In 2008 I had the opportunity to meet two "Fila" people who became my friends and with whom I've exchanged emails and learned a lot from, since. I met them both through a very well regarded friend and Fila person, Ines Van Damme. One is Fransisco "Chico" Peltier, presently a well known and very accessible living public personality, part of Fila history. But, back then, I had heard of him only through Fila books and the "O Fila" Boletins, now out of print. His notoriety was due to his whistle blowing about the illegal mixed breeding that happened in the 70's and 80's and the aiding, enabling and covering up the practice by official dog clubs of the time (still in operation), his efforts inspired a group of breeders, headed by the Fila Pioneer Paulo Santo Cruz, to organize and start an independent club called "Club for the Improvement of the Fila Brasileiro" known as CAFIB. At the time of our introduction he had been away from the breed for over a decade. His historically bold and thorough exposé of the misdeeds of breeders and authorities of those years, as well as the subsequent closing of his kennel and his withdrawal from active involvement in the Fila community, imbued him with a well-deserved status of a legend within the micro-cosmos of the Fila Brasileiro rare-breed community. To me, getting to meet Chico was pretty much like meeting a favorite writer, a sports idol or a celebrity.. As it turned out, he is a cool guy who has a great sense of humor, as well.
|Estrela Vale do Beraca ( Zulú do Engenho Velho x Aruaná de Bragança)|
photo canil Vale do Beraka
Coincidentally, both Chico and Donna had not been "professional" breeders. They produced 1 or 2 litters and had decided not to pursue the activity, each for their own very relevant reasons, but they remained dedicated to the breed, nonetheless. Both in their manner, also collected and organized a large and eclectic archive of the breed's history, and memorabilia which is a legacy that has the power to unite all people who admire the Fila breed.
|Ray's Candy Store, NYC, 2008 "Obama Specials"|
Among the few things that got me looking forward to another day were my conversations via email with Chico Peltier and Ines. At the time his archival website had just been put together and had recently been launched. He had hired a pro translator to put together some articles for the English language section of his site. A very well known Fila breeder had promised to translate some articles for his site, but had been put off for so long and taking way too much time, delaying the release of the site. So my introduction to Chico was made initially to get those translations finally moving.
Also at that time, Donna and her husband were hit by some very unusual and unexpected circumstances connected to the purchase of her cattle farm from a prominent Brazilian couple, it also involved her and her husband's naturalization in Brazil. The kind of stuff that would have been pretty terrifying for a native Brazilian, I can't even imagine going through what they did, without speaking or reading the language! They needed the help of a person that could translate things, also someone who was familiar with the Brazilian "way". I was concerned for them and made myself available to help. We kept in touch by email and Skype, until her communications started getting hacked later in the following year.
|Prize Brahman at the expo 2009 Belo Horizonte|
Unfortunately, we lost touch over the email hacking and the telephone connection difficulties, but finally after almost a year, I received notice from a friend that they had prevailed with court case and all the appeals. Once again, her email was "hacker free" and we were soon in touch again. Throughout this saga, Chico and I remained corresponding as well, and I must have translated at least 30 articles and blog posts for him!
|Fazenda Pedra Negra, Itanhandu, MG|
She picked me up at the Sao Lourenço Rodoviaria with her ranch-hand. She looked splendid and very active. I was also pleasantly surprised that she was speaking and understanding a little Portuguese, she had even hired a private portuguese teacher!
|Faz. Pedra Negra, Itanhandu, MG (prop. Donna and Larry Valentine)|
Dedication and love for the breed not withstanding, the biggest reason why Donna and Larry haven't pursued breeding is their concern about the health issues that plague the breed; a direct result of health clearances not being made a priority in breeding decisions for this breed as a whole. As years go by and their dogs get older, they experience their dog's discouraging hardships of hip and elbow displasia, skin issues and behavioral issues, among others. They have also gradually and increasingly kept away from the Fila "world", its shows and expos of which they were once honored participants. However, they still keep in contact with a handful of people they regard, coincidentally, some of which are also not involved in the Fila world for similar reasons.
Aside from the natural beauty of the location and the facilities, there is also a real Library building in the facility. A large building which houses shelves upon shelves filled with books on wildlife, reptiles, insects, horses and dogs. A very impressive sight! A treasure made up of collectors items and at least two decades worth of Fila collectables, documents and photos. Among them, documentation and photographs of the early Fila days in the USA, early days of Cafib in the USA; trips to kennels in Brazil; historical Cafib Analyses; dog periodicals and magazines, trophies and other relevant Fila-related things.
All admirers and lovers of this breed of dogs, are fortunate to have this dedicated league of people among us as powers of example, they are: those who do historical research based on fact; those who collect authentic historical documents and photographs; those who participate in the organizing and edification of breed clubs and associations for betterment and conservation of the breed; those who research about health, well being and reproduction including the science behind it in order to pave the way for responsible and healthy breeding. The common interest among these minds is in maintaining the legacy of this fantastic Brazilian dog breed, with that comes the responsibility of respect for its integrity. If not for this league of people, we wouldn't have had the information we have access to today, at the click of a mouse or tap of a finger. We might even have not had the dogs to begin with! Nor the possibility of breeding for correct type and temperament based on a historical and physical template, neither a proven system of evaluation and breeding based on a preservationist philosophy and most recently, a DNA databank of the breed (hopefully we may include a thorough investigation of inherited diseases with that).
During my last visit to Fazenda Pedra Negra, I was entrusted with a part of this legacy and the oral history behind it, organized and collected by the Valentines. To me, it is a special privilege and I am excited to share this experience with others through this blog in segments starting with periodicals and magazines. It will include pictures and translated portions in the articles and other items of interest. I've also started a tumbler account for the hundreds of snap shots of dogs in the USA and Brazil!
So let's start off here with periodicals..
© Copyright 2013 Fila411-USA
© Copyright 2013 Fila411-USA