21 Dec Some history never comes bad
Looking back in time and at one´s history is never a bad thing. This is my story, of how I arrived in the Canary Islands and how my enthusiasm for the Canary dogs was born.
I lived in Barcelona, Spain, and as circumstances would have it, I met two girls from the Canaries, who had just arrived in Barcelona, and in time, not very much time I might add, one became my wife. On getting married we decided to come to the Canaries so as I could meet my new wife´s family. We travelled by sea, at that time air travel wasn´t as frequent as it is today.
I wasn´t accustomed to island life and after six months we decided to transfer to Madrid. It was a great experience, and in Madrid our first son was born. Two years later we returned to Tenerife.
I realized the advantages and benefits of living in the islands, no stress, a very pleasant climate, the kindness of the people.
From Madrid I came with a well-paid contract, working for Abbott Laboratories, a North American multinational dealing in pharmaceutical products and surgical equipment.
My father-in-law was a commander in the Civil Guard. He was a very strict but kindly man who always went to great lengths to converse with me when we were eating lunch or dinner together, perhaps, to help me acclimatize and not run off again to the mainland. Knowing of my enthusiasm for horses and dogs, he frequently spoke to me about them. He told me that when he was a lieutenant, he had been destined for a few years in Fuerteventura where he met a German, it appeared was a Nazi deserter, who was passionate about the island´s dogs, of how intelligent they were, how exceptional as guard dogs and defense, surpassing even the German Shepherd.
My father-in-law had no knowledge of dogs but knew about horses, having ridden for many years. When he spoke to me about the “Majoreros”, I wasn’t able to visualize these dogs. He didn’t mention the “Presas” at all.
Years later I came upon one of these puppies, which was sold to me for eight thousand pesetas, at the time, through a Mr Ramon Sosa Roger from Gran Tarajal, Fuerteventura; the dog was a light wolf grey colour, and as he came from Fuerteventura, I named him Major. Major was an exceptional dog, very brave, pugnacious and with an excellent guard instinct.
At that time, I was already heart and soul in the breeding of Presas.
Bobby and Piba were my first specimens of this type of dog. Bobby came from Arucas, and Piba from Juan Santana Bañaderos. I was convinced that I had two genuine Presa Canarios. My enthusiasm was such that I gave up everything to dedicate all my time to breeding and selling dogs, especially the Presas. It didn´t take me long to realize that the Presa Canario didn´t exist as a breed. In reality, there were no dogs of this type on any of the islands.
It was possible to find maybe one or two animals, which were the product of crosses between the German bulldog, Boxer, and the English bulldog but nothing else. Logical deception for me. But one was young, enthusiastic, and eager to create the Presa Canario. There was talk, it´s true, about this type of dog and dog fighting but this belonged to the past.
So, I began to write about the Presa Canario and this type of dog as though it were a breed, and I published those articles in the daily newspapers “El Dia” of Tenerife and the “Diario” of Las Palmas as well as “El Mundo del Perro” of Madrid. This went on for some time. The idea of the breed started to sink into the mind of the Canary citizens to such a point that it was accepted as an unquestionable part of the Canary Islands patrimony. This came about in part thanks to the fact that those dog fights existed and dogs had been reproduced for that activity.
Of course, with this explanation it may seem a simple process, but it wasn´t. One day using a tape measure, I measured Bobby. The height of the withers, the hindquarters, body length, cephalic perimeter, thoracic perimeter, length of the neck, perimeter of the neck, total length of the head, nasal tube, etc., etc. And the same with Piba. Later, I redacted a standard with the description of the dog. This project of the standard with photos of both dogs and maybe more, was published in the magazine Doggy People – I believe that was the name- thanks to my good friend Gabriel Palacio Villacampo of Barcelona.
Being in disagreement with the name change and modification of the standard, I, along with a number of breeders took the decision to continue breeding the Presa Canario unofficially, but strictly following the traditional breed blueprint.
Irema Curtó Kennels, in order to maintain some form of officialdom, proceeded to register the pedigree of its litters with the UKC (United Kennel Club) of the USA.
So, there was now a division, the Presa Canario continues its journey in one direction and the Dogo Cario, with a new standard and name in another.
Irema Curtó Kennels considers the morphological correction, the functionality and physical health to be more important than any other consideration. And when I speak of Irema Curtó Kennels I am speaking of myself. The canine exhibitions and dog shows are a secondary concern for us.
It can be verified over the years that dog shows are essential for the breeders of the Dogo Canario. I have no objection to this. Each individual or each club can do what they want to do with their animals. Everyone has their interests and hobbies.
But, before I finish, I would like to say that the dog with good morphology, good health, both physical and psychological, has more probabilities to obtain the first prize in a show than that animal that suffers from the defects that I have been informing about and warning against in my articles all these years; deviations, hip dysplasia (even the slightest), elbow dysplasia etc.,etc.,etc.
Manuel Curtó Gracia
Tenerife, 16 December 2014