Page 261 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 261

                AFGHAN HOUND Q&A
“These dogs are not simply well-groomed show pieces
that fly around a show ring. They need to fully under- stand how structure meets function and study what they were originally bred for. Judges need to see them in ac- tion to fully understand how they fulfill their purpose.”
intelligence with independence, instinct, aloofness or just plain stubbornness. I think most of the time they “own” us, not the other way around. My Afghans are very intelligent and know all basic obedience commands which can be taught at a very young age. Afghans can excel in agility and other performance events.
What special challenges do breeders face in our current eco- nomic and social climate? It seems like many people don’t have the time for a long-coated breed that requires maintenance in our busy society. It has become extremely difficult to find good homes that meet all of our needs.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I can tell basic signs at only a few weeks, but like to fully evaluate them around eight to ten weeks. They sometimes fall apart after this, but usually return to what you saw at that age. You will be able to see attitude right away as soon as they can walk.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? These dogs are not simply well-groomed show pieces that fly around a show ring. They need to fully under- stand how structure meets function and study what they were origi- nally bred for. Judges need to see them in action to fully understand how they fulfill their purpose.
What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? This seems to be a difficult topic. The best way, in my opin- ion, is to be honest about all aspects of the breed and sport. I don’t feel like newcomers get the attention they deserve. We need to invite them into our homes and kennels, teach them about the breed, show them the grooming process, surround them with knowledge- able people they can rely on, and allow them to make educated deci- sions on whether this is the breed and/or sport for them.
My ultimate goal for the breed? Preservation. Afghan Hounds are one of the oldest breeds still in existence and we need to practice sound breeding practices or this wonderful breed will be lost.
My favorite dog show memory? I can still remember when I won my first Best in Show like it was yesterday. My dad, Joel Rosenblatt, ran into the ring crying and hugged me so hard that I can still feel it. He was never a man to show that type of emotion in public, so it was very special to me. I miss him every day.
I live in S. Central, Pennsylvania. My other interest is try- ing to ride my horse. This has been a very long journey because I started way too late, had major setbacks and bought two basically untrained horses. That, combined with my lack of skills, has made a very frustrating hobby seem like a hike to the top of Mt. Everest.
My involvement with Afghan Hounds really started in the late 70s. That was when they were at the height of their popularity. I know that at one point in the 80s, it took 32 bitches for a three- point major. I think it took five or six just to get a single point. Now it takes five or six for a three-point major We have gone from popu- lar to a rare breed in my showing lifetime. Gone are the great breed- ers whose dogs you could pick out from across the show grounds. Kennel type was obvious back then. The look was important to those breeders. Now, unfortunately, we have “high volume inter- net puppy providers” who all of a sudden can make up champions
because there is no competition, the point system allows most any- thing that walks upright to finish and now they can proudly adver- tise their CH bloodlines.
My thoughts on patterned vs. fully coated? Or the difference between a dog that can win a specialty vs a dog that can win an all-breed BIS. Rarely will you see a beautifully patterned Afghan Hound (especially a bitch) in a BIS line-up. They should be equal in the ring, but most judges aren’t impressed unless the Afghan Hound in the ring is heavily coated, trimmed beautifully and acts like a high stepping parade pony.
My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? Our standard is specific in its description of the Afghan Hound movement. It is not an exagger- ated mover, it is a balanced mover. Everything should fit to make a strong, athletic hunter. A high stationed front, sloping toppling and crouching rear is trendy now. The breed has survived trends throughout the years and will come back to the classically beautiful, balanced King of Dogs that I fell in love with from a Dog Encyclo- pedia. The standard is our blueprint. Nowhere in our standard is there a mention of exaggeration, pretty, lifty or bouncy gaits. The word “strong” is mentioned eight times, I think. An Afghan Hound neck thrown back over the shoulders like the modern Poodle is not strong and that hound would have trouble reaching down to grab prey. Each body part needs to be strong and in balance to do the job it was bred to do. Balance, not exaggeration.
I’d like to dispel the misconception that Afghan Hounds are stupid. They were bred to be independent hunters. Years ago, Stan- ley Coren wrote a book stating that Afghan Hounds had the lowest intelligence and were hard to train. This blew up on news shows, late night hosts were laughing about Afghan Hounds being the dumbest dog. Coren stated that Border Collies were the most intel- ligent. Somehow Dave Frei got invited to the Maury Povich show to have a show down between the two breeds. So, Julie Messersmith and I headed to NYC with Ch. Pahlavi Puttin’ on the Ritz and his very titled son, Ch Pahlavi Pizzazzz. The big showdown on air was pretty much a bust and the show never got aired. The takeaway from the show for me was that Stanley Coren was an ascot wearing, pompous idiot who got lucky that people were talking about him and his book. I remember Coren came into the green room while I was brushing my dog and he shoved a piece of Pupperoni in his face. I said, “My dog doesn’t eat chemicals,” and he turned and walked away without saying a word to me. So, the answer to the question is Afghan Hounds are very trainable, but you must approach in a different way. They hate to be bored so your time frame is about 10-15 minutes.
What special challenges do breeders face in our current econom- ic and social climate? We have talked most buyers out of owning an Afghan Hound, so now we have the challenge of finding responsible buyers who will fence their yard, groom every week and provide some mental stimulation so a mischievous puppy doesn’t destroy their house. We have a number of those “internet puppy breeders” who sell to anyone who sends the money. Buyers want the quick and easy access to a puppy and don’t usually tolerate the inquisition that responsible breeders make them go through. Sadly, the instant gratification buyers dump the dogs in rescue, rescue places in good

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