Reigh Abram (Dureigh Afghan Hounds)
Comments on The Breed Standard, Parent Club Role, Breeding Programs, Current State of the breed and the Future Outlook for the Breed
(Summary compiled by Steve Tillotson Jan 2012)
In an interview recorded in the early 1980's Reigh Abram expressed her thoughts on some aspects of the The Breed Standard, Parent Club Role and Membership Of The Club, , Breeding Programs, The Current State of the Breed and the Future Outlook for the Breed . We summarize the relevant details from the interview below.
(Clafification needed - Teeth) - There are a couple of places in the Standard I would like to see some changes. For instance, I would like to see some disqualifications in some places - like in teeth, and I don't mean the side teeth the parent club is griping about. I've watch closely since the parent club sent out the notice to judges to check the teeth. And I've seen very few judges that are paying any attention to it. Side teeth don't make any great difference to me. I had a dog with a flip tooth that finished in six shows and I talked to Rosenberg about it. He said the dog could eat and that anyone who would penalize that beautiful puppy for that tooth was just looking for something to put hi8m down for. I feel the same way. I checked teeth very closely at the Detroit Specialty and I found only one dog that had side teeth missing. I don't feel it's important enough for the parent club to have sent out notices to judges to check them because I don't think it seen as often as they give the impression it is.
(Disqualification - Size) - Disqualifications you would like to see in the standard? -Size mainly, I find, in traveling all over the country, that the Afghans have gotten very much back to "normal" size. They're not nearly as huge as they were five to ten years ago, so they're getting back to normal size, thankfully. I don't think you see as much overall coarseness either, although some of them have much more backskull than I like to see, they're overall, not as coarse. That seems to have improved.
(Clarification needed - bite) - I'd like to have a clarification that that part of the Standard that talks about the bite. It says the correct bite is a level bite .... and I've had perhaps six level bites in all the years we've been breeding. It's primarily a scissors bite. "They" say a level bite is hard to come, so they'll have the scissors bite. Why don't they cut the "level bite" out altogether? I don't see why it's mentioned at all.
(Clarification needed - holding tail up) - I'd like to see this tail business clarified. Originally, the Afghan was used to hunt, and the tail was to slowly come up as the dog moved out. He wasn't to keep his tail up all the time. I don't like to have people hold up the dog's tail when I'm judging. As the dog moves his tail is supposed to come up so the hunter can keep track of him in the brush, he isn't supposed to stand in the ring with the tail up all the time.
(Parent Club Should Take A More Active Role) - I can live with the Standard and I wouldn't like to see it tampered with too much. I would however, like to see it lived up to and enforced. I'd like to see the parent club take a more active role in the interpretation of the standard - somehow. They have a traveling board ad I would like to see them have meetings, or something, for everyone. These novices would then have someone or someplace in authority to go to ask questions and they wouldn't have to talk to ten people and get ten different answers. There should be somewhere they could go to get ONE answer. I don't feel the parent club is doing quite the job it could do.
COMMENTS ON THE BREED TODAY (1980)
(Lack of reach) - The thing the breed is lacking today is reach, but that's because nine out of ten Afghans have a straight shoulder. It's almost impossible to find good shoulder. They can't reach and cover ground, so the front isn't able to take the stress of the hindquartes, if the should is straight. They can't go into the field and work as they were meant to. The excuse many breeders make is that they're not IN the field, working but they SHOULD be able to do the things they were meant to do to function properly. I don't fine rear-ends as big as problems as the fronts. If a dog can't reach and can't take the punishment, the rear-end sends up to the front, its not going to hold up. I went to a lecture by Rachel Page Elliot and it was very informative as to what is wrong with the front assembly of Afghans today. You see them flip flopping in front at the pasterns or pitty-patting around with no reach whatsoever at the shoulder and its because the shoulder has no angulation whatsoever. The shoulder starts too high at the withers!
(Springy Gait) "Spring" - I saw a dog win a specialty that looked like he was walking on a waterbed! As that dog moves, the topline is supposed to stay level. It's not supposed to go up and down in the air. I think people get the meaning of "spring" confused. They say so "look at the spring in that dogs gait" when he's jumping up and down and all four feet are off the ground at the same time! An Afghan isn't supposed to move that way. His back foot is supposed to come up right where his front foot left, and he's supposed to singletrack. He can't singletrack and have all four feet off the ground at the same time, so "spring" is something that's very debatable.
(Temperament) - I feel temperament has improved but whether it's for good or bad, I don't know. I don't think an Afghan is supposed to act like a Poodle, It's supposed to be aloof, haughty and elegant, and you don't have that with a Poodle disposition. Still, I think they've been in this country a long time, shown and handled, and people know better now how to take care of them, so the temperaments have improved. In the old dogs, when we had Arthea breeding, you couldn't get your hands on half the dogs. Reigh was asked about the first Afghans and their temperaments which were reputed to be problematical. Reigh responded - I've seen one strain that I think is insane! I don't think if an Afghan is handled properly, and handled as a puppy, and is with people, that it'll go back into a shell. But with insanity, you can't do anything! It's there and the dog will attack without warning. It will attack its master as well as strangers. I think the temperaments are MUCH better today than they were a few years ago.
COMPARISIONS WITH THE BREED TODAY VS PAST YEARS
(Lack of linebreeding) - How has the breed suffered in the past years? - Reigh responded - They've been bred wrong. The majority of Afghans are combinations of a lot of different lines so some of them come up with the faults at EVERY line. They haven't been inbred. I admire Wally Pede to no end because, regardless of whether Wally and I might agree or disagree about what's right or wrong about an Afghan he has strictly linebred and stuck to what he believed. I don't like to see someone jumping here and there. Just because a dog went Best In Show someplace, people will run to breed to it, whether it fits into their lines or not. These people have no breeding program whatsoever. It's whoever is winning at the moment that they breed to, so, naturally the Afghan breed has deteriorated.
We are pretty much the only/one of the few, breeders that are linebreeding. I don't know of anyone else that has really stuck to it, except the Pedes. In the old days we had several breeders who stuck to linebreeding. We had Marjorie Lartrop with her Majara dogs who were strictly linebred, almost to the point of being inbred. We had Sunny Shay who, in the old days, also linebred. We had Laura Froelich with her Elcoza Afghans and Bobbie Tongren with BenGhazi. Of course now, the BenGhazi and Dureigh lines have been crossed so many times that I doubt if either of us have a pedigree not carrying each others dogs. When I bred to BenGhazi, though, I still felt I was more or less linebreeding. She had a litter brother of Int Ch. Yenghis Khan, whom I had bred to, in her background. She also had Five Miles Penjia in the background and we started with two Five Mile bitches. We also both had Riverside dogs in our backgrounds. BUT, we all started with linebred dogs.
There are several lines today that bred within their own kennels, but they started out with combinations, so when they cross their own dogs back and forth, they are not linebreeding. They are only ending up with some more of the same combination.
PARENT CLUB ROLE AND AHCA MEMBERSHIP
The Parent club should, perhaps, have open meetings for anyone and everyone who is interested in the bred, after they have their board meetings in different cities. I think there should be some in authority who could answer questions and give the novice correct answers. You don't want to leave them to the mercy of unscrupulous breeders. We have many youngsters come in here and tell us they're completely confused. Sure they're confused! If they go to several shows they'll see different kinds of dogs being put up at different shows. They don't know what's right and what's wrong.
I think the people who really need guidance and who make up the bulk of the breeders are the ones that are excluded from the parent club, It's the people who are no longer breeding, or doing anything who are the ones that are IN the club, or the ones who have NEVER done anything in the breed. They're the ones who are running the club and that's why they don't have any control over the breed! I don't say that anyone who owns and Afghan should be a member of the parent club, but when someone has proved they are here to stay, and are serious about breeding, they should NOT be excluded from the parent club.
When the statement was made that there were people who could never hope to be a member of the parent club, I questioned it. I wrote to one of the magazines. Why shouldn't ANYBODY be able to HOPE to belong the parent club? I asked for an answer but I never got one.
I was one of the charter members of the Medina Club. We have now combined with the Midwest Afghan Hound Club. They were having membership problems and were about to fold so we made an effort to combine the two clubs.
I am not a member of the parent club and would not like to be - I see no reason to be a member. There was a time, when I was more of a novice than I am today; I felt that, if and when I bred an Afghan that was respected throughout the breed, I would be asked into the parent club. I wasn't because of racial reasons. Now I'm no longer interested. I feel I can do more for the breed on a local level.
THOUGHTS ON THE FUTURE
Have the years spent in dogs been worth it? Reigh responded - Yes. The hardest part of dogs is the quitting. When I think of all the friends I have all over the country and the people who have given us a helping hand and encouraged us and stuck by us all the years. I would say that it HAS been worth it. It's been worth it, for no other reason than just trading friendships. If you could just get out of dogs as easy as you get into it, it would ALL be worthwhile, but there's no stopping point - its a disease! I'd like to get out of dogs because I'm discouraged about the breeding for one thing. I'm discouraged about people for another thing. There is a generation gap. Today's generation is not willing to work and improve hat they have and learn they've just got to have it yesterday - at any cost.
We've got to have some breeders, who are really sincerely interested in the breed, breeders who are not bothered about money, or anything else and are truly trying to breed a CORRECT Afghan. We have so few of them that I don't know whether there are going to be enough people left who are serious enough about the Afghan to pull it out of the pits like they did with German Shepherds or Cockers or Collies
You look at a group of Afghans today and they could be of almost any breed with hair on them. Then, too, people have gotten so "hair happy" that they put the dogs in a crate and don't allow them to exercise or move or anything, so their legs are going in all directions. You really don't know whether a fault is from a lack of exercise and extreme coat care the dog is given, or if the dog was naturally born that way... Someone has to get to work, and FAST in order to improve them... and with the pedigrees we have today, I don't know how they can do it. I just don't know, I have no answers.
Finally comments from Reigh - The only thing I'd like to say in wrapping up is - I had the pleasure of having Carlotta Lachchiouch here for a few days with her dog, the one she brought from Afghanistan. I will not go into how she was brought to this country, but one has to ask how any of them arrived here out of Afghanistan. Anyway, I was very happy to have her visit me, to hear of her travels to Afghanistan and to see yet another Afghan directly from there. She was so very different from our Afghans of today that it only enhanced my belief that the mountain type and the desert type are truly two different breeds. I only wish that I were younger and had the money and time to go there and do some intensive research and come up with some answers.
Reigh Abram (Dureigh Afghan Hounds) Comments on Breeding
Dureigh Afghan Hounds Compiled by Steve Tillotson 1998/2012
Letter from Reigh Abram 1962 from "Crisis Magazine"
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