REDISCOVER THE REAL LHASSA

Quite an event took place in the dog-world in spring 2006 in France. Five Lhasa-apso puppies were born of pure Tibetan origin, both by the mother and the father.

This brings great hope for real connoisseurs. To have found the origins of a race witch has fascinated the western world for more than 70 years but which has been largely spoiled by selection abuse, has given new vigour and enables interesting observations to be made.

This unique experience was made possible through the initiative of Mrs Masset, well known breeder of Tibetan races for over 30 years.

Mrs Masset, as well as Mr Masset, both close to Buddhist philosophy, have always had very close links with Tibetan religious circles. They were invited to religious ceremonies in Nepal and in India and travelled in the same aeroplane as the religious leaders who accompanied the remains of the Tibetan master Kaudoum, head of the Nigmapa School, back to the Bothna monastery. 

These relations, exceptional for such a closed society, enabled Mrs Masset to obtain a small bitch from Sikkim.
pema avec son boudha
pema avec son boudha
 
It is from this bitch, coupled with a Tibetan male belonging to Mr D'Aoust, that Mrs Masset had the joy to obtain a litter of five puppies (3 males and 2 females).

From interesting observations made since their birth until their fifth month it has been established that it is with this type of dog that the first standard of the Kennel Club was established in 1935. Everyone knows that over the period of 70 years the standard has been adapted to the evolution of the dog. It is both regrettable and inevitable. Fashion and mentalities considerably changed after the end of the Second World War, and dogs along with everything else suffered the consequences. Show replaced dog exhibitions and types of race were taken over by hyper types. It was the end of authenticity. Added to that in order to obtain these exceptional results the most unpleasant constraints have been imposed on that which is considered as man's best friend.

But excess finishes in self-destruction. During the last thirty years Lhasa Apso breeders have had just one word in their mouths: improve, we must improve, we have improved. It has been forgotten that these dogs belonged to another culture.

It seems that today things have changed:  now the time is for moderation and modesty. Environment, ecology, respect of nature is the words of the day. Ever since the ban on cutting ears and tails in some races a new look at these changes is necessary.

b fo 07 2006
b fo 07 2006

In the case of the Lhasa Apso the eye has been altered by too opulent fur. One should keep to the spirit: understand that if nature has given to the race this double protection of hair and under-hair, it is not to have a wavy effect but to combat the harsh climate of its country of origin. This dog belongs to another culture than ours but we have adapted it to our western tastes.Today as we become conscious of the disastrous effects of the excesses committed to the planet on a world-wide scale, we must change our behaviour in many areas of our environment.

The dog is an example close to us that can help us to measure, without great scientific knowledge but through simple observation, the changes which have taken place in living species controlled by the hand of the man.

Carried away the success of this race in dog exhibitions in these last t thirty years, few have wondered if this dog, shaped to a western model , was still the small rustic animal of the Himalayas so appreciated by the Tibetans.

Preservation of the species was not the main preoccupation of the period. That is why today, with this return to the source of the race and the promise of pure lines if descendants, one cannot help feeling particularly moved; to go back 70 years and discover in these puppies the first dogs of this race to be introduced in England by Mrs Bailey or in America by Mr Cutting.

This promise of opening a pure Tibetan line which is the aim of Mrs Masset, can leave no-one indifferent. This return to the source in the present context is most enriching.

b'fo et son concurent
b'fo et son concurent
LET US TAKE GOOD CARE OF THEM

In 1937, when Mr Cutting returned to Lhasa with his wife, the 13th Dalai Lama having passed away just before they arrived, it was the Regent who offered them a couple of golden Apsos ( Pema and Lee ) with a letter ( dated the 7 th of the first Tibetan month of the year of the Water Bird ) , which said : " I am sending you two dogs with Kalimpong. Take great care of them".

It is to be feared that this testamentary sentence was only understood a t the first degree.

"Take great care of them "did not only refer to their material needs. Indeed this dog reflects a country where the spiritual is more important than the material, where spirituality permeates man but also animals. This spirituality confers an allure and an aristocratic expression which has disappeared from the Lhasa of today.

b'fo à la maison
b'fo à la maison
The Characteristics of the Lhasa We asked Hélène Massed to explain what the Lhasa Apso was like originally. "The real Lhasa walks on tiptoe, with little steps. Even when running it tales little steps. This is because of its surroundings, the mountains. Hounds take big strides, for usually they live in big open spaces. The Lhasa walks almost like a dancer, it seems to fly. When it walks, from behind, one cannot see its pads, even when it runs. The angle of the hind legs is very pronounced, which helps it to get a foothold in the mountains. The pout is another characteristic of the Lhasa; the bottom lip turns up. The Lhasa has a small, slightly tuned-up, nose, a pronounced stop and little oval almond-shaped eyes.

Nowadays one sees dogs with big haunches, long legs, large necks and totally different gait; it is no longer the Lhasa. Some dogs even learn to walk on moving carpets which transforms their movements giving them an exaggerated allure in the ring. The small Lhasa is the most favoured but the bigger ones are of the same type, always with this characteristic gait. The mist common Lhasa in Tibet is steel-grey or grey. There are also white, golden and two-coloured. The genuine Lhasa adult has a beard falling around its neck, a kind of mane. It is for this reason that it is called the Lion Dog (Sengki).

A Tibetan legend recalls that a Lhasa Apso was born from the first egg laid by an eagle. For the Tibetans the Lhasa is a working dog: it guarded the corn lofts in the temples and is also the dog of the sherpas. In the mountains the Sherpa use the Lhasa for avalanche detection owing to their sharp hearing. A well-known Sherpa, Tenzing, raised Lhasa Apso for the mountaineers. The genuine Lhasa does not suffer from the cold. The dogs of today would not live a week in Tibet. The Lhasa is very rustic and very refined. It is a small dog, heavy but of a small volume. The Lhasa is not a sacred dog. In Tibet nothing is sacred: "man and the animal are identical".

Text from Mrs Yolande De Zarobe / VCM 12.2006
Translation by Mary Petit for Frederique Chancel-Aguirre
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b fo from pema
b fo from pema
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