13 February 2008
It was 9 years ago today that my dear Oscar came to live with me. Not only bringing me 9 years of joy but also inspiring me to help out other rescue Sloughis. I never would have dreamt of where we have ended up today when I first clapped eyes on his skinny little body, and soulful eyes. Thinking about him today and the journey we have been on made me want to write an update about how things have moved on in the last 3 years, since the last lot of Kamet Sloughis were taken into rescue centres around the South West of England.
I have recently read old correspondence between myself and others in the Sloughi community, both here in the UK and abroad, from late 2005. Most of it extremely heated, and the majority of what I said back then I still stand by. The one thing that has struck me looking back is how my attitude has changed towards what happened to the breeding of the Kamet dogs.
In 2005 I had no idea on how the Sloughi stood as a breed in the UK or in the rest of the world. I actually had little interest in it either back then. On more than one occasion I was told that it was a shame that all of the Kamet dogs were neutered as they originated from some wonderful clean lines. On each occasion I was completely indignant that anyone could even suggest such a thing after what these dogs had suffered. As far as I was concerned it was an end to their horror and suffering and that’s all that mattered.
Over the last 3 years I have learned so much about the Sloughi, and had a wonderful teacher in Dr Dominique de Caprona (Shi’Rayan Sloughis) who has been extremely patient in answering all of my questions regarding the breed. What a difference this has made to my attitude regarding the Kamet dogs now.
There is much discussion going on at the present time regarding the state of Sloughis in Europe. Inbreeding on lines which contain both smooth Saluki and smooth Afghan which were mistakenly used many years ago in Sloughi breeding. However, since the error has been detected, little has been changed in the breeding of the dogs from these lines. Meaning that the already small ‘pure’ gene pool of Sloughis in the world is now even smaller. For further reading on this subject visit Sloughi World.
Now I understand more about this situation, I can see that our own Kamet dogs actually came from some fantastic lines which were imported to the UK in the mid 70’s. What a waste, after 30 years of reckless breeding, to have it end the way it did. I must admit on a more sentimental level, I am now so attached to many of the rescue Sloughis who I have been lucky enough to get to know personally, that it saddens me that there will be no more of these particular dogs either. How ironic given my strong views and involvement on the subject only 3 years ago.
There are very few dogs left in the UK now that still have Kamet blood that are not neutered. However I wonder how ‘safe’ any of the pedigrees with Kamet blood in them are and whether there would be any point in breeding seriously from those lines. With the obvious mess made with the Kamet kennel my own personal feeling would be that it would be pointless to breed anything for future generations from these lines as it seems one could never be 100% sure that the pedigrees of these dogs are solid. A shame for the few people that I imagine took these dogs on originally in good faith and a great tragedy for the breed in the UK. It also leaves the one remaining active Sloughi kennel little room to expand on their blood lines with nothing else they could realistically use in the UK at this time.
So how are the rescue dogs doing?
The answer is, without exception, fantastically well! The younger dogs that were so painfully shy and skittish have come on tremendously now they feel secure and comfortable in their new homes. In the house they now behave like ‘normal’ dogs. They are playful, mischievous and fiercely loyal to their new owners – just as young Sloughis should be!
Some of them will still spook at various inanimate objects when out and about, one or two still have a few socialising issues to get over but all of them are off lead now, and the ones that live locally to each other enjoy meeting up for games of chase and a good social catch up (owners included who enjoy the catch up rather than a game of chase just in case there was any confusion with that!).
I have personally addressed the owners of some of the dogs who carry far too much weight. Sadly in some cases this is ignored and some of the dogs are now obese. Although they are so much better off than they were in their former life, I cannot help but feel distress for any sighthound that is grossly overweight. They are not designed to carry weight, it does nothing but damage their joints and create health problems (as obesity in any breed of dog). I wish to make it very clear to anyone thinking of adopting one of these dogs that if you do not like the physique of the Sloughi or any other sighthound for that matter, then adding weight till they look a completely different shape is not the answer! Maybe sighthounds are not for you and you should rethink your breed choice. I also want to make it quite clear that Sloughi Rescue does not condone obesity in these hounds.
With regard to the rescue dogs that we have got to know, I think we are all agreed that Twin has come on the most, given that he was the most nervous of the young dogs and one of the last to be rehomed. He now enjoys holidaying in Scotland with his family, including Maddie a retired Greyhound. They have long walks on the beaches up there and he is even happy to walk around the local towns they visit. His owners are so proud of him, and rightly so although without their dedication and care I wonder how he would have coped.
Special mention should also be made for Belle, who has also overcome so many fears and lives a fantastic life down on the coast of Cornwall. This dog would freeze and fall to the ground in fear if you so much as looked at her when she first arrived in kennels. Her owners in fact had to carry her outside for a couple of years after they adopted her even, as she felt so fretful.
However once out and about Belle blossomed, she enjoys her freedom racing around the Cornish Coastlines and has become quite the huntress. Amazing that this little Bonsai Beauty flourished the way she has and a real credit to the patience and devotion of her owners.
27 February 2008
Two weeks have passed since I started this update. I was stopped in my tracks when on 14 February we were informed that Hugo had passed away the previous evening, the day I had originally started to write this. All of a sudden I didn’t feel that I had anything positive to say, none of it mattered, because we had lost our beloved Hugo. He’d had such a wonderful home with Paul and Gina, his Sloughi brother Henry, Molly the Greyhound and Bobby the Labrador cross. We were all lucky enough to meet Hugo last year at the reunion. I was personally seduced by his beautiful grey face and huge brown eyes. It was obvious he was very much adored by his new family.
As mentioned at the top of this piece all my feelings of anger and resentment towards those responsible for this atrocity bubbled to the surface again. Hugo should have spent his whole life being loved, pampered and cared for. As it was, that part of his life was shorter than his previous existence of being locked in a crate 24/7 with Henry, starved and being used as an ashtray. And although this wouldn’t have occurred to Hugo, thankfully at the end he only knew love and kindness, there is a huge injustice that this was the case.
It also made me think about all of those dogs that were never even lucky enough to make it out at all from that hellhole. 30 years worth of dogs, which no-one thought or cared about. I have only found out very recently that the RSPCA were called to Jacky Saunders place as early as the 1970’s. It took them 30 years to finally take her dogs from that situation. If they had acted in the 1970’s then none of these dogs would have had to suffer. It also disproves the theory from some that as she was an elderly woman things had simply got too much for her. 30 years ago she was not an elderly woman; she was simply a woman who did not care one bit about the welfare of her own dogs.
Then of course last week a Sloughi pup suddenly turns up out of the blue in rescue in Nottingham. We don’t know where he came from, we don’t know who bred him, we don’t know where his siblings are and we don’t know who his parents are either (although he has a striking similarity to the last litter bred by Jacky Saunders). I have had both members of the Sloughi Club and some of the rescue Sloughi owners telling me that they assume I’m shocked as I probably thought this was all over. Actually no, I think everyone else wanted to believe it was over – I never thought it for one moment. I’ve been through the Kamet litters bred in the last 10 years and the number of dogs bred compared to the number that turned up in rescue simply does not add up. There have to be more dogs out there somewhere; they cannot have simply just disappeared.
I do believe that we won’t see the scale of reckless Sloughi breeding again, as seen in the Kamet dogs, but there have to be dogs turning up here and there still in rescue. The only difference this time round is that the Sloughi Club is much more aware of the facts, and are working alongside the us to ensure that we do anything we can for any future rescue Sloughis that appear.
I thought that I had moved on from how I was feeling 3 years ago regarding these rescue Sloughis. In a few respects I suppose I have. But events over the last couple of weeks have made me realise that there is a big part of me that will never come to terms to what happened to all of those dogs. I just hope that my anger and frustrations can continue to be channelled into ensuring this never happens to our beloved breed again.
Caroline Mathews – March 2008