It’s 10:00 am, Thursday, November 10, 2011. There’s a lively atmosphere at the Eduardo Saborit Sports Complex (former Dog-Track of Havana). Owners or handlers and their dogs are waiting for the International Autumn Dog Show to begin. The event is organized by the Dog Federation of Cuba, which has as its main objective the genetic study of each breed for development and reproduction purposes.
According to the “temperament” of the dog and the nature of the training received, some dogs are relaxed and calm, somewhat distant from the bustle around them. Others seem tense, as if wanting to release all their stored energy. A few are unable to control the stress due to the proximity of so many fellow dogs. All, however, complete a set of requirements—pedigree, training and good health—that allow them to participate in competitions of this nature.
Over two hundred dogs will be tested by international judges from Cuba, Canada, Colombia, Slovenia and Mexico, who will award titles in the categories of Cuban, American and Caribbean champions, and Pan-American and international beauty champions. Dobermans, German shepherds, boxers, Rottweilers, schnauzers, terriers, spaniels, greyhounds, bulldogs, poodles, Dalmatians, fox terriers, Rhodesian ridgebacks, bichon Havanese…to around forty different breeds will compete for prizes and titles based on their show qualities or training, obedience and appearance, which include shape of head, placement of ears, color, gait and texture of coat. The competition seeks to discover which dogs come closer to the standards set by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, the ruling body for dogs and dog shows in many countries, of which Cuba is a member since 1987.
Although experts repeat over and over again that dogs do not compete with each other and each one is evaluated according to its characteristics, many owners or handlers measure up the possibilities of their “rivals,” especially newcomers to this type of events, which take place in the spring, summer, fall and winter—the national events at the Parque Metropolitano and the international events at the Eduardo Saborit Complex. In addition, each breed has its own competition, which is organized by the respective clubs.
The large and enthusiastic crowd does not tire from admiring the beautiful and well-groomed specimens, or from making their own predictions. Who will accumulate more points today? The restless Dalmatian? The impassive German shepherd? The cheerful and long-haired Havanese, or the poodle of German origin but naturalized French? For now, we wish dogs and handlers the best of luck and hope to see them again at the biannual International Winter Dog Show.