Shirkhan of Grandeur (Compiled by Steve Tillotson, 2012, 2015) Page 1
1. Shirkhan Of Grandeur Westminster (report) 1957 (By Mr. Arthur F. Jones/Beartrice Godsol)
Youtube Video of Shirkhan WKC 57 and interview with Sunny Shay
Shirkhan with trophies
The following is a summary compilation report on comments made by Mr. Arthur F. Jones who, for many years was Editor in Chief of Pure-Bred Dogs, American Kennel Gazette, author and editor of many books on dogs, also a well-known television and radio commentator on dogs, and Mrs Beartrice H Godsol who came from Woodland Hills, California, Beartrice was the Judge that awarded Shirkhan BIS at Westminster.
"A 2 -1/2 year old Afghan, Ch. Shirkhan Of Grandeur was the first hound to take Westminsters top aware. Co-owned by Sunny Shay and Dorothy Chenade, he brought special distinction to Mrs Shay who was also his breeder and handler.
The decision was well received, though he was a true "dark horse" It was his first Best In Show. He had accomplished less and was probably the least known of the finalists.
Arthur Frederick Jones in the Gazette said there was no question but that "the 65-pound bundle of longhaired animation" outshowed his competition. When gaiting, Shirkhan seemed to smile. But he did not win on showmanship alone. He was put together right from muzzle to tail, including coat color, said Jones. He was a striking color that Mrs Shay described as silver-blue" .
Shirkhan with Judge Mrs Beartrice Godsol Sunny Shay - Breeder/Handler and William A Rockefeller, President
Judge Beartrice Godsol said afterwards "He is a beautifully balanced hound. He has a good oriental Afghan expression, the correct type of lean Afghan Head. He was the soundest moving of the six, a very good showman. I think he is a great hound."
A bystander would later recall the the breed standard describes the eyes of the Afghan as "gazing into the distance as if in memory of ages past." The bystander said that in 2057, she had come face to face witgh Shirkhan just as he was about to enter the ring for Best In Show. "I saw that look she said."
Shirkhan the third generation of Mrs Shay's breeding, was automatically Best American-Bred-In-Show. He lived with her as a house pet and got along famously with her Siamese cat.
2. Vintage Newspaper Photo of Shirkhan Of Grandeur Westminster 1957
We found the above photo of Shirkhan in the newspaper archives. While it's a poor copy of a newsprint photo, it is one of the more interesting archive photos we have of Shirkhan, nice close up of his head where
we can see some detail. We will include some of the more well known photographs in this section. We are also including various newspaper/magazine articles/photos that we have encountered during our research.
None of this information is new, but in many of the cases the photo/article has long since been forgotten, and not re-published in breed books/magazines, so we get a chance to enjoy some long forgotten archives.
3. The Longhair Showman, Shirkhan of Grandeur, 1957 (Originally published in Time Magazine, February 1957)
It was abundantly clear to the 11,000 spectators at Madison Square Garden and to the thousands who watched the Westminster Kennel Club show on television last week that the aristocratic Afghan, Ch. Shirkhan of Grandeur, had a marked advantage over his five competitors for best of show. The others walked or trotted, ran or cantered like dogs. Shirkhan moved like a king.
But more than Shirkhan's liquid leg action persuaded Judge Beatrice Godsol to pass over the other contenders and award to Shirkhan of Grandeur the bluest blue ribbon in U.S. dogdom. The fine fawn-and-white boxer, Ch. Barrage of Quality Hill, seemed tired by the two-day competition and stood before Judge Godsol with forefoot splayed. No one could look at the imported English Pekingese, Ch. Chik I'Sun of Caversham, and not remember that last year's winner was the toy poodle Ch. Wilber White Swan; for a toy to win twice in a row was unlikely. The cocky Airedale, Westhay Fiona of Harham, stumbled and broke gait. The Dalmatian, Ch. Roadcoach Roadster, defied show-ring manners with the curving droop of its tail. But through all the long interlude, the long-haired, silver-blue Afghan stayed cool and aloof, a champion without pause..
Pharaohs Knew. "I think he is a beautifully balanced hound," said Mrs. Godsol as she gave the Westminster sterling dish to Shirkhan's owners, Sunny Shay and Dorothy Chenade. "He has a good Oriental Afghan expression and the correct lean Afghan head. He was the soundest moving of the six, and he is a very good showman.".
The ancient Pharaohs, who knew and admired the Afghan breed, used a different descriptive phrase—a papyrus from 4000 B.C. refers to the swift dogs that roamed the Sinai desert as "monkey-faced." No one knows how or when the seed of the breed was transported to Afghanistan, but all along the wild, high borderland of northern India the great hounds became a royal canine family. They were smart enough to herd sheep, swift enough to run down deer, sturdy enough to tangle with leopards. Their broad, high-set hips lent unusual agility to their natural speed. They have been called "gaze hounds" because they spotted their prey by sight, not scent. British officers back from Asian duty told tales of untrained Afghan hounds serving as sentries at frontier forts..
Breeders Tried. The British officers brought the Afghans home to England just after the turn of the century, but the sleek, silken-haired dandies did not catch the fancy of U.S. breeders until the 1930's. Once they left the deserts and the rough hill country of India, the Afghans took quickly to soft kennel life. Shirkhan, says Part-Owner and Handler Sunny Shay, is an incomparable house pet. "Afghans don't shed, they are quiet and phlegmatic, they don't fight with other dogs. Despite their size [average 27 in. at the shoulder and 60 lbs.], they don't wear you down by tugging and pulling at the leash.".
Just as they have not been able to dandify all the guts out of poodles (once great retrievers) or stultify the courage of bulldogs, wolfhounds and Kerry blues, the show breeders and household pamperers have not squeezed all the stamina out of the once self-sufficient Afghans. "The other finalists at the Garden," said Miss Shay, "were beautiful dogs, "but they were tired and they showed it. They let down just a bit. Shirkhan never did—even for an instant. That's why he won.".
4. Shirkhan WKC BIS 1957 Photos and Reports
5. Photo of the Judge Beatrice Godsol who awarded Shirkhan BIS WKC 1957 and also judged him at AHCC in 1956
Westminster Show Catalogue Pages (Afghan Hounds (1957)