The Visual Standard of the Fila Brasileiro Breed and Other Stories - Chapter 3
full text written by the founders, directors and judges of CAFIB
Américo Cardoso dos Santos Júnior
Luiz Antonio Maciel
THE EPIC OF FIGHTING MIX-BREEDING AND THE RESCUE OF THE PURE FILA VISUAL IMAGE
In this story, written in prose, but with the poetic spirit of the struggle for the rescue of a breed threatened with extinction by mix-breeding - a hazard that still lingers through the attempt to reintroduce, once again, in the breeding, animals that out of the standard -, we present and document all the facts and huge battles fought in the early years of this good struggle to deprecate mix-breeding, organize forms of struggle, dispute the right to establish an entity that could defend the pure Fila Brasileiro, disseminate technical knowledge and develop the unprecedented Visual Standard of our breed, in addition to a new and definitive written standard that not only thoroughly described a pure Fila but also pointed out the faults arising from mix-breeding, true evidence of a continuing crime that nearly destroyed, and still threatens, in other ways, the true Fila Brasileiro.
“The Filas cannot lose you!”
The bond established between the members of the group had become so strong that we did not accept that it would not continue and ended up dissolving. The students were touched by the melancholic comment made by veteran Dr. Paulo, when realizing, with some level of surprise, the enormous interest of his students towards the survival and the improvement of the breed, as well as towards the fight against the forgery of pedigrees: “I cannot lose you. The Fila Brasileiro breed cannot lose you”. His dream was that, in addition to going back to judging the Fila Exhibitions, those of his students would also become part of the BKC Panel of Judges, forming an elite troop committed to saving the breed from extinction and thus putting it back in its original condition of purity and homogeneity, in order to be able to improve it. At that time, CAFIB was still a committee linked to BKC and its most active members thought that they could still solve the serious problems of the Fila Brasileiro breed within the institutional channels of Brazilian cynophilia. Hence the proposal of Dr. Paulo to try to correct the problems with the performance of these new judges.
Of those 25 students, eight were interested in the continuity of the classes and, in addition to some meetings at the home of the talented visual artist Marilda Mallet; the meetings then took place every Friday at the Architecture and Construction office of architect Airton Campbell, established at Avenida Pedroso de Morais, more precisely at Praça Professor Resende Puech, 43, also in the Pinheiros district. There, every week - still unaware that we were starting a routine that would last for many years -, we discussed the problems arising from mix-breeding, made in a covert way, from the crossing of Fila Brasileiro female dogs with breeding studs from other breeds, mainly English Mastiff, Mastino Napoletano and Great Dane; the issuance, by the BKC, of pedigrees containing false genealogies; and the surprising variety of types and temperaments arising from the indiscriminate crossing between those already crossbreds, from different origins, generating an absolutely chaotic situation.
At that time, the group of students was strengthened by the participation of journalist Luiz Antonio Maciel, already a member of CAFIB, who designed and started to publish the very important bulletin "O Fila".
Thus, the course, which started in March 1978 and was expected to last two months in a classroom, ended up extending for more than a year, until April 1979, in addition to also including practical lessons, in visits to several kennels of Fila Brasileiro breeders and follow up on the judgments at the exhibitions.
The light that came with Aladdin
The realization of the sad situation in which the stock was found was generating a feeling of discouragement and Dr. Paulo himself saw, in the field, the vast extent of cross-breeding, and he came to think that the real Fila might no longer exist and that all his work for the recognition of the breed had been in vain.
Sensei Roberto Maruyama
The first big step towards, in practice, resuming the breeding of the pure Fila Brasileiro, took place on the day that Roberto Maruyama, upon returning from his beach house in Ubatuba, on the north coast of São Paulo, came across an advertisement painted on a wall on the banks of Via Dutra, the road that connects São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, approximately near Taubaté: "Tangará-Açu Kennel - Fila Brasileiro". When he interrupted the trip to visit that breeder, he was pleasantly surprised to find a very typical specimen, in perfect conformity with the characteristics of structure and temperament described and taught by the "Father of the Breed".
A few days later, in our first meeting after this discovery, Maruyama's detailed account of that dog, called Aladim from Fazenda Poço Vermelho, aroused such interest among all the members of the group, that it was agreed, for the following Saturday, a visit to that kennel, about 180 km from the capital. Once there, the team was received by the owner of the farm, a former military policeman called José Viana de Oliveira, who immediately showed us the specimen that had so excited Roberto Maruyama. And this same enthusiasm was expressed by Paulo Santos Cruz, who exclaimed: “Finally, an authentic Fila Brasileiro!”.
Evidently, several photographs were taken and one of them, by Maruyama, showing the head of Aladdin, with the typical expression of the breed, which combines sadness, gentleness and fierceness, became a true reference of a pure Fila. Stamped on the cover of the first "O Fila" newsletter, in December 1978, this photo went around the world and, reproduced or drawn, started to be used as a symbol, or logo, of several specialized kennels and clubs, including in other countries, such as Clube Onceiro, in the Czech Republic, and CAFIBE - Club de Amigos del Fila Brasileiro en España.
When we began to re-register the entire national breeding stock of the Fila Brasileiro breed from Phenotype and Temperament Analyses, Aladdin from Fazenda Poço Vermelho, emblematically, received the CAFIB SP 0001 registration. Under the guidance of Paulo Santos Cruz, Aladdin mated one of his daughters, very similar to him, called Ena from Tangará-Açu and, as agreed, the six cubs, born on September 3, 1978, were distributed to the members of CAFIB, who thus issued the registration of their first litter. (From this list of historical reminiscences, it is worth remembering that the registration CAFIB 0002 was granted to the dog Lord, owned by farmer José Gomes, from Varginha, in the south of Minas, where Paulo Santos Cruz had brought his first Fila female dog, which he called Lupe von Cadiz y Cadiz, and that had been the starting point of his Parnapuan Kennel).
New blood at CAFIB
The course was also important because it contributed with new blood to the Fila Brasileiro Improvement Committee. As reported above, several of the initial members of CAFIB resigned from their posts due to dissents or disagreements during the first activities of the group. In the second meeting, the participation of Roberto Maruyama in the position of Treasurer was approved, and Dr. Paulo appointed two of his students to be part of the group - Airton Campbell and Miguel Fernandes Galante, who assumed their posts at the third meeting, held on June 11, 1978. At the meeting on July 30, 1978 (fifth meeting), Dr. Paulo appointed two more students of the course, Américo Cardoso dos Santos Junior and Francisco José Magliocca, to also join CAFIB. Later on, breeder Marília Penteado Maruyama and veterinarian Pedro Germano were incorporated. Francisco Peltier de Queiroz was appointed representative in Europe, where he lived.
As time went by, some of these new members also gave up participating, and CAFIB's core group stabilized with Dr. Paulo, Fidalgo, Maciel, Airton, couple Roberto and Marília Maruyama, Américo and his wife Cleide Maria Cocito Cardoso dos Santos. All attended the meetings on equal terms, including Dr. Paulo, who contributed with his opinions in discussions on all topics and was given tasks like any other member, contrary to what is reported by ill-informed people who attribute to him the role of great leader of the Commission / Club and guider of the referees in the judgments at exhibitions, which, in fact, never occurred. Dr. Paulo always had an absolutely democratic participation in / at CAFIB, without imposing his points of view and accepting the decisions made by the majority. Obviously, due to his experience and knowledge, when the subject was technical, his arguments had greater weight.
It is important to remember that one of CAFIB's first proposals was the reopening of the RI (Initial Registration) for pure specimens, but which had no documentation, still found in rural areas, mainly in Minas Gerais and São Paulo. This measure, planned to be carried out according to strict criteria, was considered of utmost importance for the blood freshening of the small number of lineages to which the few typical registered dogs belonged; otherwise, a strong consanguinity would be inevitable, unplanned and not always desirable, among these few specimens. Even so, the proposal was not accepted by BKC, already in a first demonstration that, in practice, CAFIB did not have the promised carte blanche and that the battle was not going to be easy. It is still important to report that the evolved German cynophilia kept RI open and that, in 1978, at the Essen show, considered the most important in the German championship and judged by Christofer Habig, the Best Male of the Fila Brasileiro breed, Andador d'Alma Vedro, received from the hands of Chico Peltier, our representative in Europe, the CAFIB trophy, which would be disputed every year, to be definitely given to the exhibitor who won it for the third time.
The enthusiasm for the improvement of the breed grew and the date of December 3, 1978 marked the return of the “Father of the Fila Brasileiro Breed”, Paulo Santos Cruz, to the judgment tracks when he accepted the invitation of Clube Mineiro de Criadores de Fila Brasileiro to judge the 5th Specialized Exhibition of the Fila Brasileiro Breed, in Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais. As a result of the roundtable and negotiations with the “official” cynophilia summit, he had finally been reinstated to the panel of judges of the Brazil Kennel Club and - already recommending the future CAFIB Phenotype and Temperament Analyses, in which the dogs, after being thoroughly examined, are approved or rejected - he made a detailed assessment, in written summaries, of the qualities and failures of the 63 specimens exhibited, pointing out the cases of atypicality as a result of mix-breeding and recommending that they should not be used in reproduction.
This increasingly fierce struggle to rescue and improve the authentic Fila Brasileiro took another big step when the date for exams was finally set for April 28, 1979, so that the students of Dr. Paulo became BKC judges specialized in the Fila Brasileiro breed. These tests were carried out at the headquarters of Santos Kenel Clube, located at Av. Conselheiro Nébias, 601, in Santos, SP, and affiliated to Brasil Kennel Club (considered then the mater entity of Brazilian cynophilia). And the examining board was composed of three “all rounder” judges: Paulo Werneck (president of SKC), veterinarian Vicente Costa (who, later on, became a judge of CAFIB) and Oscar Miranda Filho (several times president of BKC and, at the time, holding the presidency of its Council of Referees), who had come from Rio de Janeiro determined to assess, with special rigor, the already somewhat controversial CAFIB candidates. Of the eight registered, five were approved: Airton Campbell, Américo Cardoso dos Santos Jr., Marilda Mallet, Marília Penteado Maruyama and Roberto Nobuhiko Maruyama.
On June 24, 1979, in the traditional Água Branca State Park (officially Parque Fernando Costa, started in 1905 and opened in 1929 in the capital of São Paulo), the newly formed judges Airton Campbell and Roberto Maruyama made their debut on the tracks when judging a Specialized Exhibition, promoted by Clube Paulista do Fila Brasileiro, affiliated to KCP and BKC.
The idea of the Visual Standard of the Fila Brasileiro
Several months before these exams for BKC's judge, during the period of the course, Dr. Paulo had had the idea of taking advantage of the talent of his student, the designer Marilda Mallet, specialist in painting portraits of dogs of the most diverse breeds, to produce an ideal Visual Pattern of the Fila Brasileiro. The objective was to elaborate an illustration, based on that first breed standard, dated 1951, showing the portrait of a perfect specimen in structure and typicality, so that, without different personal interpretations, everyone could have the same model as the unique reference of the absolutely correct Fila. Of course, during the judgment, the referee also needs to evaluate other attributes required by the written standard, but that the two-dimensional image of the drawing cannot show, such as scissors bite, complete dentition, loose skin, typical movement, with camel walking and trot with good terrain coverage, in addition, mainly, to the aversion to strangers, the firm nervous system and the impetuous attack.
The proposal was to portray the authentic Fila Brasileiro, showing exactly the phenotype of those dogs that Dr. Paulo acquired, decades before, mainly on farms in Minas Gerais, and took to Santos on board his car or on rented airplanes that he himself flew. The only certainty regarding the genealogy was the identification of the mothers, because the breeders themselves were not very interested in identifying and controlling the parents. Obviously, not all puppies, taken from Minas Gerais to Santos, became good adult specimens. As in the selection of any breed, there were successes and disappointments.
At the beginning of the breeding, due to the lack of selection on the farms, there was not much certainty about the genotype (genetic inheritance) of the specimens available. And dogs with the best phenotypes (physical expression of their genes) were not always available for purchase. In general, “fila” was what the farmer, interested in selling his litters, in the face of the growing demand from buyers in large cities, said as being a specimen of the breed. Thus, the visitor had to settle, for the most part, with puppies from litters whose origins were not very clear.
The important thing was the work of selection and improvement, in the sense of improving the racial characters, from studied mating, to correct problems of an originally very rich genetic material, but often with deficient individual expression.
Currently, many detractors of CAFIB reveal their bad character by distorting the true story, showing, on social media, the photographs of the inferior dogs of that time, as if they represented the ideal sought. They try to demoralize the Visual Standard of the Pure Fila by presenting these images, either to contest what the true Brazilian Fila would be, which we have been advocating and improving for more than 40 years, or to praise non-standard dogs, which would constitute an alleged original type , aboriginal or true. In fact, most of them, from what is deduced by the photos published, are nothing more than a generic canine type, without a lot of homogeneity, which has been reproduced in the hinterlands, in farms, ranches and yards, from random crossings with fila dogs and their successive descendants, hence the great diversity of phenotypes among the specimens, which makes it practically impossible to fit them into a single racial standard. This generic type is analogous to what, in the 1950's and 1960's, was popularly called a “police dog”, a lupoid, also somewhat heterogeneous, resulting from the mixture of several breeds with the German Shepherd and which, although it recalled some of its characteristics, was not, in fact, a “legitimate” specimen (as they said), although many of them had the functionality of watchdogs.
In the various excursions that CAFIB carried out in the rural areas of Minas Gerais and São Paulo, mainly in the 1980's, in search for pure farm filas, its judges found many specimens of this generic type, which had blood from the old “cabeçudos" (large heads), but they could not be considered as authentic representatives of the breed. They only looked - often only from a distance - like Filas. And so they were not incorporated into the breeding. When one of the group members questioned whether a dog was really a Fila, the farmer or rancher would simply say: "Here they are all filas".