Gabino Rodríguez Gil

    In those years -around the decade of 70´s- I bred, in addition to presa canario dogs, Doberman (that had still not been coiled by the spiral of the fashion)-, Podenco Ibicenco-Ca Eivissenc -, and German Shepherd dogs. But the recovery-reconstruction of the Presa Canario Dog was my true obsession, and the Majorero Cattle Dog, clear that there was to go slowly, very slowly, because was no breed, nor the number sufficient of units type presa to create a base of solid breed from which to start off. The old preseros spoke of the presa of the past, of the presa of so-and so, idealizing them always -the man tends to convert in a myth everything what has formed part of his life -.

And whenever it could I went in search of the mythical Dog of Presa, still knowing well that was thing of the past, youth is so innocent and it chooses to believe in what give him illusion, although not exist anymore. In those years I was very young, today I realize it. Lived in Tamaimo – the northwest of Tenerife -, the tourism in the south of the island was practically nonexistent, the apartments, the great hotels shone by their absence, all that was arriving little by little later; and in the north the tourism was centered in Puerto de la Cruz, who was not, clear, how is now. Gran Canaria was more tourist, due the beaches, Las Canteras, Alcarabaneras in Las Palmas, and San Agustín, Playa del Inglés, Maspalomas, in the south.

Many of the asphalt roads today at that time were dirt roads, the same thing in Gran Canaria that in Tenerife, frequently impassable, but that did not prevent me to go in search of a presa dog that could be in any house of field or isolated town. Thus I knew Gabino Rodriguez Gil a Sunday. No, by this way no longer they are left dogs of those, answered to me.

Gabino Rodriguez lived -already he died- on the foot of the Guillén road, to half of way between the Ortigal and the Ortigal de Arriba. Come on and take a small glass of wine, is good, we bought it last Sunday in La Guancha, in the warehouse of Goyo, we have everything in demijohns, therefore it is conserved better, and when it finishes we go and we bought again. The wife of Don Gabino, Doña Carmen -or she died- was a blind charmer mother of five adult children, two men, three women (a deficient one) and Pedro, of about eighteen or twenty years. When Doña Carmen gave birth to his fifth son, the doctor said that she could not have more, because it is possible that you become blind, you understands? Doña Carmen assented with the head, did not understand very well, but she assented with the head watching her husband Gabino.. After a few years, Doña Carmen was pregnant again, and when give birth she lost the eyesight. That was a familiar drama. In a family agriculturist and cattle dealer the woman of the house is a fundamental piece.

The one of that Doña Carmen could become blind if she had another son, not told me nobody of the family of Gabino Rodriguez, if bad nonmemory, told me somebody close friend.

    But, Doña Carmen or had customary to her blindness, or handicap as is said from a time to this part, just like her husband and their children, and Pedro was or a young man of eighteen or twenty years old, who in eighteen or twenty years is not accustomed to his misfortune? Still being blind, Doña Carmen peeled potatoes as if nothing had happened, cooked for the numerous family, was always of the good mood, loved to everybody, telling entertained histories related to her past, to her father, hes mother, her brothers, and she laughed very frequently with sonorous outbursts of laughter. Doña Carmen was happy, sure that she was happy. I am convinced that doña Carmen left this life happy.

When I arrived at home of Gabino Rodriguez Gil all the there present ones watched a little surprised, and something distrusted, by my long hair and beard -I imagine that it would be for that reason-. No, did not have no dog of presa, had had it, in the past, one very good, yes Sir, but who had several here was Pancho El Rey, the neighbor of that side, he yes can speak to you of presa dogs, even taught them for another people, I remember that people brought them from La laguna so that he taught them, he had hand for that, and as he had many children and were hard times, you understand? Gabino Rodriguez was very converse man, just like Doña Carmen, and was enough that one came from outside, of the other side of the island, so that they received to the visitor with certain enthusiasm, but you are not from here, truth?, Doña Carmen said me. Doña Carmen, with her fine ear of blind had noticed that my way to speak, my accent, was of the Peninsula. Of Catalonia you say that you are?, said me Don Gabino, I said yes, that I was of the Peninsula, of Lérida -in those years of pro-Franco dictatorship outside Catalonia we did not say Lleida, in Catalan, but Lérida, in Castilian (the speech Galician, Basque, and Catalan, had been hard repressed) -.

The dog of presa to Gabino Rodriguez was gave from puppy, somebody of La Laguna, a butcher seems to me that he said, and a tremendous dog became, would weigh about fifty kilos at least, said Gabino, look that my boys mounted in him as if it was a donkey, had a great head and the wide chest, he arrived until my knee -Don Gabino Rodriguez would measure a meter sixty eight centimeters-, we raised it with cow milk and the surpluses of our food, always were fat, was colorao (red) with the black mouth. Doña Carmen took part to say that the Bocanegra was very entendido (understood) -in the Canary Islands very entendido mean very intelligent and that learns easy- when he become adult, was always with the cows, if the cows were inside in the block he were there lying at the foot of the door, and people could pass that he did not make damage to nobody, but that to anybody happened to enter neither the block nor the house, because he stood and he gave four blasts (barking) that scared to anyone. After laugh as usually only do it the happy people she said, tell to the sir which did with the cows, Gabino. Don Gabino, pass the palm of the right hand through his front as to clarify the ideas and said, yes, man was a very entendido dog, he alone took away the cows from the block while I was loosen them and he took them to the grass, he alone, believe me that is truth, then put behind and he was pushing them, he touched them with the nose when they were delayed or they entertained with the grass that grows on the side of the way and he took them until the pastures, and there he was with them almost all the day, and at the exact hour he brought them of return for the milking, yes Sir, clear that that has its explanation, is like everything, from small we took him with them, and thus day after day, so for Bocanegra it became a routine, and thus until he died.

Well, until he died no, said Doña Carmen, because when he became old, he had difficult to walk, he remained lying and he left that cows were alones to the pastures. Yes, that is truth, you see, said Don Gabino Rodriguez, and then we had to accompany them some of us, the truth is that that dog did a great service to us.

You only had that dog of presa, I asked to Don Gabino. Yes, only to Bocanegra, we did not have another dog of presa, were not easy to obtain, dont think that everybody had dogs of those, no, Don Pancho El Rey, the neighbor of there, of that house -Don Gabino indicated the house that was hidden after a high and dense bard of I do not know what trees to few passages of the one of Gabino-, in addition he had skill for the dogs, reigned in them, liked to teach them, yes, now no longer because the man is very old, but in short, I can introduce you, Perico can go with you when you want, now is to late, but another day you return here…

Gabino Rodriguez was hunter, hunter of rabbits, and for that necessity he had tied on the foot of the orchard, near the block of the cows, four or five podencos of the country. They are not nothing of the other world, that it is truth, said Gabino like apologizing by the lack of quality of his podencos, then I said him that I breed podencos ibicencos and that I hunted with them – in the Canary Islands they are known like Majorcans, mainly if are of hard or long hair-, and that I was going to give him a very pretty puppy of seven months, but you must have it tied few days until he adapt to you, because he could escape and going to be lose. Dot worry, I am going to have it tied until he sees me that his master and recognizes me as, very contented Gabino Rodriguez answered me and added that the illusion of all his life was to have a Majorcan dog, I have seen them, runs much and takes the rabbits to tooth, there is not necessary neither gun nor nothing.

The next sunday I took a podenco ibicenco for Gabino Rodriguez, the man not finished to believe it, and Doña Carmen repeated, but Don Manuel you dont had why do this, who will see now this man being conceited of dog, you do not know him, with the desire that he had of a dog of these, but is that here it does not breed anybody, if I am not mistaken.

The puppy that I gave to Don Gabino was impressive, faithful exponent of the breed, of reddish hair, very distrusted, that yes, already had been said to Don Gabino that does not loosen him while he does not know you well that is possible that you lose him, and I tied it in an old pigsty that was under a chestnut tree to few meters of the entrance of his house. Perico was very contented also, he gave me constants pats in the back and said that he was going to teach him, and you do not worry that he is not going to escape. At some moment, Gabino Rodriguez talked about his dog of presa that no longer existed, and said to Pedro, his son, that goes to see if Pancho El Rey was at home, say him that there is a gentleman here whom want to know him. No, Pancho El Rey was not at home. Well, dont worry, said Gabino trying to dont give importance to the fact, come again the next Sunday and will see that he is there. Following thursday was day of hunting and to Gabino Rodriguez happened the fatal idea that to loosen the Podenco ibicenco that I had given him and to take it to hunt together with the podencos of the country. Until ten o clock in the morning he was with the other dogs but at that hour he raised the head, he watched all parts and he went away. That said me Gabino Rodriguez that same thursday at last hour of the afternoon. Sunday following I went to the house of Gabino Rodriguez, we approached, Don Gabino, Pedro, and me, but the podenco was lost, nor sign, we called him, rather I called him because was to me whom he knows more the poor animal, until twelve at night. Another day he was saw at little distance of where he went away, but he does not pay attention to the call, said Gabino Rodriguez to me, and he flees as soon as he sees that we approached, has become wild.

Another Sunday GabinoRodriguez spoke me of his cousin Santos El Verga, of Llano del Moro, who had a great dog of presa named Valiente, we are going to go to see him when you want, and to Pancho El Rey we are going to see him now, Pedro…, called Don Gabino, takes to the gentleman to see Don Pancho, that he is there, that I saw him enter for a short while. Lets go, said Pedro to me, I am going to introduce you Don Pancho, is a man that knows a lot, is a great person, for that reason they put him El Rey (the King), he has coarse dogs there, the Moro and the Deni.

As it is already hour to go to sleep, you are going to allow me that I leaves to Pancho El Rey for another day, seems you well? Good evening.

Manuel Curtó Gracia.

Year 2000