Salukitrip to Provence

Kennel de Hamadan

Three years ago I wrote to Nina Adam (kennel de Hamadan) in France to inquire about her Bahraini import Nuha. Nuha had been a gift from Shaikha Danah Al Khalifa and I was interested in a pup out of her. Nina promised me a puppy and so the long wait began. Nuha's intended mate was La'hin de Hamadan, son of the famous half Iraqi Esmahan de Hamadan and another successful racer of Turkish decent, Kerim el Riad.

The next three years were filled with hope and despair - once the mating did not take, once the male could not come in time and finally there was a single stillborn pup. We were beginning to worry that Nuha's precious bloodline would be lost to us as she was nearing her 8th birthday. In the meantime Nina and I became fast friends, corresponding almost weekly. Finally I received a particularly exciting letter : Nina had decided to use another male, one who also represented desert lines but already had offspring and so was well versed in the art of wooing bitches. This was the Bahraini import Dhah'ban, also he a gift from Shaikha Danah to Nina, but now living with a friend in Belgium. This proved an excellent decision and promptly resulted in a litter of 8 - 6 males and 2 females. We were of course delighted and I immediately began planning my trip to Nina and her family.

Monica and Nuha

My cousin Monica had already been there some weeks as she is Nina's "kennel girl" for the year and she had told me wonderful things of the village Lorgues and the beauty of Nina's home and hounds. She had not exaggerated. Nina and Phillipe Adam's home is picture perfect, a lovely stone building on several acres of gorgeous land and all of it accessible to their beloved Salukis. A lovely stone terass overlooked an exotic garden and clear blue pool and beyond those large meadows with olive and fig trees. In a remote corner of the property was a stone pool that caught crystal clear spring water which flowed through the property in sunken ceramic aqueducts of sorts so the Salukis had fresh water within reach at all times! Beyond the fields half a dozen horses grazed peacefully to the backdrop of green hills - a Saluki paradise!

Nina's Salukis are truly blessed living in such a place and though they compete successfully at both shows and races they are first and foremost well -loved pets that recline in soft chairs and enjoy their 5 o'clock tea. At the moment Nina has 7 adult Salukis, all bitches. Besides Nuha desert heritage is represented by La'hin's lovely sisters Lina and Leyla. English and German lines are behind old Daphne, her successful daughter Iris and her granddaughters Rania and Rowena. Nina and Phillipe are also keeping both of Nuha's daughters, the red Saman and the tiny cream Saba.

The pups had their own room in the house and a large enclosure outside where they spent most of the day. This was also where I frequently could be found, watching the pups for hours every day trying to decide which of the males to choose. It wasn't an easy decision as it was a very even litter both in conformation and temperament, all being lovely, affectionate creatures. Nina had suggested that I take the smallest of the males, the grizzle Sami and he did frequently catch my eye, but even so I at first fell in love with his cream brother Shaheen simply because he was such a cuddly, happy little boy.

At 7,5 weeks though he was still monorchid and as I was looking for a future stud for my bitches I decided not to take the risk that he might remain that way. So fate (and Nina!) knew best and I decided on Sami who was the calmest of the pups but also the one who played the most hunting games. He crept up on his siblings, then made a mad dash at the "prey" of his choice and flipped him or her over with a quick pull at the hock. Once I'd chosen my puppy I promptly nicknamed him Muhafhaf ("slender" in Arabic) and began spending some one on one quality time with him, much to the chagrin of Nuha the Wonder Mom who did not like him leaving his siblings and kept trying to drag him back to their enclosure. Nuha was a very attentive mother, always watching over her pups. Occasionally she tried to nurse her little piranhas in the enclosure but understandably came to the conclusion that they were better watched through the fence…

Nuha and Dhah'ban are cousins and both gifts to Nina from Shaikha Danah Al Khalifa who bred and registered them in Bahrain. Dhah'ban's sire Leo represents Shaikha Danah's own breeding while his dam Ramla is a tribal Saluki from Saudi Arabia, as is her halfbrother Kasab, sire of Nuha. Both of these hounds belonged to Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to Bahrain, but when he transferred to the UK in -92 he did not want to put them through 6 months quarantine and so gave them to Shaikha Danah. Nuha's dam Reisha was concieved on a hunting trip to the Empty Quarter by tribal hounds. Muhafhaf's lines then go back to Bahrain, Qatar, Rub Al Khali and the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia, Dammam.

In Gail Goodman's book "The Saluqi - Coursing Hound of the East" Shaikha Danah writes that tiny Reisha had a habit of bringing her little gifts in the mornings such as mice, birds and lizzards. When she had pups and not enough milk she would feed her pups with birds and dates. When Reisha was given to Shaikha Danah by her friend Ahed he said: "This is Reisha, the firstborn and therefore the best. Always give your best!"

When I left France only the white male Saeed was without a home but now he too has found an owner. Shaheen was going to a woman who had recently lost her Irish Wolfhound and I think such a cuddly boy must be a great solace. Shim el Howa was very exotically marked, snowy white with black lines in a grizzle pattern. He found his home with Robert Belgrave who also has an Iraqi bitch. His sister Mary took the substantial fawn Sayyad, my cousin's favourite and nicknamed "The Monster". The golden male Sirius is going to England to Andrew Oldfield who also has a male from Sir Terence Clark's breeding. So, very much an international litter in every sense!

The flight from Nice to Helsinki via Bruxelles went surprisingly well. Muhafhaf travelled in a water tight bag in my lap and saved his loud wails for the airports. Happily no one wanted to see his papers as I had conveniently forgotten them in my suitcase which in turn had missed the plane in Bruxelles...

Muhafhaf 9 weeks old

Muhafhaf has fit in beautifully with my other dogs though admittedly they weren't thrilled to see their numbers increased at first. It took about a week but then my desert Saluki Farha began playing with him and now they are all friends. He is now exploring the Finnish winter. I'm so happy I ended up with this particular boy, a sweetheart in every way and handsome at that. At 6 months he still thinks he's ever so small and carefully folds himself up in my lap. I'm so proud of my little boy!

Micaela Lehtonen
Qashani Saluqis