Photo by David Paton
Erika Tonder pictured with Beydira Idi ‘n’ Illeli (imp. Germany)
and the young homebred Ledcameroch Berneray
It seems Britain is a very attractive place to emigrate to if you are a Scandinavian writes David Paton. Countless Swedes, Norwegians and Danes are appearing on the UK dog scene, bringing with them fresh ideas when it comes to showing and breeding.
Now living in Perthshire, Erika Tonder was brought up in Stockholm, Sweden, a place known for cold winters, but came to live in the milder climate of England in 2002. She brought with her International, Swedish, Norwegian & Finnish Champion Na’ema Nyala, a red French bred Azawakh bitch.
Sighthounds became a part of Erika’s life in her late teens; her childhood was spent with Papillons and Poodles. Sighthounds were always an alluring part of the dog world to Erika, and in particular the Afghan Hound. However, an eye catching 4 month old Greyhound puppy caught Erika’s attention during a visit at the Sobers kennel. Sobers Zagitta, later Swedish Champion, went home with her on the day.
Zagitta’s personality led to her litter brother joining her some 6 months later; Sobers Zepher, who was lightly campaigned and was always handled by Erika, finished his International, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and Danish Champion titles as well as a few winner titles. He also won Best In Show at Breed Specialties on two occasions in Sweden, Best In Show at the biggest Sighthound Specialty in Finland and was an All Breed Championship Group winner at the Finnish Kennel Club and the Norwegian Kennel Club. His most astonishing accomplishments however was achieving "The Top Winning Lure Coursing Greyhound".
Although Erika still has a great passion for Greyhounds, she wanted a more exotic breed where she could make a significant contribution by a sensible and sensitive breeding programme. The Azawakh is a rare breed by any standard and has a very limited gene pool. Their situation is unique though as there is still opportunity to breed to dogs from country of origin, in this case Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
So the red Nyala was imported to Sweden in 1998, and whelped the historic first litter of Azawakhs in Sweden in 2001. The litter, which consisted of 5 bitches, proved very successful in the ring and have dominated not only the breed but have done remarkably well in Group competition, consistently being placed at All Breed Championship Shows in the Nordic countries. Four of them are living in Scandinavia, and the fifth is living in the USA with a breeder.
In 2001, her keen interest in sighthounds led Erika, together with friends Susannah Thyni and Inger Gelius, to import a Sloughi "extraordinaire" in the form of Intissar’s Ghania, later Swedish Champion and the historic first Group Winner for the breed at an All Breed Championship show.
Ghania has also been placed in the BIS final at Tammsvik and won Best In Show at the breed specialty in Sweden.
Since moving to the UK, Erika and her partner Phil Martin have extended their Azawakh family with the first import to the UK from Germany, the brindle Beydira Idi ‘n Illeli, who is by one of the top winning males of all time; Multi Ch Ahmar Kel-es-Suf. Her maternal grandmother is an African import and Beydira’s contribution to the UK gene pool in the future will certainly be interesting and valuable.
Nyala has already contributed as she whelped her second litter in 2005, consisting of 6 males and 1 bitch. This litter, bred under the Ledcameroch affix, was also the UK’s second litter of Azawakhs, the first being bred by Mrs Kemp of Zounadu in 2003.
The sire of Nyala’s second litter is a German bred/Czech Republic owned dog, showing just how international the breed is. Four of the seven puppies have been exported; a male went to Sweden, another to Norway and two males were sold to the USA. One male was sold to Wales and the single bitch is on co-ownership in England. A brindle male, Ledcameroch Berneray, was chosen to stay at home.
The future for the breed looks bright, with several imports from different blood lines. There are litters planned for the future, and the work is now progressing to get a breed club approved by the KC and to have the interim Breed Standard approved. This will enable the Azawakh to be entered for competition in the Imported Register classes. The breed has been represented at Discover Dogs at both Crufts and Earl’s Court for the last two years and the interest and enthusiasm for the breed has been evident.
Apart from her involvement in showing and lure coursing, Erika has been involved in several committees in Sweden and in the UK. In the past she has been a founder member and President of the Azawakh & Sloughi Club (Sweden), Committee member and Secretary of the Swedish Greyhound Club, a committee member of The Sighthound Club/Eastern in Sweden, (organiser of the famous Skokloster, now Tammsvik), a founder and committee member of The Stockholm Lure Coursing Club and is currently a founder and committee member of The Azawakh Association of the United Kingdom (Proposed). Erika is also a member of The Greyhound Club and The Sloughi Club here in the UK.
With a background in web design and publishing, Erika is launching a new UK based publication focussing exclusively on sighthounds. "The Sighthound Magazine" will see its first issue launched in June 2006. The aim of the magazine will be to promote all sighthound breeds, and provide a fascinating insight into leading breeders and their dogs.
For more information about the magazine visit the designated website www.sighthoundmagazine.com