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Osmel Almaguer:Until recently I would to identify myself as a poet, a cultural promoter and a university student. Now that my notions on poetry have changed slightly, that I got a new job, and that I have finished my studies, I’m forced to ask myself: Am I a different person? In our introductions, we usually mention our social status instead of looking within ourselves for those characteristics that define us as unique and special. The fact that I’m scared of spiders, that I’ve never learned to dance, that I get upset over the simplest things, that culminating moments excite me, that I’m a perfectionist, composed but impulsive, childish but antiquated: these are clues that lead to who I truly am.

Alamar, Havana’s Dog Cemetery

March 18, 2014 | Print Print |

Osmel Almaguer

The Alamar dog cemetery.

The Alamar dog cemetery.

HAVANA TIMES — Some time ago, I recall having written about my neighborhood’s dog cemetery, a stretch of land at the outskirts of Alamar where residents had, of their own will, begun to bury their dead pets, a place that had been vandalized by insensitive people and institutions.

I recall that, around that time, the piping that supplies the entire neighborhood with water was being repaired, and that these pipes cut across next to and over the dog cemetery. During the repair work, many of the tombs were destroyed.

dog cemeteryA while after my post was published in Havana Times (a fellow blogger also had the intention of writing something about the incident, but I don’t know whether he finally did or not), I saw an employee from the Municipal Garbage Collection Head Office looking after the area.

I should point out that, despite the damage, people did not stop burying their pets in the dog cemetery. Some had more resources at their disposal than others. Some pets had tombs any human would envy (if they were alive, of course); others were merely a heap of stones with a makeshift wooden crucifix in the middle.

dog cemeteryToday, the dog cemetery isn’t what it was before it was destroyed. The grass no longer grows on the clayey ground. We are, at least, seeing government authorities respect the space.

This “zoocropolis”, opened by the friend of “Trompy”, a poodle that even had a photo of his likeness over his tomb, today has more than forty permanent residents. There, Canelo, Caneca, Nala and other dogs rest, their tombs a testimony of the love of their friends (I don’t like the word “owner”, as animals don’t actually belong to anyone) and what they meant to them in life.

I feel that the place needs something of a touch-up (I am the kind of person who believes death is not divorced from beauty). If I had the money, I would donate materials to those who wish to bury their pets there, and they would not have to be dogs necessarily.


What's your opinion?

  • Susan Bank

    You are indeed facile with words. I am a photographer from US who worked in Cuba for 11 years, and while I know Alamar, I was not aware of the pet cemetery. For me, living dogs are best metaphor for the reality of habaneros.

  • Michael

    That was very touching. There is the one grave in the Necropolis Cristobal Colon that really touched me of the dog on the tomb. One of my cats (friends) is very old and he will soon pass on. And I could never put him in my backyard for it would upset me too much. Tom will be a shell and he will leave… I have already had 2 friends die in my arms… So sad. And Susan you are a facile person to say this. I am a photographer as well (from Canada) Also over 11 years traveling to Cuba. And I always photograph, and also feel so sorry for these Cuban animals that do not have the care that they would have else where. Unfortunately this is not possible in Cuba. Nor in many countries that I have visited (In India they walk down the beach in the morning and shoot the stray dogs) The dogs and cats have it a lot worse in Cuba than the Habaneros… You are very facile with your words and perspective of life…

  • Michael

    Though Susan I will say that I have done a search on you and like some of your photos from Pinar Del Rio Cuba. I wish that I could show you some of mine…