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Spanish DOGS
The Story of Dogs in Spanish History, Culture & the Arts 


ABOUT THE BOOK

Spain has an amazing legacy with dogs. According to the Spanish Royal Canine Society, there are officially 23 breeds of Spanish dogs. The dogs you love probably have Spanish roots. 

This book traces the historical, cultural, and symbiotic relationship between humans and dogs. It gives readers a new understanding of where dogs came from, their roles throughout Spanish history, social culture, and their relevance in the development of humanity. 

It is written in easy language with a wit that catches your funny bone. It is also broken down into complete stories.

If you love dogs, art and Spain, or any combination of these, you really need to read this. It also includes a complete guide to Spanish dog breeds.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karla Ingleton Darocas is Canadian married to a Spaniard and based in Benitachell on Spain's Costa Blanca.  She is an educator with a passion to inspire and facilitate a lust to learn.  Her love of Spanish art, architecture, and history is infectious and she attracts art lovers to her lectures. She's also a self-confessed dog lover, with two Spanish rescue dogs, Venus and Mars.  This book is a testament to Karla's love of dogs, the arts, and all things connected to her adopted homeland, Spain.

Her websites are SpainLifestyle.com and KarlaDarocas.com.


REVIEWS

"In her book "Spanish Dogs", the historian and teacher Karla Ingleton Darocas, leads us through the fascinating history of dogs in Spain from the Neolithic to modern times by means of her extensive background knowledge and a companionable illustrative style. 

I was particularly impressed by the role of dogs during one of the darkest chapters of Spanish history, the Conquista when the Conquistadores used dogs of war as cruel and brutal weapons against the local populations.

A large part of the book illustrates the history of dogs in Spain with examples from paintings by Velazquez, Murillo, Goya, Sorolla, and other well-known Spanish painters. Although we are familiar with many of these paintings, we may have hardly noticed the presence of dogs there, if at all. Karla directs our attention to these dogs and creates a picture of their role and importance in their respective epochs.

The last chapter, "Dog of Love", tells us about the intimate relationship between Pablo Picasso and his dachshund Lump. This beautiful story leaves us feeling optimistic regarding the future for dogs in a country where, unfortunately, much still needs to be done for animal welfare.

"Spanish Dogs" is a recommendation for all dog lovers and also those interested in Spanish history and art. Thanks to Karla for this great book, which is really worth reading."

* Marianne Pätzold, Colmenar Viejo (Madrid)

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"We see them sitting under chairs in cafes, popping out of handbags and catching frisbees at the beach. If you are lucky enough to have a dog as a pet then they are there to welcome you home.  We see them in today’s modern world and accept them just so. 

However, reading this book opens up one's mind to a greater appreciation of these animals. Spanish DOGS by Karla Ingleton Darocas gives readers a new understanding of where dogs came from, their roles throughout Spanish history, social culture, and their relevance in the development of humanity. 

Perhaps you have been in an art gallery and admired a painting and noticed a dog in the scene and then walked on without further thought? After reading Karla's book, this won't happen again. In this book, Karla cherry-picks the best of Spanish artwork and reveals that dogs are often more than just a decorative element. 

Karla brings the art scene to life, answering the questions: What kind of dog it is? Who is it with and why is it there? Is there a secret message and what is the artist trying to convey? Karla combines her passionate knowledge of the artwork together with the dog breed and places it in the context of centuries of Spanish history. 

Technically, this book is clearly written. Chapters are broken down into small bites with headings and photos that stir the imagination, allowing you to dip in and out as it suits. This book gives more than facts and figures, it gives knowledge and understanding. After reading it you will have an appreciation for the dogs of Spain, no matter where you may find them in the world today.

- Janet Jager, Switerland

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"It is timely indeed that Karla should write a book re-evaluating the role of dogs in Spanish art and culture.  This current Covid lockdown has led to many of us deciding that we need dogs in our lives for companionship and for exercise.  Yet again,  the role of the dog in our society is being looked at afresh. 
Karla’s book traces how the symbiotic relationship between humans and dogs goes back at least to Neolithic times.  There is much evidence such as the careful and dignified burial of owner and dog together in many ancient cultures to suggest that dogs were, as Karla observes, seen as part wild, part human, and part divine.  

Some ancients saw dogs as having healing powers leading to dogs being laid on to the bodies of sick people or to lick wounds. 

Small dogs were bred to be companions to children whereas 90kg mastiffs in armour performed a valuable role in battle.  The Romans at least were not averse to dog sacrifice to ensure a good harvest.  

In many ways, Karla demonstrates that dogs have always been more than just working animals.

As artists discovered painting on canvas dogs was co-opted into a storytelling role.  In a world without television or radio (let alone the internet) paintings were there to both entertain and inform.  

In Velasquez’s painting of Jacob being told of the death at the hands of the wolves of Joseph, his favourite son, it is a small dog barking at the bottom of the painting that reminds us that Joseph’s brothers are lying about fate of Joseph.  In one of Velasquez’s court paintings, we see him portraying very sweetly Felipe IV’s young son, Prince Felipe Prospero.  In the painting, Velasquez has placed a small spaniel next to the child on a throne-like chair.  The Prince was very sickly and died at the age of four.  Was Velasquez signaling that the dog had more chance of acceding to the throne than his little master?  

Karla’s book is full of such insights.

We learn how small dogs were used to complete the nuclear family in a Catholic propaganda campaign where artists were charged with tackling licentious behaviour in the late 1600s.  

Dogs often appear as symbols of fidelity in paintings celebrating a wedding.  We also see how the treatment by artists of hunting dogs could send a message of either the success of Kings in war or, with the more enlightened views of Goya, remind us we were to some extent slaves to circumstances.  

After reading Karla’s book you will look again at the dog in any painting and ponder on what he is there to tell us about his owner and ultimately about ourselves."

* Chris Tucker, Javea

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"Karla’s latest book Spanish Dogs is an extensive history on dogs from prehistoric times until the present day. 
A couple of things stand out in my mind, after having read this book.

For example, I never knew that dogs, mainly Mastiffs, were used during times of war during the Middle Ages. Clad in armour they would charge at the horses during cavalry brandishing on their backs canisters of burning resin which would spook the horses and bring them down along with the enemy soldiers on their backs.
I also found the origin of the lapdog, or toy dog, at the end of the Middle Ages to be very interesting. Because of their small size, these dogs would be welcomed in the family home and be depicted in portraits. They would also be used as bed warmers and to attract the fleas away from their very unhygienic owners for whom a bath was a rarity and related to prostitution. 

Here’s a fun fact from this book! The winter months made it too cold for bathing, therefore being delayed until the Spring, which saw the beginning of the custom of having weddings in May and June. As an extra measure, the bride would carry a bouquet, thus hoping that the scent of the flowers would mask the odour of the body.

Whether you are a dog owner or not - this book Spanish DOGS is an insightful read into the fascinating world of dogs and the part that they play, and always have played, in our lives.

The dog really is “man’s best friend.”

Margaret den Hartog - Javea

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"Well, I must admit that I have never given any thought to the representation of dogs in art. As the owner of two Spanish dogs, I will now. 
From prehistoric through to the 20th century, Karla guides us in interpreting the art and also engages us to understand better the roles that dogs played in daily life.  

Karla writes in an engaging fashion and brings the subject to life very well. I often judge people based on how they treat their animals; now I’ll be both notices, and interpreting the dogs I see in art. 

I always enjoy the opportunity to increase my appreciation and understanding of art, and this book has opened a new window for me to look through."

Chris Newkirk * Las Peñitas, Nicaragua

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Book Review: Spanish Dogs by Karla Ingleton Darocas
Published 21st January 2021 | By Sandra Piddock

Karla Ingleton Darocas is based in Benitachell on Spain’s Costa Blanca. On her website, SpainLifestyle.com, she describes herself as:

An educator with a passion to inspire and facilitate a lust to learn.

Karla has a Hons B.A. and is also a photographer, author, and Spanish Fine Arts Historian. She’s also a self-confessed dog lover, with two rescue dogs, Venus and Mars. 

Her latest book, Spanish Dogs: The Story of Dogs in Spanish History, Culture, and the Arts, is a testament to Karla’s love of dogs, the arts, and all things connected to her adopted homeland, Spain.

From the first sentence, I was hooked, because I share Karla’s passion for dogs and Spanish culture. I also firmly believe that once you stop learning, you stop living, and there’s a lot of learning packed into the 70 pages of this book.

Don’t let that put you off though – Karla has a wonderful way with words that makes absorbing knowledge a pleasure, and she also has a great sense of humour.

Describing how court painters Velazquez and Goya painted their royal sponsors, she points out that Velazquez was very keen to underplay the facial deformities resulting from the interbreeding of the Habsburg monarchs. Spanish kings loved to be painted in full hunting dress, with their faithful – and generally subservient – hounds by their sides. It subtly emphasised the idea, first verbalised in the Bible, that Man has dominion over the beasts. (Genesis 1: 26, 27)

Goya, on the other hand, preferred to focus on the real beauty of his subjects, or as Karla puts it:

Velazquez used his admirable inventiveness to hide the protruding lower lip and pronounced chin … Goya didn’t modify the royals … On the contrary, we see the monarch, (Carlos III) with his strange small face, beady eyes, and a great big honker of a nose.

Goya was certainly an artist after Karla’s own heart, using his skills to represent the true narrative and true worth of the subjects of his portraits. In his art, there is no doubt where his allegiances lie. Discussing the hunting portrait of Carlos IV and his hound, Karla notes:

Looking up at his master with adoration and fidelity, this dog is the most regal thing in this painting.

This fabulous book gives some great insights into the origins of dog breeds in Spain. The ubiquitous Podencos arrived in Spain as a result of conquests and explorations over the centuries. It’s most likely that the Podencos came across from Algeria, while the distinctive Water Dogs came over with the Berbers during the first Muslim conquest of Spain. Today, there are still 49 different Water Dogs in Spain.

Another typically Spanish dog, the Galgo, or Greyhound, is believed to have landed on the Iberian Peninsula with the Celts. There’s plenty of contemporary artwork, in the shape of cave paintings, engravings, and pottery, to support these theories, and it’s uncanny to see the resemblance between these ancient canine ancestors and the Spanish dogs we are so familiar with today.

Fast forward to the Middle Ages, and the Catholic Spanish found another use for dogs, but it’s not one of their proudest moments. The inventors of the Inquisition had a favourite torture method that involved chaining prisoners, then allowing them to be savaged by Mastiffs. Today, these gentle giants are more noted for their loving, faithful nature, which is typical of Man’s Best Friend.

Overall though, this is an upbeat book, and Karla soon lifts the mood by informing the reader of the term that was used for this barbaric practice. It was called – wait for it – dogging! That’s quite a juxtaposition for modern audiences to deal with, since ‘dogging’ has come to mean having sex with strangers in the open air. In fact, in the popular television sitcom Benidorm, the eponymous resort is said to have a designated ‘Dogging Beach!’

Karla wraps up the book with the tale – or should that be tail? – of Pablo Picasso’s beloved Dachsund, Lump. Lump arrived in 1957 with photographer David Douglas Duncan, who was doing a feature on Picasso and never left the artist’s side until his death in March 1973. Picasso followed Lump across the Rainbow Bridge just 10 days later. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s a suitably emotional ending for a book about the creatures that inspire so many emotions in their human guardians.

There are so many interesting anecdotes, cultural connections, and light moments that describing Spanish Dogs as just a book about dogs is a bit like saying Jose Carreras, one-third of the Three Tenors, is ‘just a singer.’ If you love dogs, art and Spain, or any combination of these, you really need to read this.

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"There are tons of books on "Dogs", so what makes Karla's book stand out? I would even say, what makes it exceptional?

It is the first book on dogs in Spanish history and culture. The means by which she chooses to present them appeals to me greatly - through artefacts and Spanish Art.

Her time period spans from the time of the Neanderthals to modern times. She speaks of the working dog, the dogs of war, and lapdogs. Her illustrations go from religious art to court paintings. We discover famous painters and their relation to dogs (from Goya to Picasso).

Her book is very detailed.

What makes it interesting to read are the many stories and anecdotes that accompany the information. Karla, with her artistic background, leads us into a painting and draws our attention to something we would not necessarily see ourselves, and explains the "why and the how".

I strongly recommend Karla's book for those who love dogs, Spanish history and culture, and/or Spanish art. Her writing style is easy to follow."

* Josette Jouas, Denia

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"Spanish Dogs is a fabulous journey. The author, Karla Darocas, had me look at dogs in Spain from the Stone Age through to Modern Day. Along the way she showed me cave drawings, artefacts, pictures, and portraits from great masters, depicting man's interaction with dogs. The result is a fascinating adventure with dogs intertwined with Spanish history and humans. The sad part was the shocking realisation that in many parts of Spain, dogs are not protected and are often badly treated.
This book tells of many interesting and diverse facts that I had never considered before like how Egyptians worshipped a dog-like god, Anubis, and how the Roman legions trained dogs to be warriors and wear fighting armour.

It also explained how both the Greeks and the Romans kept small dogs as pets for their children and often buried the pet dog along with the child, enabling them to be together in the afterlife.

I also learned how the Muslim Conquest of Spain introduced the Berber water dogs that would assist them in fishing and bringing in the nets.

I didn’t know that in Spain during the Renaissance, companion dogs were kept as sleeping partners in order to attract the fleas that were common on Catholics who did not wash because they might be mistaken by the Inquisition as Muslim and tossed in prison.

It was interesting to see what kind of dogs the Spanish Habsburg Kings kept for hunting and how dogs would aid beggars and blind street performers.

Even into the 19th and 20th centuries, dogs took their place in the portraits of famous people.

I found the whole of this book informative and engrossing. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good read and interesting humanist knowledge."

- Judy Dicken, Scotland

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