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Learning from Streamer

streamer

I’ve been working with Streamer, the tazi-saluki, and I must say that much of what people believe about these dogs is false.

Dog trainers often say you cannot train these dogs, but the truth of the matter is he’s quite soft.  His softness does not manifest itself in cowering before me when he does something to make me cross. His softness manifests itself in attempting to avoid me.

The trick is to have a rapport with this dog before you start making demands of any kind. He is not afraid of people, but he is quite aloof. For him to trust me, we have had to become friends.

When he first arrived at the airport, he glared at me and snarl-barked at me. I’ve never seen an eight-week-old puppy act so primal and so primitive.

He and I never really interacted. He was not supposed to be my dog, but one day in February, he decided that he wanted to be mine, and I’ve been working with him ever since.

I cannot say that everyone should have a dog of this type. This type of dog requires an understanding of what it’s like to have a sensitive and soft dog that is combined with a general primitive dog’s tendency to be independence. Independence combined with softenss is not something that the major schools of dog training are really equipped to understand, and that’s why so many dog trainers think of these breeds as quite incorrigible.

But he’s not really. Because he’s so well-socialized to people and other dogs, he’s actually quite stable. He won’t run over and lick your hand like a golden retriever would, but he’s not nervy or jumpy at all.

As he has matured, he has become more and more less socially open, but his reserved nature is not like the old school chow chow’s.  He just has a small circle of people he trusts.

Working with a dog with this fundamental nature is teaching me many things about other dogs. I am reminded of what falconers require their apprentices to work with first.  They very rarely tell their apprentices to get Harris’s hawks, because Harris’s hawks are cooperative hunters. The usually tell them to get a kestrel or a red-tailed hawk, because they are more independent.

I’m learning what it’s like to have a dog that is not derived from that Western dog concept of an obedient servant.  I’m picking up ideas of that will make it easier to work with other breeds that might be easier to work with.

So I have a leash-broken saluki that walks at a perfect heel.  He sits at the curb when I cross the street. He is a beautiful creature. His feathering is starting to grow in, and he will be a magnificent manly dog when he matures.

I look like a real dog man when I walk this dog. He stares up at me with adoration at a heel, and I start to believe the illusion.

Though I probably shouldn’t.

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Oinky pig courser

streamer-oinky-pig.jpg

Streamer likes to fetch and then zoom around with the oinky pig.

His feathering is coming in nicely too.

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streamer getting saluki shaped

My saluki-tazi Streamer is turning into a proper sighthound. His feathering grows a little every week, and he’s decided that he absolutely is mine.

The affection one gets from one of these dogs is of a different quality than what I’ve received from other breeds. It’s quite understated but adoring. He looks at me with soft-brown eyes, and I run my fingers through his nascent ear feathers.  He doesn’t even do the whippet thing where they leap around with silliness.

His affection is deep, but it is of a quieter quality. This is a dog that is only seven months old, but he already has that essence of something a bit wilder, a bit different from what I’m used to.

I call him my snow leopard. Part of that joke is that his brindle coloration reminds me so much of that Himalayan pantherine, but he also has that mystery about him.

I have him trained fairly well, but I also recognize that his innate nature is somewhat different from Western sighthounds, herding dogs, and gun dogs. He does not have that desire to gain my approval. He loves me, but he is still distant.

The fact that he is so bonded to me is an odd paradox. He thinks I’m the best person in the world, but he is very much is his own dog.

This is the true appeal of a dog like this.  You don’t get one hoping to have an obedient servant. You get one hoping to become its partner, its human.

And I have become one, and for no other reason than I take him out and run him during these formative months. He was not initially going to be mine, but he made his decision about which of the household he preferred.

So it is a strange thing to have a dog like this. This is a different quality of dog than I am used to.

 

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Streamer is turning into saluki

streamer posing

Six months old, and he’s getting feathering and a runner’s body.

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Half Kazakh vs. All England

Streamer the saluki pursued by Poet the whippet. Streamer is half desert-bred saluki and half tazi from Kazakhstan. He’s a saluki by DNA and by common sense and maybe by the UKC.

Kazakh vs. all england

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We got a big snow last night. The dogs enjoyed frolicking in the aftermath.


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The boys

Poet (whippet) and Streamer (saluki/tazi) out mafficking about on a sunny November Afternoon.

poet streamer 1

poet stremer 5

poet streamer 4

poet streamer 2

poet streamer 6

popo 1

popo

 

 

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The Salukis

streamer

One week ago today, Jenna and I went to Pittsburgh to pick up some puppies at the airport. We found ourselves at some desolate warehouse place, but yes, they had our delivery from Albuquerque.

They loaded the shipping box into our van. Zoom, the old whippet, raised his head to watch the proceedings, and out of that crate rose of cacophony of primitive puppy barks.

The barker was the brindle named Streamer but called “Baz” at his breeder’s home. He had gone through enough moves and jostles, and to be face to face with that short-eared dog was the last straw.

Jenna quickly got both pups out of the crate. Streamer glowered at me from the passenger seat, but the other puppy, the cream and white Mango, stared up at me with abject suspicious. “You’re not gonna eat me, are you?” his eyes seemed to ask.

And I drove them home. Mango decided that I was his safety, and he began to follow me from room to room. Streamer, a hot-blooded Arabian stallion of a pup, decided to snap at the old whippet on the sofa, and he received a muzzle snap for his impudence..

Thus began my journey with an even more different sort of dog.  I should add that these are not normal AKC salukis, but they are a cross between a tazi with ancestors from Kazakhstan and Middle Eastern or “desert bred salukis.” Their sire is Tavi, a dog that has been featured on the Qurencia blog many times. Their mother is brindle and white, and thus controversial to the saluki purists. Both live with Shiri Hoshen in New Mexico, and this is the first litter produced between the two parents.

Mango is not ours. He will be going through a vaccine and titer regime over the next few months before he will be send to live with a good friend of this blog in Australia.

But right now, Mango is just learning about this foreign land, where the grass is green and spongy, and the rain drops from the sky regularly and make the air cool and crisp.

He is learning about wolf-like dogs with prick ears and intense eyes, and drop-eared almost Saluki-like things that carry things in their mouths. He will need much socialization to be made ready for that long trip Down Under.

But he has the softest, brownest eyes I’ve ever seen on a dog. He will be a great dog. I just hope to do him justice.

mango

Streamer will be staying here, and I hope will be reformed into a nice high status dog.

/And so I will learn a new breed once again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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tazi mating with wolf

This image appeared on a Kazakh instagram account. 

The wolf appears to be a steppe wolf (Canis lupus campestris). In Kazakhstan, people keep wolves as pets and “guard dogs” fairly often, and according to Stephen Bodio, they are obsessed with wolves.

The dog is a tazi, a sighthound of the general saluki breed complex, that has quite a few wolf-like characteristics. The breed is usually monestrus, like a wolf, coyote, or a basenji, and females engage in social suppression of estrus and sometimes kill puppies that are born to lower ranking bitches.

I wonder if the wolf-like traits of this breed are somehow reinforced by occasionally crossings with captive and wandering wolves like this. As far as I know, no one has really looked into the genetics of the Kazakh tazi, but it is an unusual dog that lives in a society with a very strong tradition of keeping captive wolves.

We know that gene flows between Eurasian wolves and dogs is much higher than we initially imagined, but I don’t know if anyone is looking at breeds like these for signs of hybridization. The only study I’ve seen looked at livestock guardian dogs from the Caucasus, and it found quite a bit of gene flow-– and it was mostly unintentional.

It would be interesting to know exactly how much wolf is in Kazakh tazis. I would be shocked to learn that they had no wolf ancestry.

I seriously doubt that this is the only time a captive steppe wolf and a tazi were found in this position.

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Source.

I believe this is a gyrfalcon, but I’m not really sure.

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