A story by Desi Domo, about her Coton de Tulear; Lilah. As fate would have it Wendy was inspired to adopt Coton Baby Hope, after learning about Lilah from this wonderful tail:)
Lilah is not a big, tough, guard dog. Yet, her diminutive size does not deter her from frequently adopting a ferocious watchdog persona, although her yapping is usually cut short of watchdog glory when one comes near her. It makes me wonder what would happen if a burglar ever broke into my house. I have a hunch that Lilah would sacrifice her guard-dog position within seconds in exchange for some affection. But what burglar could ever resist her anyway? For Lilah has a quality that sets her apart from other dogs. Although in most cases it is the dog that obeys the owner – in my family – it is often the owners who obey the dog. The submissiveness that makes my family do cartwheels for Lilah is something I like to call “surrender to royalty.” Yes, Lilah actually is descended from royalty.
A Coton de Tulear, Lilah comes from a rare breed, which has quite a history. In the sixteenth century, European vessels sailing around the coasts of Africa were not only boarded by merchants but also with companion dogs most likely related to the French Bichons and the Italian Bolognese. When merchants’ lives were lost in the sinking of their ships, the little dogs swam to shore. And so, the breed was introduced to the Madagascan port of Tulear. Taking on the French word for “cotton” for their cottony textured coat, Cotons were immediately considered royalty by the Madagascan people, who prized the breed so much that they allowed only nobility and the highest-class citizens to own them.
Essentially unknown until they were reintroduced to Europe and America within the last twenty years, Cotons remain popular among the Madagascan upper-class today and are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Perhaps it was the elegant extravagance of this story that drew my attention to the breed, or maybe it was a certain contentedness I experienced witnessing man’s best friend rise to the top as if recovering their lost civilization. Either way, the Coton de Tulear inevitably sparked my curiosity and interest.
Of course, my family thought it most sensible to get all the facts before a Coton could become a certified family member. So the research began. We soon discovered that Cotons are as soft on the inside as they are on the outside. Cheerful, gentle, affectionate, and extremely intelligent are all words to describe them. The truth is that although we may go to certain extremes at times to please Lilah, she mutually goes to great lengths to please us. Cotons learn quickly and are very easy going. Although Cotons love to swim, play and can follow their masters on horseback for several miles, they can adapt well to any family situation whether active or inactive. They do not shed and are good for allergy sufferers. There is a long list of advantages with only few disadvantages. Their fluffy coat requires daily brushing, and careful grooming of the pads of their feet and ears is needed.
The greatest advantage of having a Coton de Tulear is the fact that there are no genetic health complications that run in the breed. I happen to love small dogs, and it is a known fact that health problems often arise at some point in most toy breeds. Yet, the Coton de Tulear is an exception to this rule. After having a two year-old Yorkie who died from genetic birth defects, owning such a healthy dog is a blessing.
After much research and careful thought, little Lilah arrived by plane from our breeder, Carol Hughes, in Texas. Our Coton was all that we expected and worth the expensive price we paid for her. The average cost in both the United States and Canada is about $1800. However, another option to acquire a Coton is to rescue one through The Coton de Tulear Club of America (CTCA). Although committing part of your life to your Rescue Coton may require a little extra work, the rewards can be phenomenal. If you are thinking about rescuing a Coton, call the CTCA at 607-775-0004 or visit their website at www.cotonclub.com.
Being the all-round dog lover that I am, I find it difficult to admit that the Coton de Tulear is superior in anyway to any other dog. However, it is true that this is a breed unlike any other. There is something hiding beneath those mounds of cottony fur that makes these dogs rare not only in quantity but in quality; something that runs even deeper than their good nature and passion to please. If the day comes when I can put my finger on what this intangible-something is in owning a Coton, I will tell you. Until then, you just might have to welcome a Coton into your own life, and solve the mystery for yourself.