Page 258 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 258

                AFGHAN HOUND Q&A
“Patterning ‘can’ fool the eye of a judge
as to the balance of the dog—in a negative way.”
empty bed! There are Afghans in agility, and obedience, and many in coursing. I’ve gotten CGC titles on several of my dogs, cours- ing titles on many, and one is in Rally training. And while they are often aloof with strangers, as the breed standard acknowledges, they are loyal, affectionate clowns with their owners.
What special challenges do breeders face in our current econom- ic and social climate? It’s increasingly tough to find good homes for puppies, primarily because of the coat care requirements, but also the costs of installing bathing facilities in the home, as well as a six foot fence, and show costs. Coat care for show dogs is significant, and for years, two of my males needed to be groomed every five days, without fail. Younger people often don’t want to take on the work it takes to keep Afghans clean and mat-free, and don’t have the budget to take them to a groomer every week. And as I noted, many of us in the fancy are getting older, and puppies represent a 12-14 year commitment.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? I’d like new judges to interpret the standard in the context of the breed’s development as a hunting dog, and to prioritize level top lines, correct angulation, and movement over flash and glamour, so as to preserve this function, which represents the essence of the breed. No caricatures and no sickle hocks, please. Movement at the trot should be balanced and easy, so please ask for an easy working trot, not a racing trot around the ring. In an easy, working trot you can still see drive, reach, balance, and power.
What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? Clearly, we need to do more to attract newcomers. We need to increase the exposure of our breed. Meet the Breeds is a use- ful way to do this. We can be more flexible in placing our dogs in great homes with owners who are more interested in clipping their dogs and coursing them, or agility training them, than they are in conformation. But I think we need to take our dogs to the public, as well. We can take them to outdoor cafes and to public parks, so that youngsters can see, meet, and fall in love with this fabulous breed. I’m sure that I fell in love with Afghans when my father and I were watching WKC on TV years ago, and he commented admiringly something like: “Wow! Would you look at that dog!”
My favorite dog show memory? In June, 2008, I took my bitch, Laila, to the Pittsburgh Afghan Hound Club specialty. She was in a soft crate under a tent, on a mat, during a downpour. When I took her out to get ready to go into the ring I saw that she had been lying in two inches of water! I raced through the park to a friend’s motor home, and tried to dry her coat, but the air was so damp that it was futile. Nearly in tears, I told her we were just going to go home, as we ran back to the show site. We emptied an entire container of powder into her coat, and she went into the ring with her breeder/ handler, wavy coat and all, and won Winners Bitch.
Laila went on to finish her championship, and whelp (with Becket as sire) a litter of seven—all champions, and was the grand- dam of a bitch who was a two time AHCA National winner (2017 and 2019), and a dog who was the ASFA #1 coursing dog in 2018. And Laila herself won BOS Veteran Sweeps at the AHCA National in 2014.
I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia. We are retired business-own- ers and before that my husband was career Navy. My dog-tribe takes up most of my day—there is pleasure in seeing so much beauty.
I sometimes do volunteer work at the Military Aviation Museum which houses a treasure of vintage war-planes from many countries. Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfort- able with the placement? This modern world we live in seems to be driven by those looking for instant gratification. The public, I think, prefers a pet or show dog that doesn’t require as much grooming and coat care. People are busy with their devices and spontaneous entertainment desire—Afghan Hounds don’t easily fit into that lifestyle preference. I think that Afghan Hounds are less of an ‘impulse’ breed than they were years ago and the people who truly want to own own seem to be better educated on what they are
getting themselves into.
My thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? It shouldn’t mat-
ter. But this is a coated-breed. Patterning ‘can’ fool the eye of a judge as to the balance of the dog—in a negative way. Patterning can be very attractive, but should never be rewarded as a ‘quality’. It shouldn’t be penalized or rewarded. Judge the dog. The hair is col- lateral, but should always be healthy and well-cared for.
Overly-coated dogs can also be hard to judge. A huge coat often hides a dog’s good qualities (angles, length of neck, set under, etc). Is the judge clever enough to trust his hands—and not only his eyes? Let’s face it, this breed is supposed to be judged in its ‘natural state’—god forbid it actually is—the dog would rarely, if ever, win.
My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? Some dogs seem beautifully built to move and cannot. Seek and reward the dogs which are made well and have an open, easy side-gait, equal at both ends. Unfortu- nately, this is where my beloved breed is falling short.
Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? There should always be allowances for the young Afghan Hound who may not be as ‘steady’ in the ring as a little soldier. But there is little excuse for an adult whose behavior is timid, worried, leans away or doesn’t get his tail up to break the plane of his back. This may just not ‘be his day’. But, this cannot be awarded in the ring on the day. Period.
And, it is not a race in the ring. What exactly can the judge surmise from a dog who flies around. Is this a sustainable gait that the hunting hound can maintain over the harsh and unforgiving terrain they endured?
What special challenges do breeders face in our current eco- nomic and social climate? Owner-handlers have to make wise choices in their selection of where to show their dogs. Due to fewer ‘practice classes’ often the actual dog show becomes an expensive handling class.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I love being able to keep my better ‘show candidates’ until around 12 weeks.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Judge the whole dog. It’s got to look like an Afghan Hound and move like one. It’s got to be attractive to look at and efficient when it moves. It’s not a working dog. It’s a ‘sailboat’ of a Hound. Beautiful, sleek and light on its feet.
What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? People who are attracted to beauty and who respect an independent dog are candidates for ownership. Owning an Afghan Hound is a loosely constructed partnership. It’s a negotiated rela- tionship where the human understands that this dog has his own opinion and may or may not agree to everything all of the time. But, in spite of his independence, there is no deeper bond.

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