KARACHI: Mangal Bagh is salivating over Atiqa Odho and she loves it. The beauty expert runs a brush over the Rottweiler’s back to get a loving look in return. The tongue lolls out. Mummy smiles back. They know they’re going to win.
And indeed Mangal Bagh did win, as did many others on the sunny Sunday at the Kennel Club of Pakistan where the Rottweiler Club of Pakistan held its eighth national show. The club is relatively new, but over 35 sleek, muscled dogs and their equally preened owners turned up to take part. The aim is to have up to 300 in Pakistan in a few years.
“The goal is to discredit the huge fallacy about the aggressive nature of the dog,” said the club’s president Subak Majeed, “to improve the breed and the standard of the dog in Pakistan and also to teach owners techniques to help socialise these dogs and improve their temperament.”
Testament to the dogs and their owners was the fact that there was no barking in the preparation backyard where the dogs shared a space. Everyone was on a tight leash but there was no snarling. One entrant did attempt to mark his territory by making a genetic deposit on the shamiana but it quickly dried up and no one was the wiser. Children sipped juice and chomped on chips, a baby in a pram offered to take photos with the pups for a television channel. Young men with hair as stiff as a dog’s tail smoked cigarettes and fast-talked their way through the politics of the pooches.
The judge was Mirza Saif Baig and Badr Hassan slipped into the role of ring steward. RCP Show committee chairman Ali Chottani organised the event. The competition was divided in categories defined by the age and sex of the dog. A few entrants from out of Karachi failed to make it and some categories only had one tail to go around. “It’s a tough class, a tough class,” murmured Odho from the audience as one round went in. “Look at number 3 in line.” The muscle proved many hours of training as they rippled underneath the sheen.
Bester was brought by owner Owais Qarni to compete in the open-class male category. While Qarni pitched the pup as an excellent choice for a guard dog, he added, “He is a very friendly dog and my seven-year-old daughter plays with him and he is very protective of her.” Mojo’s owner Nader Hussain came with his two children, who were less concerned about the ring than with playing with the dog. Indeed, the club is at pains to get the message across that the Rottweilers have been given a bad name. It all depends on the owner and handler to bring out the best. Some people keep Rottweilers “for ego” as Odho put it while talking about the ways in which things can go wrong. “It is the owner’s responsibility,” she stressed, citing the example that she can immediately tell if something is wrong because her dog’s temperament changes.
The Rottweiler is an ancient breed, dating back to the time of the Romans. It helped butchers cart meat to the market and was also thus known as a butcher’s dog. They have relatively low hunting instinct, however, and today are used in search and rescue roles, as guide dogs, as guard or police dogs.
Sunday’s winners included Ivet Carna Cizma for best female, owned by Subak Majeed and Aldo for best junior male owned by Shaham Ali Khan. Other winners were Icon vom Schwarz and Face vom Haingraben. The handlers, who had spent the afternoon picking fluff off coats and flinging balls into the air, were highly appreciated for keeping a tight hold on the dogs and showing them for over five hours.
“The owners dealing with this breed have to be trained better than the dogs,” remarked Odho, who admitted to taking six dogs with her in her “jahaiz” when she got married. “It was love me, love my dog.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2011.