The Independent Voice of the Afghan Hound Breed
43rd Year Of Publication
Expedition to Afghanistan
(By Carlotta Wolseley-Lahchiouach
Published in "Our Afghans" May/June 2011)

Kalilla Of Ghazni
(Photo Copyright Carlotta Wolseley-Lahchiouach)
Afghan Hound Times Kallila Of Ghazni US

For one year my husband and I had planned on taking an extension overland trip to India. Little did we realize when we set of in October 1974 we would become so involved in a search for an Afghan Hound.

For many years I had been curious as to whether there really were Afghans still being bred in Afghanistan. My curiosity was satiated upon making the acquaintance of the manager of the American Express in Tehran. If our traveler's cheques had never been stolen, we never would have out desert type Afghan "Khallila". While filling out the various forms one must when filing a claim on stolen cheques, I asked the manager various questions pertaining to his native country, Afghanistan. One of the questions was "Where should one go to find an Afghan Hound? He looked a little puzzled and then exclaimed "Oh you want to find a Tazi." After some explaining he concluded it was against the law to export these precious dogs. Only persons connected with the government could do so, and even then it was rare. The information excited my sense of adventure. I had to own and export a Tazi.

Four days later we arrived at the Iranian Afghan border. I started the long and involved process of filling out various important papers on our car and personal possessions. While waiting for them to be processed I had a look around the dilapidated customs shed. On one wall were some photos of captured contraband while the other wall displayed a sheet of paper listing all the things one wasn't permitted to export. The list contained almost everything a tourist might be tempted to buy, from antique coins, lapis lazuli, Karakul sheep (and products of) and much more including Tazi dogs. Now that I saw in print what had been told to me, my determination to own a Tazi was reinforced.

Upon arrival in Herat we questioned many people on the subject of Tazis' and where we might find a good breeder. We learned that there were few in the Herat region but if we were to go to Ghazni we would surely find some dogs. We soon discovered that even in Afghanistan one rarely comes across them, we also learned why these dogs are respected by all people in the middle East not only because of their hunting ability, but also because they believe that Tazis' were a gift from God a thousand years ago.

That same night three Germans driving a Mercedes bus pulled into the hotel's camping courtyard. After they settled in, I noticed they had two Tazi' tied up in the bus. When I saw his, I couldn't resist speaking to one of the boys, even though it was close do midnight. One of his dogs was a black mountain type, and so my knowledge grew seeing two types of Tazi's side by side. He told me he had been into the mountains to find the dogs. He was very reluctant to give me the exact locations. All he said was he had to drive down a dirt track and that the breeder was near a lake in the Ghazni region (We have since concluded he must have gone to AB-I-Istada) I asked him how he planned on smuggling the dogs out of Afghanistan. They run from Islam Qala in Herat to Kandahar, then on to Kabul. The others run from Kabul to the holy city of Mazar Sharif, while the third runs from Kabul to the Pakistan border of Tor Kham, entrance to the Khyber Pass. Most other roads are simply dirt tracks, worn by many centuries of use. One can drive the main roads for 100 miles without seeing a soul, suddenly you may come across young Kuchi children gesturing as if they were striking a match. It was their way to ask you to throw them matches. (There is so little industry here that even matches are important). All the main roads have little toll stations manned by a soldier, wearing a worn out Russian military uniform. We paid the toll and the soldier raised the barricade made of a thin pine pole.

After passing Kalar-I-Ghilzai you begin the climb into the foothills of the Hindu Kush. In this area we sighted two men with long rifles with three Tazis' behind them, walking through a barren field. One Tazi looked younger than the first two other. Later we asked Nasser what he thought they were doing, he said that they were probably teaching the young dog to hunt.

By mid-afternoon we arrived in Ghazni. We immediately set out to look for the Tazi breeder of whom we had been told. Most people we asked didn't understand, and simply shrugged their heads. We were just about to give up for the day, when a young boy who spoke broken English came up to us and said "If you want Tazi you must go to ancient Ghazni" He told us to drive three and one half miles out of the city towards Kabul, we would then see an old mosque in a little village there, which was the place we would find our Tazis.

Off we went. We easily found the village, where we parked the van near the mosque. There was two feet of snow on the ground, making driving further into the village impossible. An old man walked up to us and said "Tazi?" to which we replied "Balle". He motioned us to follow him. After trudging through the snow for 10 minutes we came to a large compound enclosed by high mud walls, The old man gestured for us to wait for him by the gate. He went in and soon we heard much barking, soon he returned with the breeder, Shrifez. We followed them down a winding patch through an apricot orchard, There we saw twelve Tazi's, some were free while the fiercer males and two females were tied up under the apricot trees. We counted nine mountain types and three desert types. We walked up to Shrifez's house where he and the two children disappeared under the foundations. They soon emerged with two pups tucked under their arms. These were two black-masked reds, one cream and three brindle blacks. The dam appeared from under the house and had to be held back. She was a well put together cream desert type Tazi. Shrifez then pointed to a superb black mountain type Tazi, stating that he was the sire of the pups. He then asked which pup did we want? We had been very much taken by the little cream female, we tried to explain to Shrifez that we could take her until we had thought of a way to get her across the border. All he could understand was that we didn't want the pup now and we were soon leaving for Kabul. We left him muttering under his breath about foreigners and their strange ways.

Early the next morning we left for Kabul. Upon arrival we went to all the ministries and with the same reply, "We would like to help, but we can't without permission from the President Mohammed Doud" (In 1973 he instigated a coup, while his brother-in-law King Mohammad Zahir was abroad). We had not given up, we just had to explore other possibilities

The following day we were walking through the Jeshyn market and whom should we come across, but the old man who had led us to the breeder in Ghazni. He asked us to wait for him at a nearby shop that sold handicrafts. He returned in ten minutes with the little cream bitch we had so liked. After much bargaining we settled on the sum of six hundred Afghanis ($12.00). Now that she was our responsibility, we had to find a way to get her out of the country.

We named her "Ghazni" and immediately set out to get her distemper injections. We went to the department of Agriculture, who called in several people to examine her. They could not give her the injection because she was a Tazi. They explained that when they inoculated an animal they had to make out a certificate, to do this for a Tazi was impossible, as it would permit us to export her. They did give us some "Coopers Worming Capsules" as she had tapeworms. Soon we left for Herat with Nasser for Christmas. There we came up with the idea of photocopying our Siamese cat's rabies certificate, substituting Siamese with Afghan. This was planned to get Ghazni out of the country.

While in Herat we had to extend out visa, which we easily did with the help of Nasser. We stayed on three more weeks in that peaceful almost medieval town. Then regretfully, it was time to push on to Pakistan. We stopped for several days in the bustling town of Jalalabad, which enjoyed a temperate climate year round. There we found warmth and a beautiful supply of bananas, oranges and pomegranates, which in the winter were a scarce commodity in the colder regions we had visited. We soon met the proprietor of a restaurant we frequented, who said we could pass Ghazni across the border easily, as he knew the head customs inspector. On our appointed day of departure, our new friend was nowhere to be found. We decided it was now or never and off we went to Tor Kham.

Upon arriving at the first checkpoint, a young soldier checked our car for contraband. He glanced at it, as he didn't read English but thought all was in order and asked us no further questions. In the meantime, my husband had befriended Mr. Sidardad, the head customs officer. He very kindly asked us to leave the dog with him until he resolved the paper problem, and even paid the exit tax of two hundred Afghanis ($4.00) before we were told we had to return to Kabul for an exit permit. Back we went to Mr. Sidardad who made several phone calls on our behalf, but everyone he spoke with said that since we had extended our original visa, we had to have this permit to leave. We spent the night camping by the house of Mr. Sidardad. We were up at five a.m. making ready to leave when the armed guard wouldn't let us leave. It turned out the guards had changed during the night and this new fellow was under the impression we were under arrest. Finally all the commotion we made awoke Mr. Sidardad who rapidly grasped the situation, calling the guard a fool, and wished us a safe journey. After paying the police in Kabul a second exit tax, we stopped at the market and bought two kilos of meat for the young soldier we had fooled. On leaving Kabul, we purchased a bottle of brandy and two bottles of wine for Mr. Sidardad, We left the meat with the new guard, who said he was our young friends roommate. Mr. Sidardad had left for the border, where we asked the clerk we had paid the tax to the previous day, to return it, as we had repaid the tax in Kabul. The poor fellow said that it had already been sent to the Treasury, but would repay us from his own pocket. We told him to never mind, but remember us when we passed back through Afghanistan.

Finally, we were at the Pakistan side of the border and were happy thinking that all our Tazi problems were over. Not so, the Agriculture Inspector would not approve the importation of Ghazni, as she had no valid inoculations. We began to be a little worried as it was soon to be sunset, when the Khyber Pass is closed, and the only law is that of feudal tribes. We were thinking about our new problem, when our solution walked up to us. It was the head customs officer who asked us if "we had room enough to give him and another officer a lift to Peshawar?" We said, "We would be glad to but, the Agriculture Inspector won't permit us in because our puppy hasn't had her injection". To which the officer replied "Nonsense!" He immediately had a word with the inspector and away we went, with no further delay.

After six rewarding months with our lovely Tazi, we lost her to tick fever while visiting Ceylon. We gained permission from the Parks Department to bury her in her favorite park, just outside of Columbo. We felt as if we had lost our best friend, but after some thought we decided to return to Ghazni on our return to Europe to find another Tazi.

After a long journey up, complicated by our car breaking down twice, we finally reached Tor Kham. The customs clerk remembered us well, so that after filling out our customs declaration; he didn't bother to check the declaration against the actual goods. Little did he realize I had written in an imaginary Afghan Hound. With the declaration signed and stamped, we set off to Kabul, knowing that now we have no further problems exporting another Tazi Five days later we returned to Ghazni. We stopped first at Shrifez's compound where we bought "Kallila", Ghazni's half sister. We sat under his apricot trees and bargained for three hours, on a hot July afternoon. We finally agreed on the sum of three hundred Afghanis ($6.00) and two Indian cigarettes. She is a black masked true red desert type Tazi, with the same obedient, gentle disposition as Ghazni

We spent the night in the new city of Ghazni. Early the next morning as we were preparing to leave, a young boy walked up to us with an approximately three months old, mountain type Tazi. He offered to sell him to us for two hundred Afghanis ($4.00). We toyed with the idea of trying to export two Tazis' but finally decided that we couldn't, as our declaration only listed one Tazi export. We thought of the French man we had met in Herat, who has tried to cross Islam with his Tazi. Even after offering the soldier a $50.00 baksheesh, he wasn't permitted to cross. Regretfully we left the little boy holding on to his puppy and we set off for Kandahar.

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