The Independent Voice of the Afghan Hound Breed
43rd Year Of Publication
O'Valley Farm Kennels (USA)
(Researched by Lyall Payne Bletchley Hall Afghan Hounds New Zealand
Article compiled from Lyall's info by Steve Tillotson 2012

The O’Valley Farm affix belonged to Joseph Brown Thomas Jnr, as canine writers continue to call him to this day (he handed the title of Jnr to his son who bore the same name) was born in Boston, Massachusetts and attended Yale University. He was an accomplished breeder of fine dogs and hens (according to the NY Times in 1905) and also a successful athlete while at Yale. At 6’ 1” of tall and slender build he was an imposing figure. He usually described his occupation as ‘broker’, though at other times he described himself as a ‘mining engineer’ and a ‘freelance artist’ ! In the ‘dog world’ he was hugely famous for his Russian Wolfhounds (Borzois) - travelling to Russia twice (leaving the US on 1 July 1903 and again in 1904) and returning with outstanding quality dogs. He dominated the show rings.

The farms were jointly owned by Chauncey Hamlin (a contemporary of Thomas’ at Yale), Howard Mossman (involved in the steel industry) and A Douglass Dodge (lawyer). During WW1 Dodge travelled to Europe working with the Red Cross in France, Italy and England. His passport application of 1916 states that he will return to the US ‘after the war” ! He did return, started a family late in life and lived on farms in the Simsbury, Farmington and Hartford area. The O’Valley Farm kennels were located one mile from Simsbury, Connecticut and at one time jointly run with his brother Ralph.

Thomas and his wife Clara also maintained an apartment at 13 E 19th St, New York, inherited from his father who was involved in the sugar industry.

Coincidentally it is 87 years ago to the day we compiled this article that the afghan hound bitch Zun was born in the UK. Zun gained her place in Afghan Hound history by giving birth to the first litter of afghan hounds ever bred in the United States.

Pedigree of the first Afghan Hound bred in the USA
Parents Grandparents Great-Grandparents Great-Great-Grandparents
Shiek Bm Balu Bm Parent Not Recorded  
Parent Not Recorded  
Bulbul Bm Parent Not Recorded  
Parent Not Recorded  
Zun O'valley Farm Baluch Taiza Bm Parent Not Recorded
Parent Not Recorded
Nurm Bm Parent Not Recorded
Parent Not Recorded
Peela Bm Ooty Zorawar Bm
Dil Bm
Straker Bm Rajah Bm
Begum Bm

Zun was bred by Miss Jean Manson (Cove Afghan Hounds) of Kirkpatrick-Fleming, Dumfriesshire, Scotland. The precise date when Zun travelled to the USA is not known nor any information about the travel arrangements of her future mate Sheik (also bred by Miss Manson). Zun was exhibited at Philidelphia in 1926 with the owner listed as Louis Murr, Our thoughts are that Zun (Born in UK, August 1925) was likely exported to the USA early in 1926. Zun's named changed to Zun O’Valley Farm.

Louis J Murr is also often associated with Zun O’Valley Farm. Louis was a highly respected AKC judge. Italian born he was a renowned storyteller. He also had a large kennel of Borzois. His ‘of Romanoff’ Borzois were founded using O’Valley farm stock. It is possible that Murr was kennel manager at some point. He was to maintain his own significant and successful kennels for decades at 178 S Pascock Rd, Spring Valley, New York. He died 6 Feb 1978.

The kennel names O’Valley and ‘of Romanoff’ have been granted permanent protection by the AKC following submissions form Borzoi enthusiasts, and the Borzoi Club of America dedicated its 100th Ch Show as a memorial show to Joseph B Thomas Jnr.

Zun O’Valley farm was exhibited in 1927 and 1928 at Westminster (owner listed as Valley farm Kennels on both occasions). Her litter, from which there are no descendants today) was born on 16 Oct 1927 and were just four months old when Zun was exhibited at Westminster in 1928.

While the breeding of Afghan Hounds at O’Valley Farm kennels does not contribute to the breeds pedigree history, ancestors of Zun are behind other Afghan Hounds and through their offspring the pedigree lives. Undoubtedly, O’Valley Farm's campaigning of their Afghan Hounds helped create visibility and interest in the then, new and mysterious breed from the east.

Steve Tillotson/Lyall Payne
August 2012 for Our Afghans

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