Every Man Needs a Dog
The first saluki that caught my eye was on the photograph in Joan Palmer’s “Illustrated Guide to Dogs”. It was a delightfully small image of an absolutely pink bitch with a puppy. The comment under this image read that this hound is very rare in Europe and that it came from the Middle East. Along with slugi, these dogs were pronounced clean when the Islamic religion swept the Arab world. As far as I remember, saluki’s only fault was strong chasing instinct. Anyway, I guess, the only reason that I paid attention to saluki is because its picture was the most beautiful in the whole book.
The thought that I like this pink beauty escaped from my twelve year old head as soon as I closed the book. However, it bounced back many years later when another Arab – slugi, came to live in our house. An eighteen-month-old creature came as a surprise gift with no instructions of use. The three things that I knew about him were that his name was Kir, he liked to eat and he was very opinionated. It took me some time to realize that these qualities are common to all oriental hounds. As the time passed and Kir settled in our house, I started to look for his relatives, slugis in general. The three-year search brought no result. I guess there simply were no other slugis in Russia. However, I got hooked on the mystery of oriental hound dogs, started to dig deeper and gathered plentiful information about their history, special traits and character.
My interest begun to dampen when I realized that my search brought me to the dead-end. Either there were simply no people who were interested in Arabian hounds in Russia, or they just hid too well to track them down. Kir really did not care about the lack of his fellow-tribesmen; he was a real republican and equally hated dogs of all breeds.
Nevertheless, the fate kept on knocking on my door and I met a charming girl, who later became my wife and revived my interest to dogs, this time, it seems, forever. Besides this, we were blessed by an amusing phenomenon that common people call Internet. It gave us access to loads of materials to research, and finally we got hooked on an idea to export an Arabian dog from abroad. By that time we moved in together into a separate apartment. We ended up living without dogs and soon came to the mutual realization was that we could not exist without some wagging tails around our happiness.
After we spent reasonably long time arguing about oriental hounds and writing to breeders all over the world, we finally found a 5-month old puppy that patiently have been waiting for its owners in the faraway Norway. Next thing was to convince the breeder to sell us the dog. All we had to do is to swear that it won’t be eaten by hungry stray bears in Russia or used as a food supply by humans during especially hungry winter. Such negotiations are always difficult, and in case with such a specific breed as saluki, it becomes especially difficult. Salukis and their owners choose people only by a single criterion – their relationships with salukis. Anyway, all I had to do is to prove two things: first of all, that I will be able to take care of the dog and I know how to do it, and, secondly, I know exactly, what I will have to deal with and I will be able to withstand all difficulties of sharing a life with saluki.
We managed to convince the breeder. Then we even got the visa. Norway is a very special country, very loyal and friendly to Russia, which is confirmed by granting free tourist visas to Russian citizens. The next thing that we knew – we had to go to pick up our “treasure”. My wife-to-be went to Norway and I remained at home to prepare for the high visitor. Well, that is pretty much it for the prehistory.
Historical meeting took place on October 25, 1999 in the Moscow airport Sheremetyevo-2. The first thing that I saw at the arrival section was my girl crying her eyes out next to the crate…
What had actually happened you can find out on Darius’ page.