The 'early Apsos' in Tibet
There were two types of Lahas Apsos in Tibet: The 'ordinary people-Lhasa' and the 'Temple - Lhasa'. The first were common dogs, normally a bit bigger, some of them very big. They have been called 'Patos'. Those Apsos that have been bred in temples were anything else but common and were called 'Gompa-Apsos'. Some monks shared the interest to teach a lot to those Lhasas, since they are good 'student's.
White Apsos have been preferred in Tibet, yet because of its spiritual meaning black Lhasas were popular too and the red ones due to the fact that their color matched nicely with their red garments. If you mate those Lhasas you come up with all kind of colours. Some Lhasas keep changing their colours for the rest of their lives.
The high Lamas and Royal people were there only ones that bred Tibet Lhasas. Therefore ordinary people never owned that type of Lhasa. The dogs have been never sold, but they were given away as gifts. People believe that the Lhasa is precious and special since its the dog with the biggest chance of being able to transform into a human life form.
When a human dies he or she can continue to live in one of the Lhasas before he / she will be reincarnated in human form, depending on the life before life. Not just Lamas, but also 'common' people, depending on their lives before life, can reincarnate as a Lhasa. There is an example about a Rinpoche that had such a Lhasa. The Rinpoche died, his Lhasa did not die much later. After his death people were looking out for his reincarnation. The lamas found two boys among the new generation of kids which matched with the personal things of the deceased Rinpoche. Soon they found out that one of the boys was the reincarnation of the Rinpoche and the other the reincarnation of his Lhasa. The origin of these Lhasas is very sacred.
a beautiful legend has been told:
Long time ago in Tibet there existed 'SAKO' a kind of flying, gliding, white headed animal divinity that was eating bones and nested high up a rock. Every year she gave birth to two newborns, one with wings, another without wings. The one without wings was a small Lhasa Apso. While the new born with wings could easily hunt for its prey on its own, the Lhasa stayed in the nest and has been fed by its mother. The legend has it that those early Lhasa kept falling out of their nests though and died this way. Their mother learned from that and brought the Lhasas on their backs down to the ground and that's how the Lhasas came to Tibet.
People in Tibet saw how the animal divintiy 'SAKO' brought this small type of Lhasa down to earth. There was a Lama that owned such 'SAKO' lhasas. sometimes they had feathers instead of fur.
In Lhasa there have been many Gompa-Apsos, but the Chinese killed them all. Nowadays nobody knows anything about the existence of the old Lhasas anymore. Since nobody asked, the art of bredding the Gompa-Apso has been never pass on to others.
(Extraction of an interview with Lama Ghen Yeshi by G.D'Aoust)
More about Gerald D'Aoust and his True Tibetan Apsos: