The First Afghans in Barry
I remember it as if it had happened only yesterday although it was thirty-six years ago to the month. I had been
on a schoolboy cruise to the Soviet Union. I say schoolboy cruise because our part had been organised by our
school, 'Barry Boys Comprehensive School' although there were in fact 1,200 boys and girls from all over South
Wales on board the SS Nevassa.
The First Afghans in Barry
When we docked in Swansea, my parents and four brothers were there to meet me
and they had a surprise for me; waiting at the end of the pier was one of my brothers with a new puppy called
Sheba. Sheba was an eight-week old Afghan Hound and I had never seen such a beautiful-looking dog in all my
I had never heard of Afghans before - Afghan Hounds anyway.
She was about knee-height on me then with golden, but still short hair. Her long, curled tail wagged when she
saw me approaching, even though we had never met before. I was allowed to take the lead and walk her back to the
car and she travelled the 50 miles back to our home in Barry on my lap as she was still nervous about riding
in a vehicle.
It was love at first sight although that is not to belittle the Pomeranian and two Japanese Chins that we had
had before. I have always loved dogs and, except for one angry dog that bit me once, they have always taken to me
too. It is not for nothing that several girlfriends over the decades have likened me to a dog and my Buddhist wife
is sure that I was a dog or a wolf in my last life!
Make of that what you will!
Anyway, my mother started to show Sheba and they did quite well even against other Afghans owned by breeders. In
fact, my father bought a Manchester Toy Terrier to show too because they were away every weekend at shows or I
should say that the whole family was as we all loved the dog shows.
After minor success at Crufts as a puppy or young dog, Mum decided to continue showing and to breed Sheba too.
Mrs. Freda Whitely, from whom Dad had bought Sheba was a great help, so my parents used a sire from there.
I had started weighing Sheba from the first day that I met her and I continued doing this throughout her
pregnancy. I had always prepared her food and vitamins too. I studied dogs in general and Afghans in particular
with every library book I could find on the subject.
My parents allowed Sheba to live in the house a little too long, because one day when we were all out, Sheba
ripped open our new, three-day old leather sofa - my mother's pride and joy - to make a nest to have her puppies
in. She even pulled the velvet curtains down to lie on.
That weekend my father built a kennel in the garden.
Sheba and her three puppies lived out there quite happily and I spent every moment I wasn't at school in there
with them. They had a large compound surrounded by a six foot high chicken wire fence, which Sheba could clear. She
was by now waist-height to me.
My mother was usually busy with housework, so I hung a large hand-bell in the kennel and taught the dogs to ring
it if their bowls needed filling, which they learned to do in a few days.
I thought that that was helping my mother, but she was not as impressed as I was with the Afghans' new-found
I had to leave Barry and go off to college shortly after the sale of two of the pups; then Mum died and so
did the fourth of the Afghans and my Dad moved out. One of my brothers took over looking after Sheba and
she lived to a ripe old age in the garden that she had grown up in.
by +Owen Jones
Please take a look at my book on dogs by clicking here: 'A Dog's Life'