Page 252 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 252

                AFGHAN HOUND Q&A
“If one doesn’t take the time to see the breed “work” in what was their habitat as a powerful coursing dog on mountainous terrain over long distance and time—they will never understand why correct structure is so important.”
who have allowed excessive trimming to permeate the breed. Don’t ask that question to any longtime breeders unless you’re prepared for a sharp retort!
My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? The breed has survived many “fads” over the years. In the 70s and 80s when it took 93 bitches for a 5-point major (it now takes about 12), coats and speed were king of the ring. I think those extremes have calmed down at the moment. The beauty of the breed will always force a second look in the Groups where they do impress with their strong, yet grace- ful action. The better judges will reward the right combination of correctness in conformation adorned by a coat of proper texture coupled with the requisite muscle-tone the breed should have.
Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? “ANY misconceptions”—that could be a long list! The Royal Fam- ily didn’t put the hound in long, glorious coat and open up the palace gates and say “Go, run down dinner.” Those who could and did “run down dinner” were the ones that were kept and prized.
What special challenges do breeders face in our current econom- ic and social climate? Sadly current lifestyles aren’t geared for a large breed with coat demands—those who want a pet possessing a calm- ness and beauty about them without a non-stop need to “activity” (they pick and choose when they want to be active—usually when some small critter catches their eye!) will find the breed suitable for their lifestyle.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? For me: I see what I need to very early—a day old pup will have a shape and scope that will never change—the key time for me is about 12 weeks when they have to show me a clear “sense of self” which includes how they interact, respond and carry themselves in different situations. Those that rise to those marks have always developed into a perfect Afghan Hound in body and mind.
The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? If one doesn’t take the time to see the breed “work” in what was their habitat as a powerful coursing dog on mountainous terrain over long distance and time—they will never understand why correct structure is so important. If they are impressed solely by the beauty and elegance of the breed they are missing the full understanding of the breed. The words “Powerful, Strong, Pun- ishing, Strength” are used repeatedly in the Standard. There are a few correlations one can use: An “Aristocrat” is like the Royal Family—they have a stature and bearing that upholds under any situation, they don’t recoil and shriek when confronted by someone or something unexpected, they show disdain and move on—that is “aloof”. No judge should reward fear and/or aggressiveness ever! The Standard is clear: “Temperament: Aloof and dignified, yet GAY (my caps) Faults: shyness and sharpness.” Those words tell me that “Aloof, dignified and gay” all need to be present.
The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? I don’t really know the answer to this specific to the Afghan Hound They will always have a unique following, but the dog sport has to get way more proactive in promoting everything about the pure- bred dog and their virtues of owning a breed with predictable size, function and temperament that they expect. Seeing more dogs in performance competitions is helping. Everyone has to work to this end—before the purebred dog meets its end!
My ultimate goal for the breed? This is a timely question for me personally. It is almost 18 years since I last exhibited and 12
years since the last Grandeur litter was bred. Evelyn Rechler and I decided we had to act now if we wanted to have Afghan Hounds around as we advanced in age. We used 30-year-old semen of a dog I bred and owned with Roger Rechler (Ch. Triumph of Grandeur: sire of Ch Tryst of Grandeur) and co-bred with great friends with a 40+ year old line that had Grandeur behind them—eight champi- ons from that breeding invigorated me to now represent in the show ring once again. The breed has changed in my estimation over those years and this might just be the last chance for me to have a dog presented that I think is representative of the Afghan Hound as I know it. I won’t be showing the dog personally, remember the “age” thing, but those who have been around almost as long as myself and the kennel are super supportive to see an attempt to swing the pendulum back to the way we remember.
My favorite dog show memory? There are too many to men- tion in this one space, but all of them involve a special dog, a fam- ily member and the two owners of the Grandeur Afghan Hounds: Sunny Shay and Roger Rechler.
I was born into the dog show world and teamed with my mother, Vir- ginia Withington in the late 60s to make Stormhill one of the top Afghan Hound kennels in the world.
As a breeder, owner-handler, I showed Ch. Stormhill’s Who’s Zoomin Who to #1 Afghan in 1989, retiring her as the #1 Afghan bitch of all time. I also showed two national specialty winners:
Ch.Panjhet of Stormhill (1973) and Ch. Calais Sunrise at Stormhill (1999) and numerous other dogs to Specialty, Group and BIS wins. Throughout the years, Stormhill dogs have been very successful
in conformation, obedience, agility and therapy work.
I would like to acknowledge the following co-breeders that I have been involved with over the years whose support, expertise and participation have helped immensely to carry on the Stormhill name. Most notably, Terri Vanderzee, her mother Mary Vanderzee,
my ex-husband David Frei and Denise Schwebke.
I was licensed to judge Afghans in 1981 and Whippets and
Junior Showmanship in 1997. I have had the privilege to judge many wonderful assignments in the USA, Canada, Europe, Mexi- co, Australia and New Zealand. Most notably, the Afghan Hound Club of America (twice), Westminster KC (twice) and the first Aus- tralian Afghan Hound National specialty.
Today, I am mostly involved, along with my friend and kennel manager, Terri Vanderzee, in training my dogs in agility, exhibiting mostly at specialty shows and judging.
Currently, I am a member of the Evergreen Afghan Hound Club (Vice President), Seattle KC (AKC Delegate) and Western Wash- ington Hound Assn.
I live in Woodinville, Washington. Currently, my life pretty much revolves around my involvement in dogs.
Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfort- able with the placement? Sadly, I do not see the ranking of the breed increasing. The popularity of the breed has diminished for many reasons. First of all there aren’t that many new people coming into

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