The various dogs in Havana bring life to some of the dusty buildings, as they caper on balconies, sit back on doorways greeting passers-by, or perform their own paseo, making friends in the neighbourhood. They are generally quiet and reserved: they won’t offer to get you a taxi or sell you a hat with a picture of Che Guevara on it. The canine population displays a diverse heritage. There is a preponderance of small terriers and dachsunds in the family trees of much of the population, while others betray more exotic poodle or Alsatian lineage. Their ancestors arrived with the conquistadors, and they’ve been playing their part in the city since the earliest days of the city. Their forebears worked catching rats in the warehouses at the docks, accompanying nightwatchmen on their rounds, and later sitting on the laps of Cuba’s richest ladies. Perhaps it is because they remember this, the dogs are not hustlers. They recline, eyes closed, near the musicians who play in the square – when some focused tail-wagging and soulful gazing could get them a decent ration of scraps from the tables of tourists nearby. They bark little, compared to dogs elsewhere. I have yet to hear one growl in anger. They seem genuinely content. And with a life that involves lounging around in the Caribbean, who can blame them?