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.