I exit the Aviatorilor metro station and head toward the Arcul de Triumf—the Arch of Triumph in Romanian—a historic monument in the Embassy Quarter, also known fondly by the locals as “Little Paris”. A few blocks away is a street called Intrarea Peru, which means “Peru Entry”, and, in fact, I immediately feel as if I’m entering Peruvian territory, for right in front of me I see the flag and I know I’ve arrived in the right place. I’m meeting the Ambassador, Mrs. María Eugenia Echeverría, who’s acquired a specimen of Peruvian Hairless Dog in April of this year.
Upon entering the Embassy I see through the portico a beautiful Peruvian Hairless Dog that runs out wagging its tail to find out who’s arrived. She stops a few meters away from me, right beside the flagpole that raises the Peruvian flag over the entrance patio, as if taking her rightful place among the international symbols of our national identity. My welcome committee is made up of none other than Quilla, the Peruvian Hairless pup who’s arrived to live in the Embassy earlier this year. Quilla looks at me, gets closer to see me better, then gracefully runs off, and immediately stops and turns, wanting me to follow along in her game.
María Eugenia, Peruvian Ambassador to Romania and a few other surrounding countries, is not only passionate about Peruvian culture, she also has a great capacity for exalting the virtues of out cultural heritage. This she manages by means of the official mission she carries out in her post but also thanks to her talent in decorating her residence, a space that represents the Peruvian nation.
“Some of the furniture is property of the Peruvian government,” says María Eugenia, “some of it’s mine, as well as the paintings and decorations.” She moves her hands to show me the things she mentions as we sit in the porch of the residence on some furniture covered with textiles from Cuzco and with two ornamental earthen vessels characteristic of the Moche pre-Hispanic culture on the coffee table in front of us.
A few meters away, from a beautiful garden, Quilla observes the Ambassador as she tells me: “Despite the cold we’re having these days and the fact she has no fur, Quilla is very energetic. She doesn’t feel the cold because she’s running about all day.” Indeed, Quilla enjoys having a house with a garden that allows her to give free rein to her energy and, above all, to enjoy the affection of all the people who surround her and who daily visit the Peruvian seat.
María Eugenia loves animals in general. Beside Quilla, she has two dachshunds; one with short hair and one with hard hair. The one comes from Belgium and the other from a Peruvian family who’s passionate about this breed, with whom María Eugenia has made friendship.
“The exit process from Peru to Europe is longer for Peruvian Hairless Dogs than it is for other dogs,” says María Eugenia. “I wished to bring over with me a Hairless puppy from Peru but I found out too late that there were specific procedures for them. Through the cultural activities in which the Embassy participates we met breeders of Peruvian Hairless Dog in Europe. That’s how Quilla arrived home.”
Quilla (official name: Sechura Quilla Pazzda) was born on April 23 of this year in a world-renown kennel of the Czech Republic. The pup’s character and physical beauty confirm the professionalism and the responsible and committed work I’ve been able to witness from the kennels in that country. I’m, therefore, not surprised when María Eugenia tells me its breeders frequently ask for news and photos of the pup to find out how it’s doing, besides being always available to give her recommendations for good care and tenure.
Quilla isn’t only a beloved pet; along with the people who work with María Eugenia, she’s an active promoter of Peruvian culture, a true canine ambassador! However, Quilla is probably the first Peruvian Hairless Dog to belong to a Peruvian Ambassador.
“Every Peruvian member of our Embassy loves his or her country and proudly values its culture in his or her own way,” says María Eugenia. “Quilla is part of the life of the Embassy and of its cultural promotion. From a simple companion in daily chores, to welcoming officials from other countries, Quilla has become a Peruvian representative who reveals much about our past and history.”
It’s clear María Eugenia loves to be surrounded by dogs and, now, as Ambassador, by her Peruvian Hairless pup in particular. “I believe having a [Peruvian Hairless Dog] is worth it,” she says. “Due to the peculiarities of its breed—stylized and hairless—they attract people’s attention. People ask you where they’re from. Which is always a good opportunity to speak to them about this ancient Peruvian breed that’s accompanied both Inca and pre-Inca cultures such as the Vicus, Chavín, and Moche, as attested by huacos (ancient ceremonial pottery), decorations and musical instruments. Tell them also how they were so appreciated that they had a role in religious ceremonies and how, due to the warmth of their bodies, they also had antirheumatic therapeutic uses. That way they’ll now know, when visiting Chan Chan or the Tombs of the Lord of Sipán, for instance, that those Hairless Dogs that welcome tourists are part of the cultural legacy of the pre-Hispanic civilization.”
On closing our conversation I ask her if she would recommend other people to have a Peruvian pet: “Of course, but as long as they’re willing to treat them with dedication and affection. They’re very affectionate dogs, and totally dedicated to making their owners happy, so it’s the least they deserve In addition, since they’re part of the national cultural heritage, it would be good if their owners were interested in learning about the history of these dogs.”
I say goodbye to the Ambassador and Quilla and I feel this is just the beginning of a beautiful story. Quilla is still quite young, and from her place as canine ambassador to Peru in Romania, now and in the future, wherever the diplomatic career of María Eugenia takes them, she’ll have the opportunity to touch the lives of so many people from many different places, and teach them of the existence of her ancient breed, allowing them to spend some moments with a very special dog, perhaps even inspiring them to have a Peruvian Hairless Dog in their lives, too.
Heading back to Bucharest’s Arch of Triumph I think of the great triumph of these last years that’s been popularizing the Peruvian Hairless Dog in the world, and I think how valuable it would be for spreading internationally the Peruvian cultural identity that more official Peruvian representatives in the world followed the example set by our Ambassador in Romania and hired a Peruvian canine ambassador of the caliber of Quilla.
APPP – ADPP (Association pour la protection du patrimoine péruvien – Asociación de defensa del patrimonio peruano)