I always loved dogs, much to the chagrin of my parents and brother. I first saw a saluki in my teens and decided that one day I would own one.
But it was when I decided to 'settle down and get a job' aged 23, and I first saw a lady walking two afghan hounds that I stopped my car and ran over to her to ask what breed they were. And so began my love affair with afghans.
I bought my first afghan Tara, a daughter of CH Bondor Azim Khan in 1974 thinking of her only as a pet, but when people said how nice she was and should be shown, my lifelong love/hate relationship with the show ring began.
Tara was well placed at CH and open shows in huge classes. She was brought out again in middle age, winning 1st and 4th Limit bitch at her two CH shows. She was mated only once to the fabulous CH Sacheverell Zukwala, producing multiple show winners Shaybani Khushal Khan, S Khadiya Khanum, S Natara , S Kutayba Khurasan and S Kara of Mistrelyn in 1976.
Being a single working girl, I rarely bred but brought back home a beautiful daughter, Poppy (Mistrelyn Solstice of Shaybani) from S Kara and the glamorous CH Dominic Rajendea. Poppy won BPIS at Scottish afghan CH , 2nd puppy at Crufts (2nd to her sister Mistrelyn Andromeda) , gained 32 points and awarded her JW and was placed highly at most of her shows. She had won junior to qualify for her 2nd Crufts when she broke her leg badly, so unfortunately ending her show career at only 19 months old.
In 1985 Poppy was mated to the lovely Karachi Khan, producing only four puppies. Two were shown S. Acaena (Lizzie) and S Ajuga (Tommy), and both were very successful, winning multiple prizes.
In 1992 Lizzie produced a lovely litter to CH Izmar Tragband Finnegan. Four went to show homes and all four gained their JW and stud book nos. S The Duke (Bodie) gained 4CCs and 1RCC. He also won the Pedigree Chum CH Stakes class at B'ham National in 1995 under Herr Hans Muller (Ger); S Little Princess (Mindy)gained 3Green Stars; S Little Lady of Watsatari (Sally)won BPIS at Cheshire all breed open show, plus multiple CH show wins; S The Sun King (Barney) won 14x 1sts and 16x 2nds at CH shows in puppy and junior classes in addition to multiple 1sts in older classes.
It was when Barney was six years old and his older kennelmates had passed away that I decided it was the right time for a saluki, and so Enya, a 14 month old rescue saluki joined the household. She was a Xmas present from my partner Bob, who had also moved in with his two year old cat, Scully. Enya had the most wonderful, kind and loving temperament and fortunately lived until the ripe old age of 16 years 9 months.
In August 2001 Bob and I were married and so my show name of Elaine Sutton changed to Elaine Sydney.
I bought my first show saluki Sufeina Pebble of Shaybani (Millie) in 2002 and showed her only a few times before moving to Spain. Nevertheless, pretty Millie did have her fans and won BPIS and BIS at the local fun dog show aged only 4 months. At 15 months of age, Millie won RBOB at the Cheshire show and was placed at several CH shows.
In November 2004, Bob and I moved to Spain with our animal family, where we were having a house built, and so started our new life abroad in the sun.
To our great distress, Millie was diagnosed with lymphoma soon after arriving, and after six months of treatment, she died in September 2005 aged only 3 years 6 months.
The house seemed so empty without her, so a month later we visited the local dog pound and adopted a 2 year old Ibizan Hound, Khayli. 13 year old Barney died in June 2006, so we then adopted the 8 year old rescued cocker spaniel Freddy, who came with a German pedigree.
Freddy was such a character with lots of bad habits. His teeth were worn down and jagged from picking up stones thrown by his previous owner, and it took months of regular walking and ignoring his barking for stones before he settled into our way of life. Poor Freddy died of cancer three years later, but I'm sure his three years were happy.
It was while we still had Freddy that I decided I would like to show salukis in Spain, so in early Summer 2009 Bob and I drove up to Helen and David Graham's house in Southern France to collect Olivia (Daxlore Bisou of Shaybani). Olivia soon settled in with Enya, Khayli, Freddy and thirteen year old Scully, and in November 2009 we attended our first show in Spain.
Olivia went on to become a Spanish CH, and won 1st in junior at Birmingham CH show in September 2010, but her heart was never into showing.
So in 2012 we took the decision to buy another Daxlore puppy, and so Freya (Daxlore Harani of Shaybani) joined the household. From the offset I knew she could do well in the show ring. She loved playing with other dogs and really enjoyed the day out at shows. Rarely beaten in Spain, she soon gained her Junior CH title (first created in 2013). In Summer 2013 she won several CH show placings in the UK including 1st at Darlington CH . En route back to Spain in the September, Freya beat several champions to win BOB at Gibraltar CH show and the following day she won CAC to make her a Gibraltar CH at only 15 months old. Freya continued her winning ways, gaining two CACs and a CACIB in France in June 2014, two RCCs in the UK in September and in October 2014 she gained her final points at the RSCE obligatory point show in Spain for her Spanish CH and International CH titles.
In February 2015, Freya won BOB and RBIS at the afghan and saluki breed club CH show, and in Summer 2015 won another RCC and a CC, BOB and group finalist before returning to Spain in the October. Two further CACIBs won in Spain from champion classes gave her the new title 'Super CH of Spain'.
For details and photos of all the above dogs, please go to the appropriate webpage.