Reza and Soleil on the Couch

{youtube}O2HI9WlH0Jk{/youtube}

Pics and Soleil's First Show Class

























HALP















Sometimes, I want to club that baby seal











I'm crushing your head


Bunny feet




First show class:














KC Friend holding Reza:


Puppy Torture Bath Time










































































New Puppy

We contacted Lola Anderson of Watling St. Afghan hounds back in October. We'd seen her stock way back when we first got Joey at the breeder's cup in Maryland, but she's not a "big name" in the breed, doesn't breed very often and hasn't bred anything since the bitch that we'd seen. People know her though and always had nice things to say about her dogs. Her dogs are very primitive looking, very correct all around, good coursers and have phenomenal movement.

We were talking with Maso's breeder of Ibizans and she mentions that Lola lives close to her and had we ever heard of "Watling St." afghans? We told her we remember the bitch from MD and she suggested we just make a contact with her. When we called, we told her that we liked her stock and were wondering if she had a litter planned in the future. She informed us that Luna the mom would be going into heat in about a month's time and then should have a litter in a couple months god willing. The sire is Spencer Ch. Watling Street Starstruck--he finished at 14 mos, with 3 specialty majors, and won the huge puppy class at the nationals and every day on subsequent specialties the following days and Lola was approached to have him be backed by Lou Gerrero and Chris Pinkston. She declined their offer,which she sort of regrets today as he was probably a Best in Show dog. He was OFA'd at 2 yo and was excellent and she re-OFA'd him at 8 yo before the breeding to make sure his hips were still great and he was still excellent. The mom is OFA good, is singled out, has multiple major reserves, and is a very nice bitch, but hated to show, so when she hit 5 yo, Lola decided to go ahead and breed her. We told her exactly what we wanted in a puppy: bitch, small, amazing front, fiesty as shit, possibly patterned, good lure instinct.

This is what we got, a tulip named Soleil :

{youtube}IlDhcR8Xouo{/youtube}

(50% in Reza turns into a spaz :3)

We met the breeder at a show in Wichita this last weekend to pick up the little smut-face. She's adorable and as you can see, gets along with our guys great. She's got a fabulous conformation so far and we have really high hopes. Selma's flown out to Iowa twice to visit the breeder, 2 days post breeding and when the puppies were 4 weeks. She gave us 2nd pick bitch, but in what we wanted, she was our first pick anyway. I think everyone that took a puppy from that litter got their choice pick.

She's a smart little shit, always looking to get into something. She's also a sweetheart, cuddling up for love, but if you try to get her to sit in your lap in the car, she will wander about and try to get into trouble. After about 15 minutes of struggling, we tossed her in the back with the other 3 dogs (Reza, Joey and Suri (our friends whippet we showed/coursed in Wichita)). After trying to climb over the soft-crate divider wall we set up between the front and back seats for about 20 minutes, She fell right into place and was cuddling up against Reza.

I thought it would jinx us to post an anticipation thread. We almost got an Azawakh puppy in the fall that fell through because the puppy, 3 days before we were supposed to meet the breeder to pick her up, tried to climb out of its expen that was topped and clipped, got its leg caught, broke it and hung for an hour until they got back to find it passed out. The puppy's leg was pinned and its ok, but severe injuries is not something you want in a show/coursing prospect.


More Pictures of the hellion. She's definitely the most troublemaking little puppy we've ever had.



Princess:






























At the lure coursing trial on Sat. Her two sisters are in the expen with her.













































































Table stacks.












Car ride home. Not one mess in the car.



Going Out West

This is what we were hunting: Black-tailed Jackrabbit. You can check the wiki article on it. Just know that it's a true hare, not a rabbit/bunny, and runs about 40-45 mph. It is serious game for even greys and salukis, with matched top speeds. Also in the area are desert cottontails, but the two are instantly distinguishable. When you flush a hare, it tucks its tail so the black stripe down the back/hind are visible. When a cottontail pops, all you see is that fluffy white tail as it speeds away.

We arrived on Thursday night. My first order of business after the second day of 2 12 hour drives was to stop in the first Wal Mart I saw in New Mexico. I wanted to make sure that we had those licenses. If we go to our destination city and they had a problem with the licenses, like the pads were empty or whatever, I wanted to make sure that I took as many first options to get the licenses as possible. We hit Las Cruces @ about 8 PM and just caught the gun/knife lady as she was leaving. She was nice enough to stay and cut us a couple licenses. We picked up an extra pair of binocs.

Speaking of, I guess this is as good a point as any to talk about gear. We talked to several OFCers before we left, getting advice on gearing, water, rest, food and whatever else we could bounce off them. First up, the pants. If there's a plant growing in the New Mexico desert, there's a 99% chance that it's pokey and wants to hurt you. You have to have a good pair of gaiters: those are the calf coverings that cinch below the knee and cover the fore and rear of the lower leg down to the ankle. We tried and tried, but couldn't find any hunting/outdoors stores in Birmingham that carried them. We instead opted for brier pants that have reinforced full-front legs and reinforced rear calf legs, like sewn in chaps. They were wonderful, and I'd probably recommend those above gaiters only because you get the frontal quad protection, and there was plenty of shit that grew above the knees.

As far as water goes, it's recommended that you carry 2 gallons; one for you and one for the dogs. The best way to do that is camelbacks. Or dogs can drink out of hoses and squirt bottles, so instead of watering them out of those collapsible bowls and wasting what they don't drink, we'd just bend over and open the bite valves and squirt water into the sides of their mouths. This was quick, efficient and we didn't have to break down packs/bottles whenever they wanted a drink. We carried an extra canteen on our belts for spares.

Food: We packed sandwiches, bananas, jerky, string cheese and energy bars. The jerky and the cheese was mostly for the dogs after a course for energy replenishment in the field. We fed them in the morning before setting out a light meal and some extra breakfast meat from Denny's, and gave them a 1.5 meal in the evening.

Other shit to pack: multitools, a slip lead per dog, a prong collar + nylon lead per dog, coursing blankets (yellow/pink/blue), binoculars, sunglasses that wrap your face (the wind is rough and god help you if it blows sand), a hat, suntan lotion, biners for utility, biodegradable baby wipes (for... you know), a compass and a loud ass whistle. There's no way your voice will travel 1.5-2 miles away once your dog has finished a course, but the right whistle will. Dogs should be whistle trained before heading out there to come when called by it. Once a hunting is going, you DO NOT MOVE. This is so the dog can retrace its steps and come back to you, and so that you do not inadvertently flush any other hare while out there.

As for the hunt, when you're not on the line, you have your dogs on prong collars and 6ft nylon leads. This is to prevent the dogs from pulling you all over the place and wasting their energy. Once you're "on the line," you are the hunter that is ready to slip the dog in that course. Your dog is now blanketed and you put them on a slip lead. The hunters walk in the middle of all the people, out in front, in a line across: yellow, pink and blue. To the left and right of the hunters are the "galleries." There are the people in your hunting party that aren't on the line, but it's their job to flush the hare. They form lines out to either side of the hunters, one arm length from each other, and walk in a wing-like line. Here's one thing I didn't comprehend at first: to flush a hare, you nearly have to step on it. A hare will sit still, in hiding, until the very last moment it thinks it can get away with. so the gallery members aren't only watching up to see a hare pop 4-10 feet in front, but they're looking at their feet for any hare that are holding tight, hoping to be passed by. Selma actually had one pop behind her, pass her within inches and run forward of the hunt. You seriously have to step on the little bastards.

You want to keep the hunters up front so that if a hare pops off to the side, the hunters are able to sight their hounds' heads to the hare, and have a clean release. The judge also needs to be up close to the hunters or off on a hill, overlooking the hunts and telling the huntmaster where to direct the field.

So the first day, we all meet for breakfast, chow down a large meal that will last the day, run some introductions, have a minor roll call and get the hunt assignments and blanket colors. We caravan out to the field, park, potty dogs and roll call is a simple "HERE" when your name is called. The hunting parties are off in about 15 minutes from parking. First up on Saturday were Reza and Joey in a course with a Pharaoh hound. They're running in "Mixed Stake" which is composed of every sighthound breed except Borzoi, Saluki and Greyhounds that day. It can be made of any breed without 5 or more dogs attending that day. If you have 5, you can have a "Breed Stake." Also in mixed were 2 more whippets and an ibizan.

Selma and I are walking Reza and Joey on the line. We popped the hare that ran straight out, but unfortunately, we were facing into some pretty high cover. Not just grass, but mesquite, yuccas and other large scrub. Reza and Joey had good sight on the hare, with Reza chasing it the longest. The Pharaoh was pretty much released unsighted. Since the course was so short, the judge decides to rerun the course. The second course goes about like the first, but unfortunately even shorter. The judge then decides to use the scores from the first course that day as the prelim scores. The whippet/whippet/ibizan course went much longer, being released not facing into tall cover. After the prelims are done, the judge chooses 3 dogs to advance to the finals: the 2 whippets and Reza.

We're pretty satisfied with that, but unfortunately, we weren't listening to our dogs. Once the course was over, Reza began looking paniced, uncomfortable and would jump up on us and would lay down and refuse to move. In the mean time, Joey was plowing onward, not looking fatigued/bothered in the slightest. We tell Reza to man up and drag her around the field for the next 7 hours. We'd gone out to a friend's property, 160 acres, to have a pre-run with the dogs and see what we were up against in terms of coat issues. Reza's still in full show coat, so we figured we'd vet wrap the forelegs and hocks, and that'd be fine. Well, it wasn't and she was constantly picking up full bushes of thorns in between her rear legs, thighs and chest.

The solution? Little girl tights. We run to walmart, buy up a shitton of vet wrap, a roll of ducktape and 2 pairs of little girls tights. We wrap her hocks and forelegs, like planned. We then pull the tights up-over her rear, cut out the crotch of the tights, duck tape the bottoms to the vet wrap and stitch the top to her coursing blanket. BRILLIANT! We're so fucking smart.

So we're trudging the field, waiting and waiting and the hare are sparse as shit. We also had 3 failed slips where people release the dogs unsighted and 2 where the judge/huntmaster failed to sight the hare and didn't call Tally-Ho. It was a frustrating day, to say the least, and peoples' fuses were getting short with each other. We just had to stick around to run Reza in Finals. I decide, once we cross over the road, to ask the huntmaster to be excused to go put Joey up so I'd be free to walk other peoples' dogs if need be. I run him to the car, call Maso, and head back out to the hunt. Meanwhile, Reza is still acting like a spaz, but we notice that her feet are a little inflamed and raw in a couple spots. I had a can of Lanacane first-aid spray with soothing shit in it, so we spray up her feet and keep walking. This seems to help a bit.

We get to about 4:30 PM and have just finished the last course of greyhounds and the end of prelims... doesn't look like we'll be getting to finals today. That last course was a beautiful one, with the greys staying on the hare for over a mile, really putting some hard turns on it, but in the end, not catching it. None of the courses in our hunt caught a hare that day, but in the other field, with the 22 salukis, I believe there were 3 hares caught, two of them being unassisted kills by a dog meaning the hare wasn't turned into the dog for a catch, but the dog overtook and killed the hare.

We get back to the hotel, and little did we realize, but it was time to pay the piper. We take Reza's tights off and discover: she's matted, to the skin, from her hock up to her waist. The tights caused friction mats that would take about 12 man-hours to brush out, no lie. In addition, she was matted under her blanket and had a huge ball mat between her front legs/chest. Selma and I started frantically brushing, to get in as much work as possible before the Hunter's Dinner that night. We get some done, head to dinner and talk to some really nice saluki people whose dogs had two of the kills that day. We're beat to hell from walking, what I'd guess was over 10 miles across the fields, and head back after some prime rib. We got our placements and ribbons at dinner: Reza got fourth and Joey got fifth! We take out nice, pretty ribbons and spend the next 2-3 hours on Reza, brushing and brushing.

We make the decision not to run her the next day because there's no way 1. we'd have her coat brushed out and 2. even if we did, there's no way we were going to remat her because he coat couldn't take anymore damage and remain showable. I volunteer to spend the next day in the car, brushing her out and tell Selma that I will rejoin the hunt the next day once finished, but leave Reza in the car.

Selma gears up for day 2 with Joey. Joey's in fantastic shape and spirits and is ready to kick ass and take names. Selma heads off as i head down into the car and start grooming. Not one hour into grooming and I see the real problem: it's not the mats or even the raw spots that were bugging her, she never stepped on a cactus... it was the speargrass. I'd never heard of the stuff until I started pulling them out of her and asking people and researching on google. Spear grass has these seeds that are thin and sharp as a pin, little over 1/2" long, with 3 little hairs coming out the rear. In the front, it can easily slide right into skin, as deep as it wants to go, and can completely embed. They stick to fleece clothing alot, but on shorthaired dogs like greys, they are easily visible and dealt with. All of the other breeds had no issues with the stuff, but because of the silky afghan coat, it was perfect for picking up, holding onto to allowing the grass to work its way into the skin. I pulled out some of them that were stuck almost all the way in, over 1/2". Poor Reza. She had at least 15-20 stuck in between each of her toes, more stick out of the top of her toes, more under and in the webbings.

Once I discovered this, I changed my focus. I had to pull everyone of the little fuckers out with my multi-tool needle nose pliars. The best part of this mission: the grass is the same color as her coat 70% of the time. I could forget about leaving the car for the rest of the day. I did however keep tabs on where Selma was in the lineup and got up on top of the car to watch Joey's prelim run with some binocs.

He had a fantastic run the second day. He was first sighted and off the line. He lead the chase on the hare for the first 1/4 of the course. He was in with a whippet and a sloughi (!). Once the other two got sight of the hare, their higher speeds kicked in and overtook Joey. From then on, Joey played catchup, but he never let up and ran hard for about a mile. He got to the end, all the dogs were unsighted, and decides its the appropriate time to go around and mark things. He also played a bit on the field with the sloughi girlie, but I think she would rather take his big, dumb face off and go back to hunting. Selma was screaming (instead of using her whistle) for him. I'm yelling at her to use the damn whistle. I jump in the car and drive down the road that they crossed over and try to call him from down the road, but lose sight of him while driving. Selma calls me and is crying, thinking Joey headed for the hills.

Here's one thing that kept me calm: We never taught either dog to "fence." There are barbed wire fences all over the fucking place out there to keep cattle contained. The bottom strand is smooth, unbarbed, so that smaller animals and such can pass through unharmed. Well, in coursing, you teach hounds to shoot UNDER that smooth strand because if they try to jump it or one above, they're going to get torn up. Well, I figured that since we never taught them they're passable, they'll just see the wall and stop. Thankfully, I was right and I spot Joey off to the left of where I thought he should be, call him, and he comes trotting up to the car. What a good boy. He ran hard, came back when called and made us proud. Our good little hunter.

Selma takes him back out to rejoin the hunters after some watering at the car. The huntmaster excuses her and Joey for the day because he didn't make finals, and we're officially done. I explain the severity of Reza's nettletude and how we're in for some serious work. We head back to the hotel and do nothing for the rest of the night but pull nettles and brush coat. That day, I alone logged about 15 hours of work on her between brushing and plucking out speargrass. I am still finding straggler spear grass seeds up through today, 10 days out. I'm worried about infection, but hope that they are just passed out through her skin. What a pain in the ass. Joey on the other hand was perfectly fine because we'd shaved his feet Friday night and had shorter hair all over otherwise.

Other than that, it was an interesting, fatiguing and amazing experience. I don't think I'd take an afghan hound back out there, but maybe again one day. The dog would have to be shaved to the skin, even between the toes and the underside of the pads. Watching some of the other breeds, like borzoi, greyhounds and saluki, runs was breathtaking. Saluki were especially phenomenal, and if I ever had to pick an open field breed to own, it'd be them. Other than that, Selma, maso and I are thinking about starting up some local cottontail hunting with the afghans and beezers. cottontail, while they don't have the 45 mph top speed (only 25 mph) are still very challenging because of much higher agility and their ability to "go to ground" or duck into rabbit holes. You have to have quick, agile dogs in order to successfully course them much of the time. Also, we wouldn't have to drive 24 hours to get there.

Anyway, on to the pics. I unfortunately only have a point and shoot camera, so there are no "action shots." You need to have an awesome camera with a good telephoto lens in order to get those.

CLICK ANY FOR LARGE

Day before, on our friend's land:








Saturday:























Sunday: