smart she is, along with being persistent. 

Behind every dog’s eyes, there is a personality that does not match any other. If ever meeting Willoughby, one will know immediately that she has a heart worth exploring. Her big gray-toned eyes give away that she is outgoing, affectionate, high-spirited and so much more.


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