No one knows exactly when the practice started, but the blood sport of bullfighting goes back for millennia. Spain is the country that most people associate bullfighting today, and the related sport of the Running of the Bulls (known in Spain as the encierro) is also still very popular there.
The tradition that goes back to the 14th century, when Spaniards would try to rush their cattle to the marketplace in order to speed up the selling process. Over time, the process of getting the bulls amped-up enough to run through the streets toward the market became something of an adrenaline-pumping sport for the Spaniards driving the bulls to the market, and the tradition eventually became intermingled with bullfighting when Running of the Bulls participants began leading bulls to the arena instead of the marketplace. Saint Fermin, a third-century bishop of Pamplona, has long-been associated with the running of the bulls, bullfighting, and the annual feast that comes with them.
Of course, in addition the brutality that was inflicted on the bulls in the arena by the bullfighters, many participants in both the bullfighting and the Running of the Bulls would often receive moderate to severe injuries, and some even lost their lives.
Fast-forward to today, and, while the sports still enjoy considerable popularity, local attitudes are changing toward inherent cruelty of the practices. Recently, a video surfaced of a group of young boys participating in their own encierro, but their version kept the kept the fun without the cruelty.
“To Saint Fermin we come, since he is our patron saint. He will guide us in the bull running, giving us his blessing,” the boys sing at the beginning of the video, only to be interrupted by a ferocious, charging . . . Yorkshire terrier?
The Yorkie makes a dash for the kids and chases them around a square in what appears to be the courtyard of an apartment complex. The kids run for their lives, getting a good bit of adrenaline and exercise along the way, while the woman filming can be heard laughing throughout the entire run.
The kids had fun, the dog certainly appears to have had its share of fun, and the best part is that no person or animal was hurt.
Since these children represent the next generation in Spain, let’s hope that the good-natured and kind version of the encierro that they participated in this year shapes their attitudes for what the tradition can be in the future.