DESERT SALUKIS IN FINLAND
breeders are usually enterprising and unprejudiced. Finns have made
ground-breaking decisions in many breeds. The revolutionary idea of
crossing a Pinscher and Schnauzer has been made reality here. Tibetan
Mastiffs have been imported from the Himalayas and been shown and
bred from. Nordic breeds are routinely registered from the natural
populace. Therefore it is no wonder that genuine desert bred Salukis
have been imported here from Israel. The bitch Farha al-Faifa lives
in Hauho with Micaela Lehtonen, and the male Zafran Asli with Seija
Kotti-Rantala in Kyröskoski. The pups arrived last winter with
the help of Zafra Sirik.
idea has been in the works for many years, Micaela Lehtonen explains.
-As a child I read about the Salukis of the Arabs and decided that
one day I would have such a dog. Micaela has two "ordinary"
Salukis and two Dachshunds, and her sister's Parson Jack Russell bounces
along in daycare. As a Saluki fancier Micaela naturally gathered together
all available breed literature. In the book of American breed authority
Gail Goodman there are stories about people who have lived in the
Near and Middle East and brought back authentic Bedouin Salukis. Goodman
has also been to Israel herself.
how I realized that it really is possible to import dogs from there.
I contacted Gail Goodman and through her made many valuable contacts.
The chain led to Zafra Sirik, and she got things moving, Micaela says.
-The idea was to bring in new blood, the Saluki is an old breed that
has been bred pure for a long time. Though it generally speaking is
a healthy breed, there are some problems.
people network globally through the internet and Micaela has made
important contacts that way. The attitudes of breed fanciers and kennel
organizations toward desert bred Salukis vary, in the USA for example
there is some antagonism toward desert dogs of unknown origins, and
they cannot be registered. In Finland registration was easy, as the
new arrivals had two generations registered in Israel. -Registration
was painless, the dogs went straight into our special registry, Micaela
says. -The climate here is open-minded. Both the Kennel Club and the
breed club were helpful.
is very pleased with Farha, her beauty even exceeded expectations.
Micaela had been prepared to settle for less as long as she could
find the needed new blood. Naturally she had thought that hounds bred
in harsh conditions would have to develop health and tenacity and
that to be able to run consistently in desert conditions they would
have to be soundly built. At the same time she had prepared for initial
problems arising from the awesome change in enviroment from the heat
of the desert to the Finnish winter, and that the flight and the completely
different lifestyle would be a shock to the pups and they might be
timid or at least take a long time to be acclimatized. To the contrary,
the immigrants proved to be levelheaded, calm, adaptable and friendly.
As soon as they were let out of their boxes at the airport they ate
the food they were offered without any fuss. Not even the new diet
affected them in the least.
Saluki fanciers have had mixed feelings about Micaela's and Seija's
project. Some have been genuinely excited, while others have felt
that the desert dogs' strong hunting instincts might make them difficult
and that they could not be trusted with other dogs, certainly not
smaller ones. This fear has proved unfounded. The Saluki threesome
frolic amicably with the Dachshunds and Parson Jack Russell in Micaela's
large fenced yard.
feels that the Saluki's hunting instinct is an intrinsic part of the
breed's make-up. -Some people here think that the hunting instinct
makes the breed difficult, but so much of what makes the Saluki so
appealling is connected with that instinct. It should not be bred
away from, she emphasizes. Farha has already shown a keen interest
in the moles her Dachsie friends dig up. Mostly when a Saluki catches
something it's likely to run off with it, but Farha brought her catch
straight to Micaela. Such is her misstress' fine hunting hound! Farha
has not yet encountered larger prey, but Micaela has heard that gazelle
hounds have chased elk in lieu of gazelle.
have also considered it a huge risk to import dogs from completely
unknown lines. Micaela is secure in her decision, so far things have
worked out well. You can't achieve anything if you don't dare dream.
These imports are from different breeders and combinations, and the
plan is to make further imports from different areas and different
lines. Micaela plans to breed Farha and hopes the offspring will make
a valuable addition to the existing gene pool. It is also her dream
to one day be able to visit Middle Eastern breeders herself.