We brought our first puppy home in 1974, surprising our family with a pet Afghan Hound (Zar). Soon after, we entered him into an exemption dog show in Purley, Surrey, where we lived at the time. Returning home with a rosette and card, we realised that this was an enjoyable social activity.
Two years later we decided that Zar needed some companionship, so we researched sight hounds and arranged a meeting with Brian & Rosemary Hill, of Hekla Kennel; we instantly fell in love with Salukis, a bond was made and we knew they would always play an important part in our lives.
Following our approval from Brian & Rosemary, we then met Eileen Skelton-Fortune, who after vetting us reiterated the responsibility of being owned by a Saluki.
In June 1977, we proudly collected Hekla Royal Arab (Sultan) – Ch Wildspray of Daxlore of Hekla x Sedeiki Idi of Hekla and started our journey with Salukis.
Brian & Rosemary carried out a repeat mating, producing their “B” Litter. Having asked Brian & Rosemary for their advice, we had arranged to come home with the beautiful Hekla Royal Ballerina (Sorrell), whom we planned to breed from in the future, however we made the journey home with one of her litter brothers too, Hekla Royal Buccaneer (Saracen), a handsome red and white parti colour that Michele immediately fell in love with. We spent the next few years enjoying our free time travelling the country, and attending various shows in good company.
In 1982 we produced our own “A” Litter, our son Anthony. A short while later due to health issues and business commitments, we reluctantly retired from showing and Zar, Sultan, Saracen and Sorrell became sofa dogs, finally leaving us through old age. The last to leave us was Sorrell in 1992, at 13 and a half years.
The following year, we rescued a Whippet, who was successfully re homed through Whippet Rescue, and later the same year we found a Saluki dragging a rope and chain running through a local street. We sought help from Denise Rogers, who we had known from our early days of showing, who at the time had Afghans. Not having a property that was suitable for dogs, we delivered the Saluki to rescue Kennels, and she was re-homed successfully. Although we were happy for her, we had to admit that our life was not complete without Salukis.
In 2014, we visited various shows and looked at who was showing, current breeders and made contact with Sheryl Steer at Fernlark. She had recently had a litter of reserved puppies, luckily for us, due to a prospective owners personal situation one of the puppies became available again. We found ourselves with a little red dog puppy, Fernlark Daquiri (Kmeil). Although we knew he was not going to make a top show dog, we couldn’t resist him and enjoyed meeting up again with many of the original Saluki owners from the 70’s who are still showing.
Unable to ignore the lure of the show ring and meeting Sheryl on a daily basis to run Kmeil in a secure Saluki-proof paddock, we encouraged and assisted in the breeding of Ch Jorjenjo Mirzam of Fernlark JW (Rafi) x Kirman Dafnia at Fernlark JW (Dafnia), which resulted in a beautiful litter of five puppies: Fernlark Alessandra Kirman, Fernlark Almira, Fernlark Alvara at Ceimiad, Fernlark Azzalino and Fernlark By Design (Louis), our latest champion.
Earlier during 2017, Sheryl suggested that as we were actively involved with Fernlark and showing, that she would like for us to take over the Fernlark Kennel and continued breeding programme. After much discussion between us, we gratefully accepted and together with her on-going guidance, our journey continues…