Three great dog people


The above photograph has been published with the kind permission of Mrs Zena Thorn Andrews.

“Chris Amoo writes “two great dog people, Ahmed Husain and Reg Bassett” and that looks like Camiknickers to me.”

I think the statement should be updated to “three great dog people”. From the left the photograph features Chris Amoo very successful in both Afghans and more recently Irish Wolfhounds and a member of The Real Thing band, Prince Ahmed Hussain a visiting judge to the UK and owner of Ch Reyas Joad of Fortrouge and Reg Bassett of the UK’s Colhugh Borzois. First published by Pam Wild!

For the Borzoi Encyclopedia

Imran Husain

I am honoured, Pam Wild, considered me to pen down my thoughts on life with a Borzoi, or better a host of beautiful Sight Hounds. Dogs had become an inherent part of my life by age 4 and by age 8 I had my very own German Shepherd female. One may ask how at four. Well, my father’s elder brother and my mentor, Prince Ahmed Husain, was besotted with dogs. A visit to his home, which was multiple times a week, perhaps even a day, meant interacting with Poms, Pekes, Cockers, Poodles. I was four when he imported a GSD, Cordo. It was love at first sight. So much so that I refused to return home for two days. My mother had to come and drag me away. Cella, my first, was Cordo’s daughter. And that is the start of my infamous love affair with dogs, which is stronger than ever sixty-six years on.

Uncle Ahmed then got the Greyhound, “Goose”, Eng Ch. Treetops Golden Falcon, Supreme Champion Crufts 1956. This was the most elegant dog I’d ever seen; notwithstanding my total bias for the GSD. His lithe, muscular body, the quarters, I can still visualize. I was perhaps too young then, but now when picture him, I get goosebumps. Temperamentally he was much different to the GSD; more restrained and aloof.  But so elegant in stand and that effortless, graceful gait; then that magnificent burst of speed every now and then in the huge garden. I had the privilege, of course, of being “taken over” the dog by the Grand Master, multiple times. So, perfection, or near to, became my focus. Not an easy to one to live with for the rest of one’s life.

Prince Ahmed’s passion for fine dogs had him spending the majority of his time in England and he attended as many dog shows, as visitor, exhibitor and judge as was humanly possible in those days. During these doggy adventures, he fell for a beautiful Borzoi. I remember my father receiving a telegram informing of his acquisition and that pictures would follow in the mail. There was much excitement. The dog was Eng Ch. Reyas Joad of Fortrouge. Many thanks to Pam for researching and finding me photos of Mike, as he was called.

Mike was transported by sea, as planes didn’t carry that size of live dog, in a proper, huge kennel provided by LEP Transport, the famous name for transport at that time. Throughout the journey, three weeks or so, we kept track of the ship telegraphically, the only means of communication at that time. Finally, on the day it docked, we arrived at the East Wharf Docks in the form of a reception committee to receive our new family member. Mike rode on the rear seat of the car with my uncle, while a flatbed hauled that huge kennel.

He was, again, different to the dogs I knew best. Aloof, yet gentle, with a beautiful smile on his face, that incredible aristocratic structure of the head, the very specific, characteristic movement, the magnificent coat and the beautiful rich red markings. He was the epitome of beauty. He would have been a definite multi best in show winner in India, where the majority of shows were then, and are even now, but logistics to bring a dog this size weren’t at all easy. I recall he went to one show at Bombay and was otherwise shown in Pakistan maybe a couple times. But he was my uncle’s favourite by far, and lived a long and happy life, spending much time by his feet in the library.

The sight hound fervor didn’t end there. In 1960, while in London, came the sad news that Miss Eileen Snelling of the famous Khorassan Afghans had decided to go out of dogs. It of course presented the opportunity to perhaps own a couple of top Afghans. We jumped into the car, uncle, Ahmed, my dad driving as usual with me navigating, something I became an expert at during the pre-navigation times. Miss Snelling welcomed us and showed us the four dogs she had left by this time. Stunning they were too. Eng Ch. Nanda Devi, a group winner at the SKC; Eng Ch. Bahia; and the piece de resistance, the youngest Eng champion then, Yashmak. And a lovely young male named Nizam. The consensus was to take them all. Thus, into my life came these amazing dogs. Nanda Devi and Bahia were older, 5 and 7 I think. Yashmak barely two. My life of grooming and prepping Yashmak took off to a flying start and she won 4 BIS at a trot after coming out. Beating the best in the country.

Many years later, I returned to the Afghans in a smaller way. I bought a young dog from Jenny Dove, Saringa’s Issinoho, who was third in the Junior Class at Crufts. Six months later I bought a very lovely older female from her, if I recall correctly, she was a sister of Abracadabra, Jenny’s brindle Eng Ch in the 70s. I had success with them both in the ring and breeding. The offspring won very well here with some really dedicated owners. On the other side of the scale I have also had Standard Smooth Dachshunds. A multiple BIS winner that I got from Gopi Krishnan in Malaysia and a World Winner male from Germany. They produced a beautiful young bitch that became WW Junior Winner in 2014 with her Lithuanian owner.

Hounds are different, to be admired and respected for their prowess. The elegance in motion is not to be surpassed; the athleticism to be held in complete awe, and the beauty at rest. Rippling muscles, strong powerful flanks, deep briskets; all contributing to harmony. I feel small preaching to the converted!

As a family, we have been really privileged. It has really been exciting, electrifying in fact to have known four Crufts Supreme Champions, including Tracey Witch, the only dog to win it two times, the Greyhound Golden Falcon and the two GSDs, Nibelung and Swashbuckler. Uncle Ahmed is noted as the youngest ever judge, 18 when he started. I have therefore carried the legacy and a burden. And loved every moment of it.

Of late I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with Senator Klisas in Russia. He is the President of the Hunting Dog Federation. An aficionado of the Azawakh; he has some amazing dogs. The current one he is winning with is stunning. And he breeds and exhibits Borzois. It was great to meet his dogs in his beautiful Moscow living room. His love for them is immense and wonderful to experience.

In 2019 I’ve seen a magnificent Whippet and this amazing Azawakh. And am so tempted to take one more step into the fray. It’s the age and the commitment to the GSD that holds me back.

I am grateful to Pam for allowing me the opportunity to reminiscence about my small experiences with sight hounds. It really is a privilege to have known such wonderful specimens of some breeds in this category and to have met some of the great people behind them: Judy de Casembroot, the Sayers, Eileen Snelling and my friend Jenny Dove. My best to the fanciers of these wonderful dogs.  Hopefully the interruptions caused by this awful virus will be history soon.


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Arvid Andersen