Sighthound of the Sahel - nomade
Our ABIS Expedition 2000 began in Tin Akoff, Burkina Faso and led us to Mali deep into the eastern region of the Azawakh Valley.
My task was to oversee the transportation of 500 rabies vaccines for the Azawakhs living in the Tin Akoff region and to keep a statistical record of the dogs we encountered in Burkina Faso and Mali. As in earlier expeditions it was also up to me to provide medical care for the members of our expedition and as long as our supply was not completely exhausted, to provide medical emergency help for the people and animals in the settlements and nomad camps we visited.
For this expedition, we also planned to select puppies for importation to Europe. As we made our way into the eastern Azawakh Valley we visited several nomad camps, home to many beautiful adult dogs but unfortunately no puppies. On the tenth day we reached Inekar, the easternmost point of our expedition, where we hired a local guide. He told us that we were the first foreigners who had travelled to this region during the previous eight years. He promised to take us to a nomad camp that currently had puppies.
The following journey led us across old camel trails, dunes and the detrital desert, pushing us and our vehicles to the limits of endurance.
We arrived at a rather large nomad camp on the morning of February 10. There we found a 4-5 week-old bitch puppy with a dark coat in a small enclosure. The owners of the puppy took us to the see the dam of the puppy where we were able to inspect the rest of the puppies and the presumed sire. As a departing gift, the chief of the first camp gave us the small bitch with the dark coat, thus we came into possession of the first puppy of our trip. Our second puppy was found in the very next encampment. The dam had returned into her den with her two remaining offspring, a light sand-coloured male puppy and a red bitch puppy. When we were offered our choice of one of the puppies we decided on the red bitch and named her Mariam
While looking for a place to rest during the midday we suddenly noticed the wonderful silhouettes of two Azawakhs backlit on the ridge of a dune. We made our way up to the dogs and saw that they were a male dog and a bitch nursing puppies. The mother dog had streaks of light sand colour and corresponded exactly to my ideal of build and charm - and she had offspring!
Since I had promised my husband not to bring back any puppies, I remained at our camp for some time to resist my desire to obtain one of the puppies. I prepared lunch while the other expedition members visited the Touareg camp. When lunch was ready my friend brought me back a welcome gift: two small male puppies. They were accompanied by the camp chieftain, his son, some women and children, and the dam of the puppies, together with two fully grown male dogs. The Touareg chieftain and his son talked with me for some time and asked me for some bandages and medicine, which I gladly provided. Then he asked me to come to their encampment where he personally presented me with a female puppy; she, streaked with light sand colouring, the spitting image of her beautiful dam.
So by now we were taking care of five puppies. The larger ones were already eating solid food; the three smallest ones still needed to be bottle-fed. The next day we saw a very elegant red bitch with almost a complete litter in one of the nomad camps. We took a look at the puppies and were allowed to pick out a bitch as a gift, which we did with delight; she was christened Taytok on the spot.
Back in Tin Akoff our six puppies were naturally accepted into Ayad's Azawakh pack. Even a bitch stayed in our camp to guard the puppies and regurgitated food for her "favourite". One of the male dogs from the Azawakh Valley stayed with Ayad ag Inachanan, our guide (and ABIS - representative in Tin Akoff…. the dog developed splendidly, as we were able to observe during the 2001 expedition, and has already enriched Ayad's Azawakh breeding program). The remaining five puppies live today in Germany and have grown into typical fun-loving Azawakhs.
My gift, the smallAlhamziat, Alhamziet, currently lives in Bavaria with a friend of mine who also owns a bitch from Münsterland, a Newfoundland, an Azawakh bitch and her foster mother, and an American bulldog bitch.
Taytok and Mariam live in a pack of Azawakhs with breeders in Frankfurt/Main and Munich. Dschagir, brother, resides in Berlin with two hairless hybrids, a Shi Tzu-bitch and the desert bred Azawakh Azabor, Azabor sired my C-litter That first, small bitch, found in the enclosure in a Touareg encampment, Chaydaralives today in Berlin as the only dog of a young woman.
I have no doubt that these precious dogs from the very homeland of the Azawakh should enrich and expand the gene-pool of the European Azawakh population.