The Visual Standard of the Fila Brasileiro Breed and Other Stories - Chapter 4
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.
An unprecedented poster
The work of Visual Standard began in June 1978, under the guidance of the master Paulo Santos Cruz, who was based, in addition to the countless specimens he had observed in his travels throughout Minas Gerais, also in his vivid memories of so many Filas bred in the Parnapuan Kennel and, also, the outstanding participants of the many exhibitions he had judged. He counted on the collaboration of his students from the course and from CAFIB, who gave their opinion on details of the design to provide more realism to the shape and make it more in accordance with the standard, which designer Marilda Mallet, who always was very involved with the work, or art advisor, Dr. Paulo, could see. In general, visual artists, as well as writers and copywriters, often fail to see their own mistakes. Hence the need for a reviewer or an observer not so involved with the work, a collaboration that was performed by the group of students, among them the founders of CAFIB, Airton Campbell, Américo Cardoso dos Santos Júnior, Marília Penteado Maruyama and Roberto Nobuhiko Maruyama.
The design, which showed the shape of a pure Fila Brasileiro, standing and in profile, besides containing a detail, with the dog's head, seen from the front, was finally finished in December. From the finished illustration, CAFIB, which had obtained the sponsorship of Purina to publish advertisements on the last pages of newsletter "O Fila" (launched in December 1978), which in fact occurred as of number 2 (January 1979), managed to convince the feed company to print the Visual Standard in poster format, with the prestige of its trademark (logo) in the lower right corner. This traditional animal feed company had been founded in 1894, in the United States (with the name of Robinson-Danforth Commission Company, changed to Ralston Purina in 1902), had arrived in Brazil in 1967 and would be purchased by Nestlé in 2001. The negotiations and the time required for Purina's advertising agency to prepare the material took some time, until, at the end of the first quarter of 1979, the poster was finally released.
Printed on special glazed paper, measuring 60.8 cm by 46 cm, it transcribed, in the footer, the text of the breed standard approved by the BKC's Federal Council in May 1976, during a symposium in Brasília. Despite making several restrictions to certain aspects of this document, which had changed the original standard, from 1951, to favor the inclusion of the numerous crossbred specimens registered as Filas, CAFIB agreed with Purina, which insisted on publishing the official standard of the breed. And the only one then existing was the one recognized by BKC and FCI, entities with which the company had a long relationship of promotions and advertising. Without the official standard, Purina would not print the poster. CAFIB, reluctantly, had no option but to yield to the requirement. The advantage was that, despite the mix-breeding characters contained in the written standard, the look was that of a pure Fila Brasileiro.
Thus, the designs of the Fila in profile and of the detail of the head were released to be published in the newsletter "O Fila". They appeared on the cover of number 5, Year I, of April 1979 (one month after CAFIB celebrated a year of activity), with the title “The visual standard of pure Fila”. And on page 11 an article was published about it, stating that “...after more than six months of work by designer Marilda Mallet, under the guidance of Dr. Paulo Santos Cruz, the Fila Brasileiro Improvement Committee has just launched the visual standard of the pure Fila Brasileiro with sponsorship from the Purina feed industry”.
To this day, this visual standard continues to be strictly followed by CAFIB's judges and by many others around the world. In other words, throughout more than four decades, the best specimen of the breed has always been the most similar one to the design printed on the poster, as evidenced by the photographs of dogs that illustrate this text.
CAFIB - PHOTOS OF TYPICAL FILAS
This Chapter 4 of the History of the Visual Standard of the Fila Brasileiro, which tells, comprehensively, the process of elaborating the figure of the ideal specimen, is illustrated with a sequence of photographs covering more than 40 years of CAFIB's work. And it confirms the old maxim “an image is worth a thousand words”, demonstrating that the outstanding specimens, from the beginning of our selection until today, present exactly the same phenotype that we have always advocated, regardless of some eventual (and inevitable) shortages in structure.
The first photo, emblematically, is that of Aladim da Fazenda Poço Vermelho, born on August 15, 1972; therefore, almost half a century ago, and whose discovery was reported in the previous chapter. In addition to having been the first specimen registered by CAFIB, he was also the stud of our first litter. In this chapter, we tell you about the facts that involved the publication of the Visual Standard in which Aladdin served as a model, as well as his participation in the 1979 Calendar launched by the secular North American multinational Purina, purchased in 2001 by the also secular Swiss multinational Nestlé. As a historical record, it is worth remembering that Aladim's brother, Balaio da Fazenda Poço Vermelho, owned by Fernando Zanetti Coeli, was also an expressive breeder of that time, having been the father of the first litter registered by the Parque do Castelo Kennel, owned by Rosely and Airton Campbell, whose matrix was Lorota da Colina.
Timbó do Aquenta Sol was born in Varginha, MG, in the breeding area of José Hamilton Alves Pereira, awarded with the title of Breeder of the Year in 1983. Gigante da Jaguara illustrates the pioneering work of English breeder William Frederick Chalmers (1921 - 2002), based in Pedro Leopoldo, MG, at the historic Fazenda Jaguara, founded in 1724. Guaxupé Piedras de Afilar, bred by Uruguayan Daniel Balsas, attests to the well-conducted genetic improvement program of Fila Brasileiro in other countries as well. Jupiter do Ibituruna exemplifies the high quality of specimens born in the kennel of the radiologist doctor dr. Paulo Angotti, one of the biggest title holders of our championships. Forte do Parque do Castelo concentrates the blood of the main farm Filas found by CAFIB in the early 1980's, as he is the son of Leão (bred by the pioneer João Costa, from Itanhandu, MG) in Amandi do Araguaya (daughter of Sultão, bred by also pioneer José Gomes, from Varginha, MG).
And we cannot fail to highlight that some old breeders, who after leaving, such as Antônio Carlos Linhares Borges (Caramonã Kennel), Carlos do Amaral Cintra Filho (Amparo Kennel) and the aforementioned Fernando Zanetti (the latter two having been Presidents of CAFIB ), although today they are in a position of antagonism with us; they used to breed good dogs, in accordance with our Standard, as can be seen in this sequence of photos. Zabelê do Caramonã presents excellent typicity and structure and Nagan do Amparo was, twice, CAFIB Brazilian Champion.
Lampião do Alto Quatis demonstrates the excellent level of the award-winning stock of Half Fonseca Marassi in Vale do Paraíba Fluminense. Major V Guardiães do Caracu was bred by CAFIB judge Marcus Flávio Vilasboas Moreira, also a cattle rancher and traditional Caracu cattle picker in Nova Serrana, MG. He and his partner, José Wilson Vilella, from Campo Belo, MG, are the owners of the Guardiães do Caracu Kennel and, in our 2019 World Championship, won the Breeder of the Year and Exhibitor of the Year awards.
We emphasize that the only female in this gallery, Areia de São José da Lapa, bred by Olegário Bretas Ferreira, from Belo Horizonte, MG, was European Champion in 2004, showing that the judges from the old continent, when judging the Fila Brasileiro, base themselves on the CAFIB Standard. Pacará do Itanhandu, owned by Cíntia and Gerson Junqueira de Barros, represents the most awarded kennel in the history of CAFIB, with over 50 adult breeding dogs. This note would not fit the entire list of awards and titles received by Itanhandu Kennel, but it is necessary to register the achievement, for 11 consecutive years (from 2008 to 2018), of the Breeder of the Year and Exhibitor of the Year trophies. And our exhibitions held there, at Fazenda Guapiara, the breeder's headquarters, have broken records of registrations, with 100 or more Filas on the track. To close, coming from Aparecida de Goiânia, GO, Lyoto Fila Roots, owned by Alessandro Castro Bueno, in addition to being awarded the title of Temperament of the Year, was also crowned World Champion in 2019. That championship, held throughout the year in several cities in the national territory and abroad, had the participation of 443 Filas from Brasil, Uruguay, Argentina and Spain.
A standard with absences by mix-breeding
The question of the breed standard, raised by Purina, as well as the growing disagreements with BKC in relation to the registration of crossbred animals, led CAFIB to speed up the elaboration of a more complete and detailed standard that would describe the characters of a pure Brazilian Fila and include absences by mix-breeding. So much so that the issue number 5 (April 1979) of the "O Fila" newsletter went ahead and announced: “CAFIB is already working on the development of a new standard, which shall be published in due course by 'O Fila' ”.
Curiously, shortly afterwards, in May 1979, a surprising fact took place. Dr. Paulo received, at his residence, in the city of Santos, a group made up of the president of BKC, Ayrton Schaeffer, its directors, Eugênio Henrique Pereira de Lucena and José Maurício Machline, journalist Antônio Carvalho Mendes and biologist Oswaldo Fidalgo, who reported the meeting to the newspaper "O Estado de São Paulo", in the July 26 "Cinofilia" column. In that text, Fidalgo reveals his surprise at these three BKC leaders praising the work of CAFIB, "...of a high technical level and a lot higher than that of all the clubs specialized in the Fila Brasileiro breed together...". They invited Dr. Paulo to join an advisory committee of BKC and, in view of his astonishment, Lucena, in addition to saying that the repudiation recently declared by Brazil Kennel Club to CAFIB would be withdrawn, asked him for a solution to the problem of mix-breeding because, in Colonel Schaeffer's words, "After all the crossbreds are there, they continue to breed and one can't kill them all." Dr. Paulo then suggested including in a new breed standard, such as disqualifying faults, evidence of cross-breeding. And, given the agreement on the part of BKC's directors, he hastened his studies on the new written standard, already under discussion and under preparation by all CAFIB members, under his guidance, and then forwarded it to the applicants.
For the production of this written standard, the technical work “How to distinguish a pure Fila from a crossbred” was of the essence, with great repercussion in Brazilian and international cynophilia, written by Dr. Paulo Santos Cruz for the first issue of "O Fila", released in December 1978. The article was ruled by Editor Luiz Antonio Maciel for Dr. Paulo as the inaugural “bomb” subject of the CAFIB bulletin. Until that moment, there was a diffuse idea of cross-breeding and the identification of its characteristics, not only among Fila owners and breeders, but even among judges, except for those who practiced it and knew well the phenotypic and temperament transformations that they had caused to the breed.
A frequent fact was that many owners thought their dog was pure, but that of another exhibitor was crossbred, without being able to explain the technical criteria of this finding. In many cases, both dogs were crossed, but each owner always considered "the other" a crossbred. One cause for this confusion was the fact that one, for example, was a crossbreed from the English Mastiff, and the other, from the Great Dane, with different phenotypes, in a stock with no racial uniformity due to wide cross-breeding. In that article, Dr. Paulo examined, from detail to detail, the differences between the phenotype, temperament and nervous system of a pure Fila Brasileiro and a crossbred, from the crossings, basically, with English Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff and Great Dane, allowing judges and breeders to identify faults by mix-breeding. For this reason, the new Fila Brasileiro Breed Standard, developed by CAFIB to be adopted at all exhibitions, mainly with the intention of combating mix-breeding, presented a much more specific and complete text than usual and, in addition to the General Disqualifications, listed , also, the Disqualifications due to Mix-Breeding, detailing, in three topics, the absences resulting from the crossings with Neapolitan Mastiff, with Great Dane and with English Mastiff, according to the explanations given by Paulo Santos Cruz.
Greed for the Visual Standard
In that first semester of 1979, BKC, impressed by the huge repercussion of the CAFIB Visual Standard, which at that point no longer had the participation of representatives from BKC / KCP / CPFB, as already mentioned above, questioned the president of CPFB - Clube Paulista of the Fila Brasileiro, Armando de Souza Reis, known as “Armandão”, for having allowed that, with this feat, his entity, older than CAFIB, had been left behind by the active one, and already somewhat frowned upon, Commission.
Purina's Marketing Department then consulted CAFIB's directors about the possibility of printing another 3,000 copies of this poster, at the request of Armandão, but now also stamping the logos of BKC and Clube Paulista do Fila Brasileiro and expanding its distribution throughout the entire national territory. This proposal was widely discussed by CAFIB's leaders, considering the enormous meticulousness of our work over more than six months, patiently perfected by countless successive small changes and corrections, suggested by Dr. Paulo and his students, and carried out with care by the artist.
When rejecting the proposal, CAFIB also took into account the aforementioned marathon undertaken by the “Father of the Breed” who, every week, at the end of Friday afternoon, faced the various stages of the journey from his home to São Paulo. He arrived at the meeting place at around 7 pm and, between 10 pm and 11 pm, he took the opposite route to return to his residence in Santos. Often, he stayed until just before midnight, closing time of the subway, and was taken by car to Paraíso station by Roberto Maruyama, who then returned to the meeting where, often, the group stayed until early dawn. Dr. Paulo followed this routine for almost 12 years.
It is worth noting that, some time after we rejected that proposal from BKC and CPFB to insert their logos on the poster, some members of CAFIB even considered that their eventual acceptance might have meant an endorsement of the official cynophilia to our Standard. But, regardless of theoretical speculations, the intense practical experience in the breeding and selection of the breed showed us that, certainly, Fila Brasileiro is always, and only, CAFIB.
The pure Fila Brasileiro in Purina's calendar
Still in 1979, Purina launched, in the United States, a beautiful calendar, called “Dogs from Around the World”, with photographs of 12 canine breeds, originating from different countries, one for each month of the year. Here in Brazil, the company decided to replace one of these dogs with a representative of a national breed and decided that the image to illustrate the leaf for the month of December would be that of a Fila Brasileiro. Aware of the cross-breeding problem, Purina's Product Manager, Bernard Higgins, asked CAFIB for guidance in choosing a typical specimen in a very Brazilian rural setting. After a lot of research on historical sites in the Taubaté region, with the help of the owner of the Tangará-Açu Kennel, we found the ideal setting on a century-old farm in the Paraíba Valley and, once again, our official “model”, Aladdin from Fazenda Poço Vermelho - now through the lens of professional photographers and under the supervision of an art director -, “posed” for hundreds of images in different environments of the property.
The difficult choice of the best photo was made by Paulo Santos Cruz, admittedly the greatest authority on the breed, who ended up opting for the image that showed the dog sitting in the sun, with an old corral and some cattle in the background. He also wrote a short text, as a photo caption, which ended up being sent to Purina's headquarters in the United States, so that it could be included in calendars edited in other countries.