ARTICLE PUBLISHED in “Economic News”
EL MUNDO newspaper (national circulation – Spain)
2020 June 14, Sunday
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Author: Federico Durán
David Colmenero raises some of the most sought-after dogs in the world in a remote corner of Jaén (Spain).
Australians, Filipinos, New Yorkers and Argentines travel to his house marveling at the beauty and intelligence of a genuinely Spanish dog.
David Colmenero had traveled to the Sierra de Segura (Jaén) to visit an olive oil cooperative. After a few years of success with clients in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Germany, his design and advertising studio had closed and he was trying to compose himself. During the wait, a shepherd appeared with his flock. It was steadily run by a jet black bitch. After a short chat, the shepherd led him to a corral filled with straw where several puppies frolicked. Colmenero remained one without knowing that at that precise moment he was turning his life a hundred and eighty degrees.
Ubbadat (Úbeda in Arabic) is the affix (surname) that this breeder uses for his spaniel, so esteemed that they come to look for them from California, New York, Argentina, Finland, Australia and the Philippines. Colmenero has applied his previous experience in a sector delivered too often to volume without guarantees, a practice that he openly censors.
“I raise 15 puppies a year in planned litters well in advance. I assign a maximum of four litters to my females, which are the basis of every good hatchery, throughout their lives and I remove them at six years, and then I decide if they stay at home or leave with a family ”, tells this 43-year-old jiennese.
“This is not a factory, but a selection of the breed”.
Used in rescue operations, against drug trafficking and even with autistic children, the water dogs (also known as Andalusian Turks) come from the mountains of Cádiz, Ronda, Málaga and Jaén and from the marshes of the Guadalquivir, where the fishermen took their services given its agile character, medium size, deep loyalty and extreme intelligence. They say that a shepherd could go down to town to drink his carajillo without worrying about a stranger trying to steal from the guardian: such is the distrust of the race that they will never approach a stranger.
There are those who sell puppies for 100 or 200 euros, but the pedigree, the genetic studies and the guarantees of the after-sales service make the difference between the cheap philosophy and a premium proposal.
“There are actually 20 spanish water dog real breeders in Spain. And everyone deserves my respect. If people only adopted, the races would be lost. The dogs descend from the wolf and the human being worked with the most domesticated wolves and assigned them to certain tasks (guard, herding, guide dogs). All carry out their function, which is what has changed their character and morphology over the years. If we prohibit breeding led by animal tendencies, there will be no specialist dogs and then they will miss us. Who is going to find the hikers buried in a snow avalanche? ”
Colmenero thinks and feels like a luthier. When his dogs are born, he weighs them, blesses them, and names them. Although from the age of 12 he trained German shepherds out of pure passion, when he turned to this activity he chose an indigenous breed because it is in the original country where the best specimens are always found.
In the pursuit of perfection, there are three combinable paths: inbreeding (crossings of very close relatives, usually parents and children or siblings with each other), linebreeding (third or fourth line related dogs) and outcross ( no genetic connection). The first path is punctual and the third irregular, as it produces a “sawtooth” that will throw some very good puppies and others poor in characteristics, so the serious breeder generally resorts to the second path.
“There are people who have saved for a year to buy a dog for me and have come from Madrid and Barcelona spending the money they don’t have on gasoline. Whoever calls asking directly how much my dogs are worth is not the right customer. My client is the one who explains to me who he is, where he lives, why he wants it; a person who knows that they acquire a dog with a higher value than the average and with a permanent guarantee against any genetic disease ”.
The income-expense equation is not always what it seems. Colmenero is a craftsman listed throughout the planet, but he does not seek economic performance but excellence. He still accepts assignments as a freelance designer from his house in the middle of the field, a place where he suffered the cold and the shortage but that also allowed him to meet again and forge an inalienable ethic.
“Dogs at a minimum have to pay for themselves. Business logic does not hold up in the canine universe. “
His motivation is different: he pursues the perfection of an already quite round breed, a breed that enjoys impressive recognition and has pushed breeders from as far away as Lapland to export it.
“The best is not the most beautiful. The exhibitions have become a show. You will never see a breeder with 30 years of experience there. ”