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Cuban puppy S.O.S.

Cubita-Icon-87x75-1Meet Cubita, our gal pal, mascot and inspiration for Cuba Explorer’s logo.

We were thrilled to welcome Cubita to our team in March 2011. She provided of ongoing inspiration and companionship.

We fell in love with her at first glance, and she with us. We couldn’t shake her or visa versa.

Her attributes are a kind demeanor, an upbeat attitude and total cuteness. Plus she’s extra friendly. Her background embraces features of Cuban life and history spanning three millennia.

She was accidentally abandoned when her family, in the sleepy village of Colón in the province of Matanzas, moved to Ciego de Ávila for new employment.

Fluke rendered her without shelter and hungry – not on account of her former family’s ill intentions – she was nowhere to be found on moving day.

Cubita readies for her morning walk in Havana’s Parque Metropolitano in spring 2011. She is our new best friend and island mascot. She was abandoned accidentally. we adopted her.

Cubita readies for her morning walk in Havana’s Parque Metropolitano in spring 2011. She is our new best friend and island mascot. She was abandoned accidentally. We adopted her.

Cubita’s tale

When Cubita’s family was all packed and their moving truck ready to roll, Cubita was absent. The kids called out for her for several hours and delayed travel. Cubita didn’t respond. As darkness approached the parents had no choice but to go. The truck was expensive and every hour’s delay added to their costs. They lived on a meager stipend.

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Young Cuban pup champ Dannys Valido Hernandez rescued Cubita from an uncertain fate at the urging of our tour guests.

The children cried. The parents agonized.

The family left no contact information with their neighbors. Perhaps someday we’ll locate them. We’re working on it. We’d sure like those kids to reconnect with their precious Cubita.

The neighbors begged us to adopt Cubita because they all had pets and weren’t able to take on another hungry mouth to feed.

Dannys didn’t think twice. He hoisted Cubita into his arms. She gave him plenty of grateful licks. He rushed to get her some snacks (fried bananas and pork rinds were all available at the time). She scarfed them up. He put her on our tour bus, and took Cubita home with him to Havana. Cubita lives with Dannys now. She is his new best pal.

Today Cubita is a big city dog. She fits in well as her natural colorings – a punkish orange-yellow topnotch and matching tail bob combined with an otherwise hairless beautiful blue-black look – makes her a canine fashion star among cosmopolitan pups and people alike.

Cubita descends from a rare species of dog existing only in the Caribbean and México. Shown above is replica of a pre-Columbian clay statue found in a royal burial chamber at the Mexican site of Teotihuacan (circa 500 CE) – clearly loving and playful. Based on artifacts from across the region, it is assumed the Xoloitzcuintli or Xolo was domesticated some 3000 years ago from the wolf.

Cubita descends from a rare species of dog existing only in the Caribbean and México. Above is a pre-Columbian clay statue found in a royal burial chamber at Teotihuacan México (circa 500 CE). The Xoloitzcuintli was domesticated some 3000 years ago from the wolf.

About American hairless dogs

Cubita descends from one of only two domesticated animals at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Caribbean islands and México (the other beast was the turkey).

When Columbus arrived in Cuba in 1492 his journal entries cited the presence of strange hairless barkless dogs.

This rare indigenous and endangered species of hairless dog exists only in the Americas, in the Caribbean and México, and another version in what is today Ecuador, Peru and Chile.

They are exceptional in the sense that they cool themselves by sweating. All other dog breeds do so by panting.

Another attribute of the Cuban hairless dog is that they don’t bark.

But due to Cubita’ ancestor’s proclivity for Cubanismo (mixing colors and customs resulting in a new unique culture), she’s found a voice, albeit muffled. She is not ashamed that her predecessors combined in many forms of union and love.

Sacrificial Xolos (and clay statues of the same) were frequently buried with their owners. Thousands of skeletons and figurines have been found in ancient graves in México, but only a few in Cuba. The Xolo in Cuba and México was a source of warmth on cold winter nights. Teotihuacan (near modern-day México City), was established around 100 BCE and continued to grow until about 250 CE. The city lasted until the eighth century CE. Teotihuacan was the world's largest metropolis with over 200,000 inhabitants for many centuries.

Sacrificial Xoloitzcuintli were buried with their owners in tombs like Teotihuacan near modern-day México City. Thousands of Xolos skeletons and figurines have been found in ancient graves across México, but only a few in Cuba. The Xolo was a source of warmth for their owners on cold nights, and sometimes a dinner delicacy.

Cubita’s breed is named Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced Sholo-its-kint-lee), and is sometimes shortened to Xolo.

The Aztec name Xoloitzcuintli derives from Xolotl, for the Aztec God of Lightening, and was combined with “itzcuintli” (guide dog for the dead) to form the word Xoloitzcuintli.

In Peru, the aboriginal version is unique. It too is hairless, and its origins are pre-Inca. But it is not to be confused with the Caribbean and Mexican Xoloitzcuintli.

Perhaps when you are in Cuba, you’ll have a chance to connect with Cubita. She exudes incredible affection and warmth, so very Cuban.

Postscript: Cubita passed away at home on August 22, 2014 from complications resulting from exocrine pancreatic insuficiency. In honor of her friendship and memory we have adapted her image for the new logo for Cuba Explorer. ¡Viva Cubita!

We are keen on hearing from you

If you have any questions about Cuba, Cuban dogs, or Cuba Explorer tours call us toll free 1-888-965-5647 toll free, or email us.

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