Cuban stray dogs might well have been the inspiration or Walt Disney’s leading male character in The Lady and the Tramp because, more than a dog, this character is as fast and smart as a lynx: he knows it all.

He has even been known to go to extraordinary lengths; there are stories of him climbing high walls to please the “girl” of his dreams.

Cuban stray dogs might well have been the inspiration or Walt Disney’s leading male character in The Lady and the Tramp because, more than a dog, this character is as fast and smart as a lynx: he knows it all.He will do pirouettes in return for a piece of bread; he knows where to protect himself from rain and cold.

That is the kind of dog you will see wandering along Cuban streets: always elegant and ready for action. But, what is it called?

The same way the names of Cuban children are ever more complex and hard to be pronounced, pets, especially dogs, are often named after a person.

The days when dogs were named Pluto, Rintin, Lobo or Manchi are long-gone… Today no one ever cares anymore whether they are named Dalí, Frida, Bruno or Tanya.

Someone with great imagination and sense of humor named his two Pekinese dogs Napoleon and Josephine, without caring about how contradictory it would be to name two little animals after such noble figures.

A Cuban writer named her dachshund Electra, while Natalia was the name of famous Cuban writer Leonardo Pardura’s dog. Not to mention the name of this writer’s dog: José Cemí, named after the leading character of Lezama Lima’s famous novel Paradiso.

Both Natalia and Cemi were stray dogs that hit the jackpot. They are not pedigrees but crossbreeds.

There are a number of exceptions to the rule when it comes to pets.

Pedigree dogs have been in fashion lately, even if they are not full-blooded.

There are families who spend small fortunes in those dogs; yet, sato dogs (mixed breeds) are often the most loyal and friendly.

The famous Cuban poet Miguel Barnet, the author of Biografía de un cimarrón, is the happy owner of 13 Chihuahua dogs that descended from the winner of its breed in the Dominican Republic. The outstanding Cuban painter Arturo Montoto and his wife have twice as many dogs.

They look after 26 dogs out of charity, with the conviction that the more defenseless animals are, the more men are obliged to protect them from human cruelty.

But no one has ever outdone poet Dulce María Loynaz, the Miguel de Cervantes Literature Prize winner. The author of Jardín ran her own dog refuge at her farm La Misericordia, on the outskirts of Havana.

She secretly created a paradise for stray dogs.

The Cuban Association for Animal and Plant Protection declared April 10 the Day of the Dog.

However, the whole year should be considered dog’s day, for people to care not only for their own dogs but for all dogs.

Providing them with food and shelter is not enough.

It is also important to make them feel that they are beloved and cared for.

They feel and identify with our states of mind, and are able to understand everything we tell them. Similarly, they are able to respond and transmit to us what they want or need.

One more thing: stray dogs in Havana are multilingual. You will see a reaction regardless of the language you speak.

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