Article first appeared on Baraka Book n°14 spring/summer 2001
Interviewing Mrs. Sharon Kinney
When did you get started with Salukis, and why did you choose this breed?
As a child growing up as a military brat, I was always dragging animals home. It wasn't until I was teaching children how to swim during my college years, that I met Nancy Berg who showed bassets. I was taken by her trophy room and all the perks she enjoyed from exbibiting.
My family had Cockers and Poodles while growing up. Jim and I investigated variou breeds such: Afghans, Bouviers Des Flanders and Whippets before deciding upon tbe Saluki. I had always wanted a "big little dog" and the Saluki fit the bill with its sleek lines, or as I love to call them: lean machines!
We purchased our first Saluki from Wayne and Marlys Jensen of tbe famous Jen Araby Kennel in 1973. She was a Huntsman grand daughter, Jen Araby Yaana of lssibaa. She was an Iris marked cream. She was our "learning dog," we slowly learned about Saluki type and temperament. It took a year to learn that her exotic roman nose was not correct for a Saluki! By going with Jen Araby, we acquired excellent type. We were also able to get dog that could move well. You've got to have good movement to get to first place in the show ring. We've been extremely happy with the quality breeding program Wayne maintained. It sure made it easy to begin our breeding program with such good stock.
We know that the Saluki has remained unchanged for 2000 years; do you think Western breeding has changed Salukis? With your almost 30 years in the breed at top levels, have you seen change in the breed? If so, what?
I was very fortunate to be taught dog breeding by a gentleman of the name D.C. Dillingham. D.C. first took me to the Hutchinson's Dog Encyclopedia (published in England) and told me to study the pictures and read tbe bistorical data. This information kept me grounded for my future breeding endeavors with the Saluki. In the 27 litters that I have produced l have tried not to vary from the original purpose. Our breed has been blessed with tough desert origins. The lack of pampering and the use of only those Salukis who were the swiftest for my breeding program saved the present breeder from many serious health concems.
The moderacy in the breed which produces the swiftest of Salukis still rings true today. In my 27 years in the breed, I have seen the American Salukis become more sound in the movement department.
I bave been judging for the past 10 years and have had an opportunity to judge specialties around tbe world. I feel the European Salukis have maintained the Saluki moderacy much better than the Americans. In general, I feel the European Saluki silhouettes are superior to those in the states. When I judge American Salukis that have been purposely bred to be over-angulated, with toplines sloping to the rear, and thus considered "improved," the concept makes me shudder! I feel the Americans have improved side movement. The light, effortless movement is not seen in the ring as often as it was in the 70's and 80's. I feel that effortless movement has been lost for the group-winning expansive trot.
What does Issibaa mean?
When looking for a kennel name, I got an Arabic dictionary from the library. Hopefully, Issibaa means racing in Arabic.
Could you please talk about your foundation Stock?
Jen Araby is my foundation kennel. I purchased my first two bitches (Jen Araby Dion Beki Sorays and Am/Mex Ch. Jen Araby
Teeshma'at) from Wayne and Marlys Jensen. I have used many of their studs: Ch. Jen Araby Ghalleb, Jen Araby Al Dayna, Am.Can Ch. Jen Araby Temujin, and Jen Araby Asil Haleb.
In 1979, we imported a bitch from Debra Copperthwaite. She was Am/Mex Ch. Al Caliph's Eliza of Issibaa CD. She was linebred on the famous Bedouin Caliph and was the product of a half-brother/sister breeding. Eliza was very important to our breeding program in developing lovely shoulder angulation and a curvaceous silhouette of body. Presently, we have her 12-year-old daughter, Am/Mex Ch. Issibaa's Ginger; Gingers 10 year daughter Am/Mex Ch. Issibaa's Libby, and; Libby's smooth son, Issibaa's Aandroo.
Every kennel has a proper trademark, and frequently we can recognize some kennels just by seeing their dogs; what do you think is Issibaa's trademark?
I believe Issibaa Salukis are known for their elegant type and style, with a smooth flowing silhouette and sound free flowing movement. Isn't this everyone's goal? Our Salukis have been part of the AKC slide and video presentations for movement in the past two presentations.
What about the temperament of your dogs, and what about typical Saluki temperament in your opinion.
I feel Salukis should be easy going with a touch of aloofness. They should not be aggressive or overly protective of their people. I don't expect the Papillon temperament of jumping ali over you, but I don't want them shaking in fear either. Salukis should be steady. They should be willing to stand for strangers (and judges). Upon breeding my smooth litter ('99) I found their temperament more happy-go-lucky. Or, as I like to say, "more like a real dog." One has to consider the original lifestyle of the Saluki in the desert in their temperament. You had to be fast and sneaky to survive. Overindulgence didn't exist. These harsh criteria have helped our breed many generations later.
We know you have had. and continue toh ave a lot of success in the show ring and in coursing; could you outline your main successes?
I believe that our success has been brought about by purchasing the best bitch breeding stock available. This was Jen Araby (Wayne and Marlys Jensen) from the west's longest standing kennel in the 1970's. I concentrated upon finding superior sound moving stock (Ch. Jen Araby Ghalleb) for my first two litters. After 10 years of breeding, I imported English (Al Caliph's) to improve upon smooth body silhouettes while still retaining effortless movement. I have always concentrated upon breeding, and keeping bitches to continue my lines, and have been successful doing so.
What do you feel are the main plans in creating a bloodline? How important are phenotype and genotype in a breeding programme?
I believe that bitches are a mainstay in every breeding program. You must strive for the best efforts in the girls because they are the future. Over the years, l've seen people who concentrated on a particular stud dog. Over time, breeding half-brother to half-sister got them into big problems. No dog is perfect. The closer your bloodlines are, only then can you produce consistency over the years. I am not a genetic scientist, but with 30 years in the breed, my litters have taught me invaluable information. Staying within a bloodline, with similar commonalties within the pedigree, is extremely important. When this has been achieved, then you can introduce other well-bred bloodlines into yours. My favorite formula in breeding is uncle to niece or aunt to nephew. With all this said and done, there are always exceptions. My finest dog that I have bred was SBOS Am/Mex/Int Ch. Issibaa's Echo. She produced 11 puppies in her litters. None of them resembled their mother. It is only now that her grandchildren are unmistakably "Echo." Breeding is always full of surprises.
What about your precautions to breed healthy animals; do you use any particular test before breeding?
I will breed a bitch between the ages of 3 to 8. The stud must be at least two, and usually a champion. At these ages, any genetic problems may have become present. I require a thyroid and brucellosis test from a prospective stud as well as the bitch. Obviously, both must be healthy and sound animals.
Who are the best Salukis you have bred. in your opinion, and why?
The best Saluki that I have bred was Ch. Issibaa's Echo. She was born in 1987 and presently is a very rickety 14-year-old. Her dam was the specialty winning Am/Mex/Int/Can/SBIS Ch. Issibaa's Tannya who was in the Top Ten in the USA in 1984 and 1985. Echo had a nearly perfect body silhouette. She was one smooth line from the tip of the nose to her croup. She was honored by Saluki breeders trom England, Canada and the USA. She was appreciated from her very first competition, the San Angeles Saluki Club Futurity in October 1987. She was stylish in her movement and always gave the champions "a run for their money." I hope to breed her daughters Yahooie and Yahtzee when both finish their championships.
How do you raise a litter? What about choosing a promising puppy?
I whelp my litters in my office which is in middle of the family living area. After the first puppy comes, I can place mother and baby the 6' x 6' whelping box. I like them to be in the middle of the action and noise of the family. It is especially funny to watch the old teenage brood bitches watch the young mother with her babies. l've had many grandmothers jump in the whelping box to help with the babies. At four weeks, the babies are put outside for a few hours with the Papillons. This way they begin to respect the smaller guys. This lasts no longer than a month, then the Saluki babies outweigh the Paps! At eight weeks the babies can enter the ¼ acre paddock area where the big guys roam to really be able to stretch their legs with their Mom.
I pick my puppies between six and eight weeks. I find this is the age that is best representative of what they will be as adults. If I question their movement, I will video tape them and use that as a tool. This is how I ended up keeping Echo in her litter. I wanted to keep Espirit who was the same color (golden grizzle) and temperament as her dam Tannya. I used the video to make my final decision and Echo far out moved ber sister. That was how I kept my first parti! I find that I can spot the special, light movement that I so desire at this age. I even look for this same movement when I judge!
Thank you for asking me to do this interview. It was a pleasure.