Afghan Hound Times
(Afghan Hound Database and Breed Information Exchange)

Rifka Afghan Hounds UK
by Clair Race (Rifka) 1969
(Article added to/extended by Steve Tillotson 2014, 2017)

The original article written By Claire Race first appeared in the Jun-Aug 1969 Newsletter of The Northern California Afghan Hound Club. The newletter notes explain that Claire Race judged the Clubs 2nd Independent Specialty show in 1966. A club member(?)- (Dolores Leifhe) requested Clair provide a run-down on her Rifka Afghans. The breed is very fortunate that this article by Claire exists, because, sadly, Clair Race passed away just two weeks after this article was received by the Club. We have added additional material (photos, pedigrees, other archive info) to the original article..

1. The Story of RIFKA by Claire Race

The charming request from Dolores Leifheit for a run-around on my Rifka Afghans was a pleasure to receive, but something of a problem to work on. Dolores asked "How did you obtain your first Afghan?" To Answer I must go back in time

I was an only child, born of theatrical parents, and was Dog-crazy from an early age. My parents wisely I think, insisted that I should not have a dog of my own until I was old enough to take complete care of it myself. So until the age of twelve I walked all the neighborhood dogs, and my weekly magazine was not a children's comic, but "Our Dogs", read from cover to cover.

Then came my first puppy. From "Our Dogs" I had learned all about the large exotic breeds - Great Danes, St Bernards, Afghan Hounds - but it never occurred to me that I might own one. Just as well, really: my choice was a smooth-haired Fox Terrier ("Don") who fitted into the life of a schoolgirl much better than would a larger breed

Now the story jumps to the end of the war, when as a young married woman with a baby I decided that the time had come for a family dog. My husband Steve, a musician and TV personality, came from a dogless household and I was most keen that my choice of dog should win him over completely. We discussed the possibility of our owning an Afghan hound. Bear in mind that in those days Afghans were as rare as an introvert pop-star would be today, and Steve had never even seen an Afghan. However a couple of days later he came home from work and said" "You're right about Afghan hounds, there was one at the studios today, he was wonderful!"

That was all the encouragement I needed and with his birthday coming up I decided to give Steve and Afghan. I walked down to the local newsagent to pick up my copy of "Our Dogs", hoping there might be some Afghan puppies advertised. On the way there I met a teenage girl leaving the shop with an adult male Afghan! Of course I asked her where she got him. She replied that he was for sale and immediately I decided that he was the dog for us. Telephone numbers were exchanged, and having been told his impressive pedigree I bought the dog without even meeting the vendor. I took the dog to a professional beauty parlour and presented a breathtakingly beautiful Afghan to my surprised husband on his birthday. PHOTO Clare Race and her Rifka  Afghan hounds PHOTO Clare Race and her Rifka  Afghan hounds

Pasha, as we called him (doesn't everybody call their first Afghan Pasha or Sheba?) was a huge success. The fact that my letters asking for his pedigree and transfer-papers were never answered did not bother me unduly. We owned a beautiful Afghan: that was enough.

The following year I went as a spectator to the Afghan ring at Crufts. Having watched class after class, I said - just like a novice! -"Pasha is better than any of them, I'm going to show him". Having by now lost touch with the vendor I wrote to his breeder, Mrs. Molly Sharpe of Chaman fame, who at that time was Afghan correspondent for "Our Dogs". I told her the breeding of my hound and asked for pedigree and transfer-papers for him. Imagine our distress on learning that Pasha had been wrongfully obtained from Mrs. Sharpe, and as a consequence he had been registered at the Kennel Club as "not to be shown or bred from". She had been trying to trace him for nearly three years: he was by Int Ch Taj of Chaman out of Ch Taj Avia of Chaman.

By amicable agreement, but after much heart-searching, we returned Pasha to Mrs Sharpe, believing that he should be shown and bred from. We received from her a dog puppy by Meshki Baz-i-Pushtikuh, together with a bitch (Taj Amira Of Chaman) mated to our original Pasha. Mrs. Sharpe showed Pasha - who turned out to be Taj Amrit of Chaman - to his title in three straight shows in fifteen days. It was a record in the breed!

I became a breeder of Afghans because I wanted to own a son of our first-beloved. But at the same time I became bitten by the bug to show and breed further Afghans. Because champions are shown in the Open Class, it is not easy to take a dog to his title over here. With registrations well over a thousand per year, we only average five new champions annually, and my aim has been to breed only from show stock. It would be impossible for all my hounds to gain their titles, so one hopes they will win Kennel Club Stud-Book entry. This is awarded to the first three hounds in Limit and Open classes at Championship shows where CC's are on offer to the breed. It may seem strange to American showgoers, but with our enormous entries it means that a Stud-book win is the next best thing to making up a Champion: These are the dogs which are just pipped by the title-holders.

But back to my Ch Amrit/Amira litter. I showed a dog called Hassen Ben Rifka (reserve CC winner) and a bitch Calinda ben Rifka. At this time the Afghans I most admired in the ring were Mrs. Devitt's (Carloway, UK) Ch Yussef of Carloway and Ch Carloway Sharmain of Virendale. Mrs. Devitt mated these two lovely hounds and I booked a dog puppy from the litter as a future mate for Calinda. The dog puppy I chose was Rifka's Tarquin of Carloway, a spectacular black and tan and one of the great showmen of his day. He won his Junior Warrant, gained his title and retired from the ring after winning best of breed at Crufts in 1960 Mrs. Devitt registered one of the dog puppies from the Ch Tarquin/Calinda litter as Tygah of Carloway ane he appears in many American pedigrees today.

August 1955
Rifka's Tarquin Of Carloway (left)
Hassen Ben Rifka (right)

During 1960 Mrs Devitt and I formed a partnership with most of our hounds, and during a trip to America that year I visited Crown Crest and we bought Crown Crest Zardeeka from Mrs Kay Finch. Zardeeka arrived in whelp to Mr Universe, but owing to a tragedy, the litter was lost, and Kay helped us to obtain a Mr U Son, Wazir Of Desertaire (now a British Champion) to give us the Mr U bloodlines we wanted.

Wazir was mated to top-winning bitches of different bloodlines, and Zardeeka to Ch Pasha of Carloway, a Ch Yussef son. Owing to illness I was unable to continue in full partnership with Mrs Devitt, and from the imported stock brought into my kennels three bitches: Rajeena (Ch Wazir/Ch Mandodari), Taramina (Ch Wazir/Charmain of Carloway) and Moti (Ch Pasha of Carlowy/Crown Crest Zardeeka).

My first litter from Rajena was by Ch Tarquin and it produced the well-known "Beatle" litter: four black and tans who all won best puppy awards. None of this litter gained titles, but my own Rifka's Ivory Orronz won his Junior Warrant and both he and Mrs. Loynes Zahedan Rifka's Tallal Sharif are reserve CC winners, having won Best in Show at Open Show Level.

Ch Horningsea Khanabad Suvaraj PHOTO Ch Horningsea Khanabad  Suvaraj

I decided on another bloodline outcross before bringing the two imported American lines together, so Rajena's second litter was to Mrs. Marna Dods famous Ch Horningsea Khanabad Suvaraj, Dog of the year (all breeds) 1963. I chose Suvaraj, because as well as being an outstanding hound himself his breeding carries beautiful bitch lines and I wanted a dog from this mating to breed to my Zardeeka daughter, Moti.

Rifka's Taramina Of Carloway and
Ch Rifka's Moti Of Carloway

At the end of April 1965 my Ch Suvaraj/Rajena babies were born: 9 black-masked goldens. From the very start there were two puppies who we always called the Twins: They slept on their mothers neck and were inseparable. I decided to keep them both, a dog and a bitch, as they were so beautiful. They were duly registered Rifka's Tabaq D'rar and Rifka's Musqat D'rar, and have made Afghan history here in Britain, where they are known as the Heavenly Twins. Both gained their Junior Warrants in competition against each other between 6 and 18 months, and both won their titles on the same day before they were 2 years old. They have five 5 times gained both CC's together at the same show, and have been top dog and top bitch in the breed in 1967 and 1968, and Ch Musqat has just broken the CC record for the breed, winning her 18th CC before her fourth birthday. Dramatically enough, it was awarded to her by Mrs. Ida Morton (Netheroyd) who had previously held the record for 16 years with her own famous Ch Netheroyd Alibaba (17 CCs). I have made it a rule that neither Ch Tabaq or Ch Musqat should ever be shown a second time under a judge who has awarded either of them a CC, though that is perfectly permissable in Britain.

Meanwhile back at the (Rifka) ranch... I was so impressed with the Ch Suvaraj/Rajeena litter that I mated Rajeena's half sister Taramina (Ch Wazir/Charmain) to Suvraj. The result was a singleton, now 2- 1/2 years old, called The Millionairess - from Rifka (she was an expensive puppy!), a consistent Limit-class winner who has already won a reserve CC. PHOTO The MillionairessA From Rifka

Ch Rifka's Moti of Carloway was retired from the ring in 1967 asfter winning the Hound Group at Chester Championship Show and was mated to Ch Tabaq at the beginning of 1968. Strangely enough, Kay Finch was in England on here judging trip when the puppies were born..... It was the conclusion of my 8 year plan to bring the two American lines together. Mrs Finch chose two bitch puppies for herself from the babies, and the pick of the dog puppies joined the British Army as the mascot of Shah Sujah's Troop, founded in Afghanistan in 1838. This puppy is registered Rifka's Koh-I-Nor because that famous diamond was once the property of Shah Sujah. Seeking a puppy for myself I repeated the mating, and from the second litter chose a black and tan bitch, Rirka's Kazinga who made her debut this year at the Afghan Hound Association Championship at just 6 months, taking best Special Puppy (6-9 months) out of an entry of 38, and best puppy bred by exhibitor, 6-12 months. From her pedigree you can see the way that the 8 years breeding plan has worked out: it is of course also the pedigree for Koh-I-Nor and Mrs. Finch's Blak'n Tayan and Tiffy-Tu.

As you can see, I became an Afghan person almost by mistake! I happened to be at the newsagent at just the time the moment made me "buy" Ch Taj Amrit of Chaman: I had the good fortune to be helped by Mrs. Molly Sharpe and Mrs. Kay Finch.

I have had to be particularly careful of my breeding plans: my husband's busy radio and television life means that we live within 25 minutes of the West End of London, so that I cannot keep the large number of hounds one might if we lived in the country. I love to visit friends who have large kennels, and sometimes envy them, but it is a challenge to compete against them when I can keep only a few hounds myself. In any case, nothing gives me more pleasure than to see a truly superb Afghan, who-ever owns it, and that is why I enjoy showing and judging so much. I love my association with our wonderful breed, and particularly with the friends that I have made all over the world just by being an Afghan person. Clair Race 1969

Rifka's Taramina Of Carloway and
Ch Rifka's Moti Of Carloway
Ch Rifka's Tarquin of Carloway PHOTO Kay Finch and Claire Race

AHT note. We have added some additional photographs to the original article, please consider this a starter page for a larger article. We'll add to the story of Rifka shortly. Steve T, AHT Feb 201/Nov 1 2015

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