Page 250 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 250

                We live in Central New Jersey, in a community saturated with dog breeders and exhibitors. Duane is a researcher retired from Bell Laboratories and is currently teaching Chemistry and Sta- tistics at New Jersey Institute of Technology. Connie is a retired healthcare administrator.
Do we hope the breed’s popularity will change or are we com- fortable with the placement? We have seen a quantum change in the popularity of the breed from the high watermark in the seventies. It is now laughingly referred to as the breed of the aging flower child.
This is a breed that requires regular grooming, exercise and socialization. A fenced yard is also needed. Not everyone is will- ing or able to make the commitment to ensure these. There are presently probably enough Afghan Hounds of varied backgrounds and pedigrees to maintain breed health and genetic variability. The numbers of Afghan Hounds requiring rescue seem to be lower than 30+ years ago, so maybe our present numbers are about right.
Our thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? We have no preference. The patterned coat is a breed characteristic and quite beguiling. In contrast, too much coat can distort the desired outline and tends to hide the inherent “houndiness” of the breed.
Our thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? Form and function must be in balance. The breed standard is quite clear as to the correct struc- ture. Specific aspects of the structure are stipulated such as shoul- ders, top line, bend of stifle, hocks, brisket, angulation as well as the unique breed characteristics such as hip bones, topknot, carriage. The structure dictates correct movement. Three aspects must be balanced in assessing a dog in the ring: the appearance, the move- ment and the structure.
Are there any misconceptions about the breed we’d like to dis- pel? The Afghan Hound is very intelligent! The misconception regarding their intelligence may be due to their independent nature. The Afghan Hound’s primary drive is survival, not pleasing you. It is interesting that other than line cuts, Afghans probably have the fewest injuries of any breed in coursing trials. Afghans are more interested in surviving than in catching the bunny! The breed is also a functional hound and not merely a foo foo show dog.
What special challenges do breeders face in our current econom- ic and social climate? The current climate regarding the assumed virtues of “rescue” as opposed to that of purpose breed dogs is a challenge for all preservation breeders. In addition, the impact of designer dogs has had a negative impact. Thankfully there has not been a strong commercial impulse to cross-breed Afghan Hounds with other breeds to create a new and attractive “designer dog”. Poodles, unfortunately for them, seem to be the breed of choice for a heavily-coated breed in such designer dog breedings.
At what age do we start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? In our line we have found that three months of age is most often the optimum time to assess their virtues or limitations. The pups will often go through subsequent odd growth spurts, but at maturity they most frequently return to the dog we see at three months.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Judges should not be deceived by the coat. A fully coated dog could be concealing a less than desirable structure which would be more obvious in a highly patterned dog. Coat color patterns can also be deceiving. For example, a dog with a black and tan pattern with a diagonal color division on the hocks can errone- ously look to have defective hocks. With a heavily coated breed like Afghan Hounds the judge needs to watch the motion of the feet to determine the movement soundness, not the legs, whose movement pattern is often covered by the profuse coat.
What’s the best way to attract newcomers to our breed and to the sport? Possibly more than in the past, owners want to have fun with their dogs, so seeing Afghan Hounds and their owners
enjoying performance events such as agility and coursing would probably attract good, responsible owners into the breed.
Our ultimate goal for the breed? Ours is a breed of preserva- tion and not innovation. The original British standard, which is the foundation of breed standards around the world, was written to describe the dog as it was found in Afghanistan, rather than describ- ing an ideal that we should develop. The maintenance of the breed standard in breeding programs must be the goal. We have over the years seen trends we consider detrimental to the breed reversed by the conscientious efforts of core Afghan Hound breeders. Trends toward too much or too little bone/substance, too much or insuf- ficient size, distortions of the outline, etc. have been reversed over time toward a more proper norm. With the application of cream rinse and a blow dryer, many of the early dogs would not look out of place in today’s show ring! We hope this self-correcting tendency will remain with breeders, and that their breeding objectives remain fixed on the standard as it is. It has served us well. We hope that the breed will be preserved pretty much as it is for at least the next century and beyond.
Our favorite dog show memory? We have many great memories. It is easy to recall the wins and forget the losses. The friends made in the sport are very special and enhance the experience. Early in our showing career, we had a bad weekend, and at the conclusion of the weekend, we had a lovely dinner Sunday evening with friends. We commented on the drive home that if our happiness depended on winning, we were going to be very unhappy showing dogs as a hobby, but if we developed friendships with folks we met at the shows, we could have an enjoyable time even if we didn’t win. This approach to the hobby of showing dogs has provided us with a very rewarding part of our lives, and we treasure the friends we have made over the years.
We’d also like to share about the breed that we have a book of Afghan Hound cartoons displaying all the mischief they can get into. The last cartoon showed the owner frazzled, sprawled on a thoroughly chewed-up couch asking, “Why do I put up with this?”, then answering her question in bold type: “Because I live with beau- ty!” In our opinions, there is no better explanation.
My primary residence is on Long Island, New York where I grew up and I have a secondary residence in Flori- da where the bulk of my immediate family reside.
Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with the placement? The breed has never been ranked very high in popular- ity, I assume due to the commitment to grooming required and because of their innate independence which includes their love of freedom to run. But—those who know of their “cat- like” personality find them an amazing companion and most Afghan Hound owners are “repeat offenders” for life. I understand their current position and it actually isn’t a major concern to me.
My thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? There is no thought to me on this. Patterning is such an important detail of the Standard which secures the traditional “saddle” to remain an “outstanding characteristic” of the breed. Those who don’t understand this are not fully knowledgeable of the Standard, and might just be those

   248   249   250   251   252