|My trip to the land of the Portuguese Pointer|
What is a Portuguese Pointer?
Hello and welcome to my page celebrating the Portuguese pointer. This page is under construction and subject to change so check back often for updates. After getting my dog Jake a year ago, I decided I wanted to learn more about the breed and see them work in the field. This page chronicles the 5 days I spent in Portugal discovering information on this wonderful breed. Hopefully some day you will learn the joys of ownership as I have. You cannot choose a finer dog for hunting and companionship than this breed.
After arriving 2 hours later than expected in Lisbon, I took my rent a car and headed for Montemor-O-Velho to meet up with Luis Fonseca, owner of Canil De Choupal. I was greeted warmly and taken immediately to see his dogs. After seeing the dogs we headed to Figuiera de Foz to reserve accommodations for the night. After reserving a room at the Hotel Costa de Prata 2 we went to a seafood/fish restaurant on the coast in town and had a wonderfully fresh meal. We talked much about the PP and his philosophy regarding them. After dinner I went back to the Hotel and made plans to go out into the field to see his dogs work at 2:30 pm the next day.
I wandered around town in the morning and found a decent place to sit outside and have a cup of coffee. The town was fairly laid back and calm. Many of the buildings had tile facades and were beautiful to see. After walking some more I found the town market and brought back some grilled chicken and ribs and a loaf of fresh bread. I could not find a bad meal in all of Portugal. Even the food on the airplane back was good. At 3 pm Luis Fonseca arrived with a van full of dogs and a couple of partridge and we were off to some land close by that he is authorized to use to train dogs. The weather turned poor in the early afternoon but his dogs still managed to find the birds. While we were running the dogs Luis Fonseca gave me a lot of details about field working the dogs and other practical matters. We ran the dogs for a while then headed back to the hotel.
After cleaning up I drove over to Luis Fonseca’s house, and he had invited his friend Miguel over (who also has a pair of PPs) to dine with us in a restaurant at Montemor-O-Velho. The restaurant was closed but another was open called The Grillhouse and we had a wonderful meal. They served a local specialty which is whole fried baby eels: again a stellar meal. We talked at length about the Association of PP and the breed. In the restaurant I became an official member of the Associacao do Perdiguiero Portugues. I believe I am the first American member and feel very privileged. As a member I received a keychain with the club logo, a patch and the right to receive a quarterly publication on the happenings in the breed and association. This bulletin is written in Portuguese but I still find it to be a treat. After dinner it was back to the hotel since I had to get up early to get down south to Torres Vedras in the morning.
I felt extremely contented to spend so much quality time with Luis Fonseca. It is clear to me that he is a man of great generosity, knowledge and wisdom concerning the welfare of the PP and I was honored that he should help me in trying to learn more about the PP breed.
After catching a quick cup of coffee at Figiera do Foz, I started down to Torres Vedras to meet with Dr. Jorge Rodrigues of the Canil de Torres. Jorge Rodrigues is recognized as an expert in the history and morphology of the PP and has written a book and produced a video about them and his kennel. He showed me his dogs and gave me some history about each one. Jorge Rodrigues’s father was present also and brought some dogs out into the field to run them and to do some field practice. I noted that each kennel’s dogs were different from the others. Jorge Rodrigues had the most of the lighter variety of PP. After showing me the dogs, he invited me to have lunch in town. At lunch he gave me a copy of his book and signed it for me. We talked at length about morphology and breeding practices and I received a good base of information regarding the breed.
After lunch Jorge Rodrigues helped me with trading my car for a different car and helped me reserve a room at the Hotel Imperio Jardim in the center of town. He then invited me to go with him to a breeding at Santarem to which he was bringing a bitch. After getting the dog, he, I and his father headed off to Santarem. Jorge asked me if I wanted to stop by his friend and owner of Canil de Tagus, Carlos Figuiera. I was delighted as I did not even know of the existence of this kennel. We went to the kennel first and we found the housekeeper home so we were able to see the dogs. All of the kennels were in excellent shape and the Canil de Tagus was no exception.
After leaving the kennel we crossed town and went to see the hunter that had the male with which Dr. Rodrigues wanted to cross his female. Alas all parties were willing but the female was not far enough into her heat for the mating to be physically successful. After this minor setback we took the male with us to a field nearby where there was some cut wheat and planted a partridge so the owner could demonstrate the dog’s hunting ability. The hunter brought his friend Marco with him and he brought along an Epargnol Breton that he has been training. The first dog out was the PP and he located the bird after a few minutes but bumped it and the bird flew off. After planting another bird it was the epargnol’s turn along with the PP. The epargnol found the bird in less than a minute and help a perfect point. A few moments later the PP came up behind the little guy and honored perfectly. Those little Epargnols sure do run fast.
After leaving the field, I was invited to eat with Marco, Jorge and Jorge’s father at a local restaurant. We had a great meal while discussing PP and the epargnol. Dr. Rodrigues served as translator as Marco understood some French but could not speak it. After driving back we exchanged pleasantries and I packed it in for the night as I was going back north to Luis Fonseca’s place to see one of his female dog’s work.
After arriving in Montemor-O-Velho Luis Fonseca invited me out to lunch with him and his wife Manuella. We had a wonderful lunch and talked about dogs and various other topics. Manuella was very nice and seemed very supportive of Mr. Fonseca in his passion for the PP. After lunch we took some dogs including the female that he wanted to show me. This bitch, Luis Fonseca had received as a trade between another member of the association in Porto. This was not the best day for the female as she did not have much of a desire to hunt. She was a sweet, good natured dog nonetheless. We let out the other dogs to give them some exercise in the training field and I took some pictures of two of Mr. Fonseca’s very best dogs. The male who’s name was appropriately Best was a spectacular specimen and had won many competitions in his hay day and the female I believe was named Pina another champion in all rights.
Luis Fonseca made arrangements for me to meet Carlos Figuiera the owner of Canil de Tagus and I headed down to Santarem to meet him for dinner. Upon arriving he showed me his dogs. He has some spectacular darker varieties and was very kind to give me lots of details about each dog. We went to dinner in a little town about 15 minutes away whose specialty is Sopa de Pedra (Rock Soup). He told me story about the possible origin of the name which was quite entertaining. Another fabulous meal; the PP was chiefly the topic of conversation. Before returning to his home, Carlos figuiera helped me reserve a room at the Hotel Alfageme in Santarem. We talked a little while longer and then he, with the help of Luis Fonseca made arrangements for me to visit the Canil de Mibafe owned by Mr. Moises Nascimento Costa in the town of Seia up north. Mr. Figuiera was then kind enough to follow me back to the hotel to insure that I did not get lost in the night.
After breakfast at the hotel and checking my email and messages in the hotel business center, I headed up to Seia to meet Moises Nascimento Costa the owner of Canil De Mibafe otherwise known as Professor Moises. Upon in arriving in town and after getting lost a bit, I finally made it to the kennel with the help of some very helpful locals. Mrs. Costa was there to greet me and showed me their dogs while waiting for Professor Moises to arrive. I believe that the Canil Mibafe is one of the first organized kennels to exist and most of the other kennel owners credit him as the source of some of their dogs. It was a great privilege to meet him and to get his ideas on the PP. We quickly went inside his house and he showed me a phenomenal video of his dogs in action working a field with wild quail. His approach on the subject of the PP is one with an emphasis on hunting ability above all else and it certainly was clear by the efficacy the dogs showed in the field in finding and pointing game. He graciously made a copy of the video for me and it is a spectacular!
We talked for a while and then his son and his family came over for a visit. I was invited to eat lunch with his son and daughter in-law and we had a pleasant conversation while eating some terrific home cooked food and fresh cherries from their cherry tree. After lunch we went into town to get a quick espresso at a local coffee house and quickly returned home.
Professor Moises and I then loaded up the dogs in the car and proceeded to climb the Astrella mountain to go to a place where he lets the dogs run. The ride up the mountain was very foggy and I’m sure I left grip marks in the armrest as it was hairy to say the least. Upon arriving it seemed like the professor knew the land like the back of his hand as I was immediately disoriented and could not judge what direction we were going from one minute to the next. The dogs didn’t seem to mind and they must have run for an hour and we returned to the car.
Upon returning, Professor Moises showed me a bitch that had birthed puppies just a week ago and it was a tender site to see. We went inside and discussed the PP some more and I decided to leave before nightfall to avoid getting lost. It really was an honor to meet Professor Moises as he has been a cornerstone of the revival of the PP and has done a fine work in his lifetime. How he has the energy to walk those mountains every day with the dogs is a mystery as I was surely getting winded just trying to keep up.
I headed back down to Montemor-O-Velho as I found out that Carlos Figuiera was planning to come up in the morning to work his dogs with Luis Fonseca in the training field.
Upon arriving in Monte-Mor I found out that Luis Fonseca was unable to have dinner with me that night as he had to bring one of his dogs to a Vet in Coimbra. I ate at the same grill house we had eaten before solo and was not disappointed. After dinner I walked over to a bar named Gargantua that is owned by Mr. Fonseca’s friend Miguel to have a coffee. Miguel talked with me for a couple of hours and I learned a great deal about the association and the current hot topics in the association. I then went back to the hotel and called it a night.
I arrived at the training field at 9:30 AM after getting lost a bit and Luis Fonseca was already there. Carlos Figuiera showed up a few minutes later. There was another man with his father that bred PPs and I had a short discussion with them. They were the owners of a recent champion in the field trials named Cigarra and I felt it was important to meet as many people as possible.
After my discussion we took Best out to look for a partridge that had his legs tied together to slow it down. The three of us were out with the dog and he found the bird in just a few minutes. He pointed the bird and then Carlos Figuiera and Luis Fonseca did some brief exercises with him and gave me some useful tips in field training the PP.
Unfortunately, I had to leave immediately afterwards to catch a plane. I said goodbye but knew that someday I would soon return.
To all the kennel owners who extended themselves and showed me hospitality, I thank you.
All questions and inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Those without email can call me directly at 203-256-5713 and I will try to answer any questions you have. At some point I will have a FAQ that hopefully will address basic questions so stay posted.
My dog Jake
Jake and I at a dog show
Luis Fonseca working
Dr. Jorge Rodrigues
Senhor Rodrigues and Marco
Epargnol Breton and Perdigueiro honoring
Best de Choupal
Pina de Choupal
A male from Canil de Tagus
Moises do Nascimento Costa
Professor Moises in the