Interview to a Charty Polskie breeder:
Mrs. IZABELLA SZMURLO (Celerrimus Kennel)

   by Sandra Zanolla

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I had the honor to have in my home dr. Izabella Szmurlo, the most important breeder of Polish Sighthounds with her sister dr. Malgorzata, both vets. Dr. Malgorzata Szmurlo is the author of the standard of the breed and she's all sighthounds judge in shows, coursing and racing.
Their kennel name " Celerrimus " is known in all the world, and from this kennel come from the most part of actual Polish Sighthounds. The name Celerrimus is almost in all pedigrees.
She wrote for me this article about Polish Sighthounds:


1) when did it begin?

All began in the year 1977, when in our lives arrived Daria, Polish Sighthound.
She was a magnificent female with an unusual, exceptional, resolute character: faithful with her gang and ready to show that she could command. She loved to sleep under the cover, particularly under the warm quilt!
She was wonderful in coursing and shows, but she was really enthusiast in woods and fields.
Still now there is a special place for her in our hearts.
Daria was a perfect model to describe Polish sighthounds.
During thirty-two years we bred these hounds, obtaining so the recognition and the registration of this breed, first in our cinologycal association and then in FCI:
The first litter was in 1977. From that time in our kennel we had thirty-one litters of Polish Sighthounds.

2) how is really the Polish sighthound?

Polish Sighthound is an ancient and primitive breed. A very intelligent hunter, easy to learn.
But you must know that also if he appreciate a lot the cooperation with humans, he isn't inclined to a blind obedience.
He is brave, quite independent but at the same time absolutely tied with his owner.
He has a strong territorial instinct and he doesn't love stranger people in his area; for this reason he's a very good guardian.
The Polish Sighthound is for persons who can appreciate his character side.
Of course, also if he has this strong character, he isn't a " terrorist " in the home!
Inside his family he's very tender, and he needs and looks for cuddles; his end in the life is to sleep on the sofa with his head on the pillow and with warm cover on him.

3) how is this dog in the sport?

He's very careful, his look is full of a perspicacity that he hasn't when he's on the sofa. His reactions are prompt and he acts with much bravery.
In the year 1995 our dogs took part of European Championship at Hildesheim. For technical reasons the hare delayed the departure and we had to calm the dogs, but it was impossible, they were too stiff! In the same way we were stiff when we waited in the boxes the entry sign.
We prefer coursing than racing.
Beside, we worked to organize the early coursing in Poland (in the year 1981 ) in our estate.
The environment was extraordinary, the dogs run in the fields with no cut grass and the hare hid herself in water puddles!
After the coursing we was sitting around the bonfire near the pond and relived all the emotions from the beginning.
This year we celebrate the twenty-fifth coursing anniversary.
Time flies! It's nice to think that even if we are remained few old participants, we are all united to go on.
The old scores in coursing was based on old racing rules. The first dog who passed the curve had points, the second hadn't. This system had nothing in common with the hunting way of Sighthounds, infact dogs didn't work together but only running without any meaning one behind the other, without committing their selves completely to chase the hare.
From that moment Sighthounds lovers began to increase their desire to show the real quality of this breed.
So in Poland born the idea to found an association based on the rules of the French Club of Borzoi. We began to let every dog run alone and also following the
rules of the traditional Polish hunt.
There are also trials with leash, because in Poland we use to hunt (usually with two hounds) with the dogs holding by the leash; when it was wolves hunt, the Sighthounds were three, hold by a man on horseback with a special leash.
To value the trials with leash, is very important dogs intelligence and their tenacity.
It's essential that dogs can run without muzzle, in fact how could they arrive first at the winning post?
It's very pleasant look at a close couple of hounds that work together! Unfortunately many owners (not only of Polish Sighthounds) don't understand at all the rules of this cooperation and let run together dogs of different breeds that didn't run together before.
Every years (from eleven years) in the independence day (11th of November) we organize the St. Hubert coursing, because St. Hubert is
the Patron Saint of Poland (3rd of November) and all hunting holidays are in this day.
We have choose the Poland Patron's holiday to emphasize the roots of the hunt in our Sighthounds.
Before the start of the competition there is a presentation, as opening, that shows Sighthounds with horses riders wear an historical aristocratic costume of XVII century.
We always try to do a different show with horses to let people admire it.
This year we had the famous Polish Hussar horse-riding Parade.
In Poland hunters' holidays is horses' holidays too, because without horses what kind of hunter can be?

4) shows

With shows it's very hard! When I arrive in the place, I'd like to go away, and I prefer to stay to talk with acquaintances! But we must do shows.
The Polish Sighthounds need to be shown in a natural way, the head quite down, but not so down as a Borzoi.
Unfortunately, many exhibitors without experience, think to show well dragging the dog's neck to hold his head high, and the dogs looks like an hanged! And this is not all.
The second mistake is the position: the rear legs must stay in their natural position, the hocks must be perpendicular to the floor, but many people misunderstand the ideal position holding the rear legs as behind as possible.
You need to show a Polish Sighthound with natural professionalism. If well bred and well trained he has a so elegant and so perfect carriage that he seems to fly.
The head is more high than the top line and the leash must stay soft.
Usually, when he stops, you need only a little correction and he's in the optimal position.
If the dog amuse himself in the shows, he's really a " showman"! He has no problems to show himself, but only pleasure.
In that kind of way loved to show themselves Hetka, Dzanga, Raptus, Zulejka, Lubaska,Harap, and now Munszstuk and Markietanka. The worst thing is if the dog hates shows as Sawantka or Galicja that in the show rings moved their selves with pity, never keeping still, looking
with reproach in the eyes like they would say: when shall we go home at last?

5) history

Many people ask always: Polish Sighthound and Chortaja are the same breed?
Once yes, now not really. Chortaja is a variable Sighthound breed, because the dogs in the kennels are very different for size and construction (in a kennel dogs are big and with strong bone structure, in others not so high and with more thin bones), the breed equalization is very far. There aren't many breeders. There are few breeders, mainly out of Russian borderline, who assert that Chortaja was there for first and that Polish Sighthound didn't exist at all. But I think that the answer has been given from evolution, you have to consider the historical course of Polish borderline in the last 300 years, this already an answer at the question. In fact in those ages Polish Sighthounds lived in the west of Ukraine and people debate if it is an old Russian or Polish breed... To conclude, many people thought in the way to support Russian propaganda of the seventy years, but I didn't allow myself influenced and I have my ideas.

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