It paid to pay attention at first dog show in Bambito.

Dog show in Bambito elevating for society?

A dog show in Bambito, a tiny community near Volcan? A mark of how civilized Panama, as a society, has become is that we now can boast several dog shows.

Okay, we have not yet gravitated to afternoon tea and wafer thin cucumber sandwiches, but a society that values and cares for man’s best friend is well on its way to first-world status.

Sunday March 5th 2006 marked the first dog show in Bambito, at the Bambito Hotel. It was warm, sunny and, true to the season, there was a strong, almost-gale-force, wind blowing down the picturesque alpine valley.

Twenty-eight dogs of varying breeds vied for honors in this show, sponsored by pet food maker Purina and leading Panamanian agro-supplier, Melo. The dogs, everything from large, respectful Rotweillers to small, shivering Schitzus, had journeyed from nearby towns and from as far away as Panama City.

I had rather foolishly entertained the idea of submitting my pedigree Schnauzer for consideration, but Spencer would have failed miserably in the obedience section. I did once ask Spencer if he wanted to go to obedience training, but he simply refused.

The dogs, by and large, were extremely well behaved…although there were a few small “confrontations” between another schnauzer and a German shepherd. I think there might have been some off handed doggy comments: “You're ugly and your mother grooms you funny.”

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Grooming, bathing and pampering do bring out the best in our canine companions and we, as owners, can bask vicariously in the praise that our “adorable” friends receive.

A well-groomed and cute dog, as I have long realized, is a virtual magnet for the opposite sex. So, to the single men and women out there: forget the Ferrari or the sexy clothes – get a dog, the cuddlier and cuter the better. Your love life will be transformed.

I spoke to Bambito Hotel manager, Cynthia Mendez Coriat, about a persistent problem that dog owners have: what do we do when we travel with our pooches?

No problem, she said. The Bambito allows pets and their owners to stay together in special rooms. The co-habitation cost? An affordable $70 per night.

The Bambito is most luxurious and attractive hotel in the Chiriqui Highlands. It has a swimming pool, sauna and hot tub, and a 500-meter jogging & walking trail. The restaurant and bar have booths which overlook a small lake, perfect for a cozy and intimate evening meal.

My wife and I dined there recently, I enjoyed a curried chicken and my wife tried the hotel's specialty – fresh trout. She swears it was the best fish she has tasted since Hawaii.

Was the dog show in Bambito a success? The Bambito Hotel plans two more this year, and I think the turnout will grow exponentially.

To find out more about staying (with or without your pet) at the Bambito Hotel, contact the English-speaking manager: Cynthia Mendez Coriat at: – David Dell

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