If you grew up watching Saturday-morning cartoons in the 1980s or 1990s, you likely know about the Smurfs and their mysterious "Smurf berries." The creator, Belgian cartoonist Peyo, initially called...
Maria, an exceptional animal communicator, not only offers top-notch training, hotel, and kindergarten services but also passionately breeds the elegant Italian Pointer and Weimaraner race. Beyond business, Maria is a guardian angel for mistreated and abandoned animals, providing rehabilitation at her sanctuary on the outskirts of Milan.
This year, Argentovivo expands its horizons, adding event hosting, pet therapy, and stylish pet parties to its repertoire.
Read all about Maria's inspiring journey and commitment to creating a haven of love for our beloved furry companions at Argentovivo in our magazine interview. We hope you enjoy the fascinating insights into her world!
Maria, your passion for animals shines through in every aspect of Argentovivo Academy. Can you share with us the inspiration behind creating such a holistic haven for dogs, encompassing training, hospitality, breeding, and even rescue efforts?
I grew up in a beautiful and large house with land in a residential neighbourhood on the outskirts of Milan. My father, a doctor passionate about birds, and my mother, an interpreter with great sensitivity towards animals, always instilled in me this passion and taught me respect. They allowed me to take care of small animals from early childhood. By the age of 5 or 6, I was already learning to interact with rabbits, hamsters, ducks, geese, chickens, turkeys, kittens, and a dog, either already present in the family or that I managed to bring home 'secretly.'
After completing classical studies and attending the IED (Institute of European Design) for copywriting and art direction, I found no satisfaction in what I was doing. As I began to lose my confidence due to a lengthy and tumultuous divorce between my parents, I started to experience a sense of serenity and fulfilment by spending increasingly more time with my animals. It was during this period that I developed a visceral passion and a strong commitment to ensuring their well-being in every aspect: from breeding, training, rehabilitation to the rescue world. In a time when I felt lost, I found my way back thanks to them. My father's departure resulted in the separation from our family home, posing challenges for my mother, siblings, and me. Nevertheless, we confronted the situation, making choices that shaped our current paths. Each of us overcame significant obstacles, with support from our mother. My brother became an international lawyer, my sister excelled as a clinical child psychologist, and I found fulfilment in a career centred around my passion for animals. To avoid abandoning any of my dogs, cats, and my pony, I moved to a remote area in about an hour from Milan, where I could piece my life back together. I earned a degree in Animal Breeding and Welfare because I always believed that to do something well, you need a solid foundation of knowledge acquired through study, to which practical experience can be added. I simultaneously obtained several certifications as a dog trainer and attended master's programs and courses, specialising in the reproduction and ethology of companion animals.
I started by breeding Weimaraners and then Italian Pointers, always maintaining small numbers to give the best care to each animal. I founded Argentovivo Academy, which offers various services for pets.
More than a company, Argentovivo is me – my natural and respectful approach to each species' ethogram.
“For me, my animals and those I care for are my family, my home, my work, my mission, and my greatest motivation. Today's daily life with an animal in an urban context is not easy. A dog or cat in a modern and urbanised society needs the right human reference to navigate non-natural environments and find fulfilment in various activities that we commit to doing with and for them. Otherwise, it's better to let it go, as we would ruin not only their lives but also ours. My goal is to teach people to understand and respect their animal's ethology, learning to read behaviours and any signs of discomfort, building a relationship of respect and trust that is fulfilling for the animal and nourishes the owner's spirit."
Beyond your role as a breeder and trainer, your sanctuary near Milan has become a refuge for mistreated animals. Can you walk us through the process of rehabilitation and how these animals find their way to a new, loving home through Argentovivo?
Taking care of abused or mistreated animals from intensive farming, giving them a second chance, and enjoying the time spent with them to help them regain trust in humans is a long and delicate process but extremely rewarding for my soul. Teaching people to respect animals according to their species-specific needs is my mission. The animals I recover after rehabilitation either become an integral part of my pack or are placed in educational farms or different situations where their well-being and respect can be guaranteed "ad libitum."
This year marks an exciting expansion for Argentovivo, introducing services like event hosting, pet therapy, and stylish pet parties. How do these new offerings align with your vision for the academy, and what experiences can pet owners and their furry companions expect?
Argentovivo Academy offers various pet care services, from socialisation to education, day care, and boarding for dogs and small animals. All services are exclusive and personalised. We work with small numbers to ensure an intense, educational, rewarding, and quality experience for each animal. We organise private or public events – playful, sports, educational – with animals for our community of "animal people." Argentovivo Academy is also an agency and a training school for animal actors and models. We collaborate with professionals from different fields, always respecting the animal world.
Our training courses, based on playful techniques, sensitise and accustom animals to cinematographic contexts. We prepare and accompany our animals on set with adequate training to ensure a qualitative experience. We recreate a context of harmony and safety for the cast, the entire crew, and in complete respect of animal well-being.
While Argentovivo may give the impression of a multinational with a large workforce, it has been founded and led by me, supported by my partner in recent years, and assisted by a fantastic new collaborator in recent months. The journey has involved considerable hard work, sacrifices, moments of discouragement, and bouts of loneliness. However, each day brings invaluable satisfactions.
Maria, as a young mother and the manager of Argentovivo Academy, with your commitment to taking care of numerous animals, can you tell us how do you manage to balance your family life with your passion for animals and maintain equilibrium throughout your day?
The arrival of my daughter caught me by surprise, and becoming a parent was never a part of my initial plans – it was something I had scarcely contemplated. Having dedicated a significant portion of my life to caring for the offspring of various animals, the addition of a human child brought about neither emotional nor practical upheaval. As a mother, I don't adhere to a highly organized routine; my life is characterized by spontaneity, surprises, and frequent changes of plans. Remarkably, amidst this unpredictability, I find a way to seamlessly weave everything together.
Witnessing the enthusiasm and innate curiosity of a child growing up in such close proximity to the natural simplicity of life and the animal kingdom is a profoundly beautiful experience. I've embraced this unexpected journey of motherhood with an open heart, allowing the unfolding of moments and discoveries to shape our shared experiences.
Since the day she entered this world, I have maintained a diary, a personal chronicle where I meticulously record the dynamics I observe in her interactions with animals. From the way she moves to how she talks to them, approaches them, and forms connections, I capture the nuanced responses she elicits from our animal companions. This diary has become a treasured repository of insights into the unique language that exists between a child and the animal kingdom.
In essence, my life as a mother has become a harmonious blend of embracing the unpredictability of each day while relishing in the simple joys that arise from witnessing the pure, unfiltered connections between a child and the world of animals. It's a journey marked by surprises, laughter, and the sheer wonder that accompanies the innocence of childhood.
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For me, my animals and those I care for are my family, my home, my work, my mission, and my greatest motivation.