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Steve Tillotson

Editor Note - I wrote these notes way back in 1996. An intention was to convey a word picture to my UK friends of my experience/observations of the Afghan Hound in the USA, hence my references to US/UK differences and some explanations on both systems in the report.

Northern California Club Show - Although there is still some detail (results, annual dinner, seminars etc.) to cover in respect of Racine, it's convenient at this point to fit a brief report in on the NAHC Speciality show. In most respects, the Racine, narrative is also representative of the NAHC show. What was different, perhaps, was the number of Afghans exhibited (fewer), the location (West Coast ), the venue (outdoors as part of a general dog show), and, of little importance, but tremendous fun for me - I got to handle an Afghan at this show. Although there were fewer Afghans to see, nevertheless there were plenty of quality Afghans present as evidenced by the presence of the Best Of Winners/Best Opposite Sex Afghan which won at Racine and some other Racine attendees. Coastwind, the famous and long standing West Coast kennel were present and exhibited a young bitch. Also present were Isfahan kennel exhibiting some stylish Afghans. It was fun to tease Robin Vasquez (Isfahan) about having the same Affix that Joan Wonnacott (Isfahan/UK) has held for 30 years. The jesting was all taken in good heart. It was also debut day for a friend's young puppy dog (called "Percy" (Ch NFX A Night To Remember), I love the name) who performed very well and impressed the ringside pundits.

I think any additional observations mainly relate to this show being held outside in the fresh air of California. It was set in the fairgrounds at Pleasanton on green grass (actually, most of the grass in California this time of the year is brown, except for golf courses), that had been cut recently but could have been a tad shorter. In an adjacent ring, Bo Bengston was exhibiting Whippets and occasionally strolled across to the Afghan ring to keep in touch with events. A warm sunny day, stiff breeze at times, deceptively warm as I ended up almost sunburnt with a red face from the breeze and sun. Very nice setting. Upon arrival, early exhibitors had already set up, usually under a canopy they brought with them. These canopies, are 12' x 8' In size (square ones 10' x 10') , under which the exhibitor has all their grooming equipment, crates etc. Its quite usual for this equipment to include wire framed puppy runs - which often contained several adult Afghans. Better than being stuck in a cold tent on a wooden bench on a nice sunny day as is often the case in the UK.. I had been told that exhibitors often carry over 400 pounds of equipment and wondered what all this equipment was used for - now I know..

NAHC had set up a table with hot/cold drinks (including a champagne/orange juice mix! - which I understand is called a "Mimosa") and pastries, bagels, and sausages and various things to eat - hospitality, free of charge for the exhibitors. This Brit certainly enjoyed his early morning cup of tea, courtesy of the, NAHC. Exhibitors and their canopies were set up on three sides of the ring. The fourth side abutted a pathway. That made for a very colourful display and created a nice "village" atmosphere. The entrance to the ring was fronted by a tented/canopy area with the Judges' table underneath and forming an archway entry into the ring. As at Racine, exhibits collected in an area close to the ring entry point then were called in individually . The Judging routine was then much the same as described for Racine..

One nice little touch, I thought, was that at lunch the Judges and officials moved their table to be under the centre of the canopy in full view of, and close to, the exhibitors. So you didn't get the feeling the officials had whizzed off to some posh place for a slap up dinner. (Only joking, in the UK the officials usually go off to a marquee/tent for a pretty basic lunch). Somehow though, it was all the nicer that the Judges remained close by during the lunch period. Emmet Roche (Qamari) judged the sweepstakes and Sandra Weinraub (Sanallah) judged the regular classes and best of breed.

Unfortunately for me, I had picked up some kind of flu virus a few days earlier, and what with being gently cooked in the breezy sunshine, had a temperature of around 102 by the time I was due to handle a friend's Afghan bitch. Being an intrepid Brit, and a bit crazy, I did exhibit the Afghan - who holds a CD title in obedience and led me around quite safely. We didn't win - but we ended up about 6th in a line of 12 and my friend was quite pleased with the way her bitch went. I, of course, had to hold the tail up - another challenge overcome. I was due to attend the Del Valle show next day, at the same venue, but by then the flu virus had gotten worse and I retired to bed with a temperature of 104. Despite the flu, a very enjoyable day spent at the NAHC show


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