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A Sloughi’s perspective of the World Dog Show 1997 in Puerto Rico

The large ring of honour for the braces and Sloughiman up front 
& the winning brace Aswad and A'ssissa Shi'Rayân, Mondiale Puerto Rico 1997 © Dr. Herm David

Monday, June 9, 1997,  8 pm.
      Dominique and Bernd have been preparing the entire day and now they are calling me in.  This means, we are going to a show.  I do not like to get a bath but I do like to go to shows.  Mostly we will be all hanging out together in the truck on our nicely padded areas and we get a lot of cuttling form Bernd and Dominique.  Sometimes you can take a sniff at a real cute doggie in season.  Well, we will see where it will be this time.

 Tuesday, June 10, 1997,  4 am.
      They kick us all out and we drive to the airport in Omaha.  This means we are flying some place.  In the airport, Dominique is leaving.  My son, Batal Shi’Rayan is with me and my second owner, Bernd.  So it will be me and my son only?  Strange combination.  Our plane is leaving at 6 am.  In Atlanta I change planes and at 1 pm we land in a really warm place and I see Bernd again.  He is happy and so am I.  We have had a good sleep in the plane, but now it is time to get out.  Wait, I know this place.  I was here last year.  It was nice.  But before I can walk we have to get a car and we have to find our hotel.  At 2 pm everything is done and we are on the bed in a nice air-conditioned room.  That is really the only problem with Puerto Rico.  When you come from the still fairly cool area of Omaha to end up all by a sudden at 95 or higher you have to take even more naps.  I hope they will not let us run in the heat.  We take a nice walk on the beach at 3 pm, have our dinner at 5 pm and go to bed right after that.  But at 10 Bernd wakes us up again.  He puts us in the car and we are driving back to the airport.  Are we flying back home?  He is leaving the car and comes back ten minutes later.  After half an hour he is doing the same thing.  After another hour the same thing.  But now he comes back with luggage.  And it smells like Sloughis.  He takes us out and we see Dominique and my sister, A’ssissa.  I jump up on Dominique and great her with a big kiss.  She is all happy that we are together.  We all get in the car and finally can go to bed in the hotel room at 1 am.  I hope we can sleep long the next day.

 Wednesday, June 11, 1997, 9 am.
      We slowly get up and into gears.  At 10 am we are all in the car again with two nice people.  I have seen the younger woman before at a dog show.  Well, we are going to the rain forest.  This is great.  First, our car has to climb up a bit and then we take a stroll through this nice smelling area.  Leaves and small animals are moving and we are all very exited.  After about two hours we are driving back for our afternoon nap.  Another two hours of good sleep and we are ready for dinner.  And a walk.  It is hot and muggy outside the hotel room.  Not nice at all.  Well, we have an early and good sleep.

 Thursday, June 12, 1997, 4 am.
      What is going on?  They dress up so early and we are leaving in the car.  At 6:30 am they have put our crates in an air-conditioned room in a nice dark place and we can go to sleep again until 10 am.  Bernd walks me and my son, Dominique walks A‘ssissa through a crowd.  This seems different from the usual shows.  More serious with many more dogs and people.  Well, we see what will happen.  The judge, is nice.  I have not seen him before but A’ssissa knows him.  He goes very carefully over me and I have to run with Bernd.  Kind of fun, but this guy is a little slow for me.  Finally, they are done with all that stuff and Bernd and Dominique take their rosettes and seem to be pleased with the results.  We are going back to sleep until Dominique walks us in the back of the parking lot at a nice grass area.  Lots of smell of unknown animals.  At 2:30 Bernd takes me and my sister and the coupled leash.  This means we are going in for a couple competition.  We have done that before and Dominique has trained us to walk very nice.  It is kind of fun to do everything together.  We are, as usual the first in the show ring.  Lots of people applaud.  After we have done our works, the judge, a nice lady, selects the top couples.  We are among them and can run again in this nice large ring.  Finally, the judge selects a nice pair of well handled bearded collies.  Not a bad choice and I realize that Bernd is happy with our performance.  At 4 pm I can finally have my afternoon nap.  However, at 7 pm we are still at the show site and Bernd moves me back into the large show ring.  There is a Saluki, a Whippet, a Italian Greyhound, a Borzoi, a Galgo Espanol and me.  Bernd asks about the Afghan hounds, which should be here as well.  However, the lady who judges us forthe group has apparently not given an excellent to any of the Afghan hounds. Consequently they are not allowed to compete for the sighthound group.  We will see what she is doing to us.  She makes us go through the usual routine and in the end they place me third in the group, behind the Saluki and the Whippet.  I hear Dominique and Bernd talk and they are very happy with that.  Strange, I normally place much higher in the group but they do not seem to mind at all.  They are talking about AKC breeds competing with us, and I have to say that I typically do not see those other sighthound breeds competing with me in the show ring.  I know them from lure coursing, but those guys look slightly different for the breed.  Well, if Bernd and Dominique are happy I am happy, too.  At 9:30 pm we finally have had our meal and our late walk and rest comfortably on the bed.  I am snuggling against Bernd and have a good sleep with lots of dreams where I am hunting rabbits.

 Friday, June 13, 7am.
      The same procedure.  We are at the show site at 8:30.  Our crates are still there and we can go asleep in this relatively calm and cool site.  At 10:30 we are going to the usual routine again and judge, a guy form Mexico, selects me again as Best of Breed.  At 2:30 my sister and me are in the ring again.  Many fewer couples are this time with us.  And there is a couple of Rottweiler which are all over the place.  Bernd moves us far away from them.  These guys are driving everyone bananas.  The handler has each on its own leash and is throwing a ball to a guy in the crowd.  And there is this other guy in the crowd that also throws a ball up in the air all the time.  Finally we can move.  But these guys are only two couples behind me and are jumping and janking all over the place.  I do not like that at all and A’ssissa takes on her disgusted look.  The judge, an older gentleman, does not look very much at us, but we nevertheless perform flawless.  Even when we stand all lined up these Rotties are not standing at all but are jumping around and try to get to the ball with which the guy outside the ring plays.  The prize this time goes to these guys which disturb everyone.  I hear Dominique and she appears to be disgusted about the acting of these Rotties.  The talk about double handling.  But they seem to be insecure as to whether or not this is allowed here.  At 5 pm I have to go again in the ring.  This time it is with an Afghan, a Saluki, a Whippet, an Italian Greyhound, a Borzoi and the Galgo Espanol.  The judge, a lady form the USA, makes us do a round where should come back towards here.  I see her waving at us to go even further towards her, but Bernd seems to miss the signs and walks me back intot he line of Sighthounds.  I am placed again as group three after the Saluki and the Afghan.  And again Bernd is very happy goes to the judge and thanks her for her judging.  She seems to pleased with her judging and tells him that she is a Saluki breeder who has been studying the Sloughis for a while.  Bernd and Dominique are very happy about this, but Dominqie has observed the mistake Bernd has made.  They discuss whether this may have had any influence on our placement but conclude that this is unlikely.  We are finally in bed at 8 pm.  Not to bad for this day.

Saturday, June 14, 1997; 7:30 am.
      The same routine again.  It is getting somewhat boring.  We will have at least a good nap in the crates between the shows, judging from the previous days.  Well, at 10 am we are in the ring again.  This time, however, the judge, a lady from Portugal, picks A’ssissa.  Bernd is happy and Dominique is really happy about this.  She calls A’ssissa her beauty queen and hug’s her.  That means, I do not need to run in the group which is fine with me.  I want to take mey nap but lots and lots of people are coming in.  They all walk over the metal stairs under which we are parked.  No way to get a good nap with this noise.  At 2:30 pm we are again in the ring.  There is a lot of applauding around us and many more people are here than in the days before.  When we do our first round the noise becomes almost a distraction but we have to perform and go on with our business.  Bernd seems to be all excited that our judge, a lady from Panama, looks very careful at us.  Out of the many braces she selects us first and four others behind us.  So, we have at least made the cut again.  We are starting to do a last round when she points at us.  Bernd makes us stop and asks what she wants.  She tells him that we won the best brace in show.  He is getting all excited and jumps up and down and hugs us.  He runs with us to this lady and receives a kind of prize with which he takes us for a round of honor through the ring.  Finally he runs at his best speed and we can do some gallop next to him.  The crowd becomes really loud and we are finally allowed to leave.  But only to run into a smiling Dominique who hugs and kisses us.  Everyone Bernd and Dominique talked to the last three days seems to be exited.  After a photograph is taken of us with the judge I can finally have my afternoon nap.  At 5:30 Dominique goes down for the group judging with A’ssissa.  She is nervous and talks about this being really important for her.  Obviously she has great respect for the judge, a guy from California.  A’ssissa goes in with the same Sighthounds as I was in the day before: Afghan, Saluki, Borzoi, Whippet, Italian Greyhound, and Galgo Espanol.  Dominique shows A’ssissa very nice and the judge places her third, behind the Afghan and the Saluki.  Dominique is very happy about this and at 7pm we can relax in the room, have our food and go to sleep early.  Bernd and Dominique leave us to go to some kind of a party.  They are back at 10 pm but continue to talk for a while.  Finally we are all asleep.

 Sunday, June 15, 7:30am.
      We are getting up and are going to the same show again.  I am tired of this by now and when we are up and running for the breed competition I am dragging my feet.  Bernd tries to move me faster but I do not want to go any faster.  So he has to pull me behind him when I compete with my son, Batal, for best dog.  In addition, they have another gu helping to show Batal.  I turn my head to look what he is doing to my son and do not really concentrate on what I am doing.  The judge, the same guy who has put A’ssissa up as third palce in the group yesterday, seems to like more refinement.  At any rate, he selects my son, Batal, over me.  For the breed and thus the world championship he selects A’ssissa.  Thus my little sister, who was the first American born Champion of the breed, becomes also the first American born World Champion of the breed.  And I am the sire of the first American born Best of Opposite Sex at the World Dog Show.  My breeders can be happy that the only thing Batal got from his mother is the red coloration and not her conformation.  Not to bad for a Sloughi born in the American Midwest.  I am proud of my sister and my son.  But I want to have my rest by now.  Alas, this is impossible.  Like on Saturday, many people are coming and walking over these metal stairs who resonate with their footfalls.  Who can have a nice nap with a background noise like this. 
       At 3 pm I am going down into the ring of honor again with A’ssissa.  What a fight to get throught the crowd.  Those guys do not budge and try to pet us all the time.  Finally we are in the small prejudging ring.  But instead of getting into the large ring of honor right away as before we are hanging around for over 30 minutes in this small prejudging ring, crowded together with a large number of other couples.  One couple are two big Fila Brasiliero.  These guys seem to be dangerous and Bernd keeps us at a good distance.  Shortly before we have to go into the show, a lady comes to us to have Bernd sign some papers.  He gets distracted and misses that the judge, the lady from Portugal we had for the breed on Saturday, does prejudging.  This is unusual for the couples and he finally gets us up and brings us in show position.  Right after that we finally go into the ring of honor and we are doing our best.  The crowd is applauding and, judging from the noise, they are even more now.  But we also have these cameras pointing at us, like guns.  I do not like that and shy a little away when we have to pass by at them.  As usual we are the fastest and are leading the entire couples.  When we stop for the lineup, the judge asks Bernd to move us up and down to check the gait on a straight run.  When I hear Bernd’s command to turn I see at the same time this camera swinging toward me, like the eye of a big predator.  I turn away from it, which is in the wrong direction, and I almost hit the head of my sister when we both turn inward.  Bernd hessitates only a split second and we are running back toward the judge.  Bernd has to work hard to get us untangled after we are back in the line up.  He is clearly unhappy with what I did and I feel sorry for him.  Despite this flaw, we still make the cut.  I give my best on the last round but the judge gives the best couple price to the Filas.  I can go back to sleep now as it will be A’ssissa which is up for the group competition.
       At 7pm Dominique and A’ssissa are getting ready and Dominique is nervous.  So is Bernd.  A lady, who for the first time has won the breed with her Borzoi, has hired a top professional US handler to beat Dominique.  I hear Bernd and Dominique going through the sighthounds and handlers and it appears clear to them that group places 1, 2, and 3 will be going to the Afghan, Saluki and Whippet, not necessarily in this order.  This leaves only group place 4 to compete for among the Borzoi, the Italian Greyhound, the Galgo Espanol and A’ssissa.  Two rare breeds and two AKC breeds competing.  The judge is the Puerto Rican who helped organize the show.  He is also a sighthound breeder.  Dominique and A’ssissa show perfect.  And they win this slot, forth place in the group.  Dominique is very happy.  Her beloved bitch has not only won the first World Champion for an American bred Sloughi but she has also placed in the group.  She got the cake and the frosting she was hoping for.  And for once it is not me and Bernd.  I am relieved, as everybody sees that not only one Shi’Rayan Sloughi is excellent and that I win because I have no competition.  As should be clear to everyone now, I do have stiff competition by my sister and my kids and the other Sloughis bred and owned at the Shi’Rayan kennel. 
Finally, we watch the competition for the championship.  The English Cokker is the Energizer, he is going and going and going.  And he wins the world championship.  At 9:30 we are at home.  Dominique is still very exited about her wins of today and A’ssissa is snuggling up on her on the bed and gracefully excepts all of Dominiques kisses.

Monday, June 16.  8 am.
      We are getting up and have a long walk outside with Bernd.  When we come home we find that Dominique has packed all her belongings.  At 10:30 we are driving to the airport.  I give a good-by lick to my sister and Bernd, Batal and myself are driving home for the early afternoon nap.  Later the afternoon we are walking along the beach.  The sand is great but those waves are terrible.  You have to watch them closely, otherwise you end up having wet feet.  Terrible!!  Later we have a nice meal and go to bed early.  That is a finally a day I really like.  At 10 pm the phone rings.  Apparently Dominique has made it home safely with A’ssissa.  Bernd and Dominique are talking on the phone for a while and we are falling asleep again.

 Tuesday, June 17.  6am.
      Dominique calls and appears to be all happy about the news she got.  I hear them talking about a Sloughi specialty.  Whatever that is, I probably will have again a chance to perform with A’ssissa.  And I promise myself that I will not let Bernd down by turning in the wrong way.  I only hope that there will be no big cameras pointing at me this time.  At 8 am Bernd starts packing.  He is really proud of the trophy he got for the Best Brace in Show on Saturday.  I hope the flight will cause no problems.  We should be home and run in our large enclosure later today.  I am looking forward to assume my responsibilities as second top dog in the pack after this one week of holiday from the gang.

                                                                                                                                          Aswad Shi’Rayân
                                                                                                                                         Crescent Iowa, 1997

PS:  I wish to thank my ghostwriter, Bernd Fritzsch, for translating my Sloughi-talk into English.

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