Rescue Sloughi Tosca, now lovingly owned by Daphne Everett and son Theo.
The Sloughi Club held a most informative seminar in a thoroughly relaxed atmosphere on February 22nd. The day began with a bit of a hiccup which could have been a major problem, for the hall had been double-booked! This must surely be every seminar organiser’s nightmare, but it was soon sorted out by those in charge of the hall and an equally suitable school venue at Four Crosses, a small town just a short drive away on the mid-Wales border, was found in lieu. I’ll bet everyone involved gave a huge sigh of relief.
The first part of the day was dedicated to the Sloughi and the second part to the Azawakh, two very impressive breeds, both hailing from the African continent. Considering the fact that neither breed is numerically strong in the UK, I was impressed at the number of people who had turned out to learn more, and especially by the general experience of many members of the audience. Several were much involved with Afghan Hounds, some of them with decades of experience behind them. This showed in the questions raised by the audience, making for lively debate.
There was discussion about the differences between those Sloughi that had originated in the mountain regions, and those from the desert, and we were privileged to see several hounds together to make comparisons. Maria Goodman and Ted Goodship spoke on this breed, for demonstration purposes using a black mantle brindle, a sand with black overlay, a sand and a red sand.
Another Sloughi in attendance on the day was the two year old Tosca who hailed from the RSPCA kennels and is now safely re-homed with loving owner Daphne Everett and her son, Theo.
There was plenty of opportunity to handle the breed, although I should point out that those present were aware that the Sloughi is characteristically aloof with strangers, so it is important for judges to bear this in mind. It should not be necessary for a judge to over-handle a Sloughi, for most of the dog’s make-up is clearly evident.
A Judges’ Assessment on the Sloughi was taken by several of those present, involving practical and written sections. I feel sure that the relaxed atmosphere of the day helped examinees to achieve a better result than when everyone is put in an incredibly intense situation, as sadly so often happens. Congratulations to the Sloughi people on their handling of this important aspect of training.
After an enjoyable lunch, spent in excellent company, it was the turn of Susannah Kemp to talk on the Azawakh, aided principally by Maria Goodman and other good folk who had been kind enough to bring along their hounds for us to see.
Susannah, who is Swedish but now lives in the UK, explained that there are no prey animals left in the breed’s homeland of Mali, and that all the Azawakhs live almost semi-wild in the Tuareg camps. Generally one bitch in each camp is bred to the alpha male. Some of the hounds at the seminar in fact had a sire from Mali. The speakers explained that there is much ‘variety’, even in the same litter. The head is narrower than that of the Sloughi and this breed has less angulation than most dogs, making for a highly distinctive outline. It is also important for judges to remember that when excited the tail may be carried above the topline.
All those who attended the seminar were undoubtedly pleased to receive hand-outs giving the Proposed Interim Standard for the Azawakh, and useful colour images showing various specimens. Although this breed is not familiar to many people in Britain, there are around 2,000 Azawakh now in Europe, most of them in France and in Germany.
It was bitterly cold both for humans and dogs when we all ventured outside to assess movement, so we soon returned inside and handlers moved their dogs a little more successfully indoors. Again we had a variety of different colours on which to feast our eyes, sand brindle, sand, red, cream sand and red brindle. The brindle colour was, incidentally, only accepted a few years ago.
Azawakhs should have some white on the feet, and this can extend to ‘stockings’ high up the leg. The tail also has a white tip, and one owner was kind enough to explain that the Tuaregs dip the tails of their dogs in various coloured paints when hunting, so that by their colour they can see at a distance which dog is leading.
Indeed there are two captivating breeds that have undoubtedly caught the attention of many, especially those involved with other sight hounds. All credit is due to the Sloughi Club for organising this seminar, and for having included the Azawakh in the day’s events so that those of us who wished to learn more had a wonderful opportunity to do so.
Speaker Maria Goodman showed the audience a Sloughi
Speaker Susannah Kemp gave a most informative talk on the Azawakh