Sunday, June 13, 2010

on preservation

I thought this was a great story I heard on NPR this morning about the Navajo Churro sheep breed.I couldn't help but be reminded of the IDI (Azawakh to us) and how they are an integrated part of the culture they come from where a livelihood linked to their livestock is also key.
The Churro is more than just a sheep.And the Azawakh - IDI is more than just a dog.
Preserving the breeds of animals is directly linked with preserving these endangered cultures and traditional ways of life. The constant encroachment of globalization and modernization make it increasingly difficult to "earn a living" within a traditional lifestyle.More and more of the young people leave those traditions behind along with the knowledge of those cultures and the keeping of those practices, including the uniquely specialized animals.
In the story of the Churro, I especially like how the professor managed to work with the herders and elders in the community to establish a breeding program.He was able to reintroduce the keeping of these sheep through-out their native area.
I hope there is still a chance to learn more deeply from the native people of the Sahel.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I thought I would post something since it's been awhile and I see everyone else has cool new stuff up on theirs!The start of summer has been a huge relief, with the finally warmer weather after what seemed like an especially long winter here in NM.School is out too! - So I can finally make some room to go hiking or take that day trip I keep meaning to take. The warmth brings a real sense of revitalization and renewal that, even though spring has progressed for quite sometime, just wasn't truly vibrant and palpable in the air till now. My work has kept me going these past few months and some truly fantastic outings with the dogs lifted my spirits and keep me soaring still!
Late March was a gorgeous time in Southern NM and our day in the field then provided us with mostly a lovely, long walk through the grasslands but it also provided a most memorable trip to the base of the Florida Mtns and the spectacular california poppy bloom that covered the entire base in a brilliant orange blanket. -In juxtaposition with the rocks and the cacti and the brilliant blue sky... I was left transfixed.
(I am grateful to Dan Gauss for guiding me up the jeep roads to see the poppy bloom that day)
Then in early May a few of the dogs and I were finally able to make one last hunting run before the season warmed too much. It was a blustery day, which was good for the longdogs or it may have been too warm to stay out with them. The Azawakhs can take the heat for much longer, but the day would have been worthless without our companions!
We had gorgeous runs with plenty of work turning the hare - my guys were right up there too, in the action with the longdogs! We had two runs with catches and a final run going for a what seemed like a tremendous distance (nearly 4 minutes, if I'm remembering correctly) with turns and straightaways, then more work and turning again, and just when you thought they were going to get it, it went on with the hare outsmarting them... It was incredible! Fantastic! A true exhilaration watching the dogs athleticism and heart. Both desert-breds, Ananas and Chomeissa were my two Azawakh running that day along with Dutch Salmon's amazing longdogs Cowboy, Phyllis and Archie.
Puppy Nizhoni got to walk along and watch the fun. She even jumped up and hit the end of the leash like she was ready to join in. She had a good day chasing bugs and little lizards and interacting with all dogs.
In other news - Hortaya Borzaya, Velika has found a new home in Tuscon, AZ.
She is living with a wonderful lady who loves to hike and is taking her around to all sorts of dog friendly attractions. Velika is sounding like she's having a lot of fun and we wish them both the best in enjoying life together!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The two tongued,two headed,all seeing eye of duality

It's interesting how a version of the truth can be both the truth and so far from it at the same time... Maybe we all play these delusional games with ourselves, not wanting to own the full responsibility of what brought us to this moment in time. If we did see it lay out, all one wrong maneuver, another wrong turn, one after another, never listening to the suggestions or advice that "good friends" try to impart to you... - - You would get to feeling pretty worn down about yourself. So maybe we all need that little piece of fiction, that element that says, it wasn't your fault, you didn't bring this on yourself... ... .. But somewhere, underneath, perhaps not fully realized; the self knows YOU DID. You did bring this all on yourself, you are responsible. This isn't just a bunch of external stuff happening to you. You have actively participated in having this happen.

I think about this for myself- I am in a pretty transitional place along life's path... Sometimes this really gets me down. Jobs,the economy,skills and abilities,planning for the future - falling through the cracks, the world as I knew it turned upside down... versus following my heart, pursuing a dream...a goal, an ambition... trying to build some sort of stable platform to stand on and feel - this is solid. But who is there, when you stumble?

Some people seem to convince the whole world to rally around them, even when they've turned against many of the "friends" that helped along the way.
I would like some help. Maybe if I learn to be a more charismatic, drama-queen, somebody will save me too...?
I doubt it. I will keep working on myself, my education, my dreams and goals the best I can, with mostly my own motivation and strength,a little at a time. And hope, hope there is time enough to get things done.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The character of a desert hunter

Some new pictures of the puppies here. They grow fast and it's fascinating to see which qualities that I was hoping would be produced by this breeding, come through and reveal themselves in these puppies. My purpose in this breeding has been to intensify and solidify the marriage of two 'newer' desert bred bloodlines - That of Taytok and Hatshepsut.
My goals are to preserve the Azawakh in it's natural state, as we found them - as they have been existing for thousands of years in their place of origin in the southern Sahara/Sahelien region of West Africa. This goal is presented with a challenge as soon as we take these hounds out of Africa and "out of context" so to speak.
How does one recapture those traits that make them ideally suited for living in a harsh desert environment, with nomadic livestock herders that expect the working qualities of a guardian and a hunter? How does one evaluate the presence of those traits as we live and dwell in the western world?
For me Tadawelt, the mother of these pups, is a classic, archetypal female.Her structure is moderate and not extreme in any way. She has grace and balanced proportions.Her movement - easy,fluid and agile. Part of what I greatly enjoy about her though are those things you can't see. She has an enormous desire for the chase. And whether we are out for a walk/hiking or out for a real hunting excursion - she is always keeping her mind and eyes keen to movement and an awareness of prey that might show itself. She has a spirited disposition - loyal and independent, thinking for herself yet willing to listen...aloof with strangers, though possibly interested if she decides, and yet affectionate, even downright 'cuddly' with those she is devoted to.
She loves to run and enjoys getting all the puppies and the dogs here to chase her.
She runs with abandon, fearlessly. And it is in these qualities that I see and have had the privilege to experience that I chose to focus on and hopefully pass on to the next generation.
Tadawelt's mother was Imouyene, a half desert bred female,who was out of Taytok.
Taytok was a 'new' African import from Mali, whose first breeding was to Alem'Nemehal. This breeding along with subsequent breedings helped expand the limited
gene pool that exists outside of Africa.
But it seemed to me that often desert bred blood was being used mainly as an outcross to "improve" the european lines which were very limited. It didn't look like there was much of a 'breeding back' to the line of Taytok, in order to really establish a new African line. David Moore/Daoud Abdullah Abdullah did a great amount of work expanding upon the Hatshepsut line, and her influence can be seen throughout
his breeding program. One of Hatshepsut's sons was Safouan and he was the father of Alem'Nemehal. When he was bred to Taytok this brought together the two desert bred lines. Safouan had another son named Kaisoon and he was bred to the half desert bred Imouyene (Taytok x Alem'Nemehal) - this litter produced Tadawelt and succeeded in intensifying and extending the Hatshepsut line,along with the continued presence of David's original foundation lines, and breeding forward to a second generation, the new influence of Taytok.
I chose to breed Tadawelt to Alatokh (Taytok x Alem'Nemehal)in order to 'go back into' the newer Taytok dam line, creating something that is "pure in the strain", while also maintaining the Hatshepsut line influence via Safouan and Alem'Nemehal.
Both the Taytok and Hatshepsut desert bred lines are avid hunters! They are also excellent guardians, but it is especially in their running prowess and ability
that I feel they shine. And it is a reflection on what both human and natural selection has been choosing in their desert environment of the Sahel.This breeding helps to 'set type' and hopes to extend those highly valued characteristics of the Sahel to future generations here in the west.

(To view the entire pedigree,please visit and view the Azawakh database. To read about Taytok please visit Gabi Meissen's website and visit David's website which includes a link to his blog and Gabi's website. One or two individuals from this litter may be available
to permanent,loving,well screened homes. Serious inquiries welcome. Please contact me
for details.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy New Year!

Well it's a new year, or so they tell me. I've often wondered why it is we claim it to be a new year and a time for new beginnings in the middle of winter, when most life
is slowed and new growth lays dormant. Perhaps because in this stillness and cold void of winter, we can reflect back on what has passed and try to see clear of it to make preparations for the future. In this time when the leaves are bare - it is less cluttered than any other season, and the short days and long nights provide ample time for reflecting, sorting and contemplation. So we can renew ourselves within and try to make ready before the arrival of spring and the emergence of new life
occurs. This inward renewal brings a glimmer of hope in the midst of the darkest time.
I hope everyone is finding that kernel of renewal inside themselves for the
New Year.

Over the Christmas and New Years holiday we've taken advantage of some time off
and made good on travels around the area to go see and do some things.
Hounds Tadawelt and Ananas joined me in meeting up with friends Dutch Salmon and Dan Gauss for a lovely day of hunting. They had with them - Galgo Sandia and Longdogs
Ashley,Angie and Cowboy. Cowboy was a handsome new addition to Dutch's group with a
deep dark black brindle color that reminded me of another dog, Tiwul,who was also quite beautiful in her time. Cowboy is a gift from a woman in Georgia and he can
really pour it on out in the field.
I began with both my hounds on leash and alternated having one in slips.Tadawelt had not been out running or hunting for 8 months,since April, and having been pregnant and given birth to a litter of puppies in August. So, I chose to walk her and let her warm up and reacquaint herself with things to start out with while giving Ananas the first turn out.
The day started off pretty cold and gray with a forecast of precipitation for the afternoon.So it felt like we better get out while we can,in case something did materialize and then it would be time to retreat indoors again. Dan and Dutch had already been walking around and were finding hares pretty quickly. After I got there
and started off with Ananas, we didn't have to walk for long before one revealed itself. That one ran out and gave a couple turns before outsmarting the dogs and going through a fence.
Now, it was Tadawelt's turn - Again, it wasn't too long walking, though we had gained
some distance from that fence, before we found another. All the dogs moved out smartly and it seemed the whole group were on top of this hare right away. There was swooping and swirling - a flow of curves and turns faster than I could perceive.
And in the next instant they had caught it! Ashley or Sandia - I'm not sure who...
But they were all right there and they figured it was 'chow time'! There was a bit of a 'tug-of-war' and each hound got a little before we were able to take it. Tadawelt surprised me by actually giving it up to another dog. Then Sandia stole the whole thing and had to be persuaded to give up his lunch.
After getting back on the move, we walked for a very long time and Ananas was quite fed up with walking in slips. She was reluctantly trudging along behind.
Tadawelt was on high alert, still hoping for another chance at lunch. So,I switched
them, and put Tadawelt back into slips to run again. The next one we finally found gave her a really long running workout that she hadn't experienced for eight long months. It went on and on till they were out of sight,over the horizon. She really
put herself into overdrive, and even though she trailed behind the faster longdogs,
she never quit. She put all her heart and desire into it, running the distance.
She also gave me a thrill by returning with the whole group of dogs and finding me right away. It was truly thrilling to see her give it her all and have such a grande time in the pursuit.
Even though we walked on for quite awhile, we did not find another hare before returning to the vehicles. I let Ananas off lead to roam around freely with the rest
of the group. And in this she did well and to my relief did not just run off on her own. The day had turned gorgeous with sunshine by then and walking all morning out
in these grande,open spaces had me feeling uplifted - A breath of fresh air in my spirit. Days out in the landscape, experiencing the moment are essential to some of that inner renewal. I am thankful to have had such a day.