Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thinking of Azawakh instead of all the wildfires...

I thought I would experiment with taking an in depth look at some of the dogs here. Take a look at examining their strengths and weaknesses. What I like about them, what I think makes them "good" Azawakhs. I may include some posts about past dogs, those that have moved on in one form or another, whether to a new home or in the physical incarnation sense.
I sure need something to take my mind off all the wildfires in the area right now or I will get too down-trodden and you just can't be that mopey when it's summer!
We are severely limited in our opportunities for outdoor recreation right now, which I have to say is always one of my primary objectives. Taking myself out and sometimes a dog too for a walk/run or hike somewhere is one of the best ways I can think of to spend a good portion of the day. Right now we have the Santa Fe National Forest closed, the Jemez mountains and any number of trails in that area, including Bandalier are closed (along with the somewhat unsettling idea of a nuclear laboratory - Los Alamos being very near in the path of this wildfire) - and as a precaution, Sandia mountain and all of those trails save about one, are closed.
I went to Tent Rocks this past weekend, on Saturday. It was crowded! Already seeming to feel the strain of closures from the Pacheco fire in the Santa Fe Nat.Forest. The next day the LasConchas fire began in the Jemez. That first night was a scene out of some armagedon movie... The view from here provides a direct line of sight to the Jemez and I could see this whole ridge of flames moving across, spreading wider. The smoke curls in a thick plume blocking out the other plume of smoke north of Santa Fe and at night the view of the mountains glows orange. Now we are expecting the 'monsoons' to be moving in... I hope this brings relief and not the threat of lightning as this whole state seems so dry that you wouldn't want to rub two sticks together let alone anything else. I'm sure everyone is holding their breath headed into the 4th of July holiday around here. (Tent Rocks is also closed now)
So, what to do once it's too hot to work in the garden? Well, start sizing up the dogs in hopes of better adventures soon!
I'll start with Nizhoni. She is out of Tadawelt. The first and only breeding I've done thus far.
I can't imagine having a litter of pups every year or more than one a year, yet I know people do that. That is their choice but to me every several years would be more than plenty. I guess I lack that single-mindedness of purpose... I get into various grooves, like my art groove - and it is like living in a completely different world, different mindset than my Azawakh groove. Really, I would like to see these distinct facets of my life be more in conjunction with each other rather than the separate worlds they inhabit now.... but anyway - - I like to see how the pups are developing and if they exhibit that intensity of spirit essential to Azawakh. I want to see that they are athletic and actually self-motivated to get up and just run and chase for fun. I like seeing the way the pups challenge each other and Nizhoni is almost always the one being chased!
She is the smallest of the litter, being female, at about 32lbs, but certainly the fastest so far as I can tell and certainly the most coordinated of the group. She starts off playbowing and getting someone riled up until, sure enough, she has them chasing her all over the backyard!
She is a terror on her brother, mercilessly grabbing over his neck (even though he is much taller than her) or at his hock in a mock battle of 'you are my gazelle'. Sometimes she joins up with her sister, Moonshadow to go after her brother here. Of course, her brother, Chewie, can give as good as he gets! (Another brother, who I would say is the most physically harmonious of the group outside of Nizhoni went to a good friend. More about him in another post.)
I like to see that desire to run for the pure joy of it being very strong in the Azawakh I prefer. To me they are essentially sighthounds! And as that, they are first and foremost running dogs. Their body type alone betrays what their essential function is and
for me it is essential to maintain the ability to run and desire to chase game in the breed.
Of course they are a dual purpose or dual function breed, when you look at their traditional, daily existence in Africa. But, so far in all the years that westerners have been visiting the breed in the Sahel and doing good work there and bringing new imports to the west.... so far though, no one has ever embarked on an in-depth study of how certain groups still utilize the dogs there or what hunting traditions have been passed down or are threatened from the current situations there. No one from the west has really sought to understand them as running dogs because that wasn't important to the westerners seeking this breed in their countries of origin thus far. Their priority instead was expanding the limited western gene pool. Certainly, a very important endeavor and one I was pleased to help with myself. But really studying the 'Idi' as "gazehound" in their native lands and those traditions past and present, has not been very deeply probed as it has with their gazehound cousins from Afghans to Salukis to Tazis and Sloughis. The emphasis so far has been on the outward appearance and physical type along with an over-emphasis on color.The reasons why an Azawakh is shaped like it is, so similar to it's previously mentioned cousins, so similar to all gazehounds in fact, has so far been almost completely overlooked by enthusiasts and proponents of the breed. For me their running and hunting ability is an essential point of the breed. Preserving those qualities in the breed will naturally help maintain the correct look,type and health of the breed and help balance against those selections made on a purely outward appearance. Interestingly, most of the desert bred imports have a keen hunting instinct ( along with some other more perceptive traits..) and are good running hounds. I have to say a good running hound is different than a competitive running hound. I'll talk more about this is along with other points covered here in further posts. But to wrap things up for now I' ll say that Nizhoni shows large amounts of those traits I like to see in my Azawakh - big heart-full of desire- loves to run, tons of enthusiasm, intensity and energy. Nice, compact shape, well proportioned, good muscle, great feet. She is a real cutie and just plain tons of fun to have around. I'm sure to post more about her since she is such a character.

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