Even more remarkably he was also out competing in NOTRA Oval Track Racing and AKC Lure Coursing during that year and his son Blaze became the forth male Borzoi to accomplish this.

Aatis is an an outstanding athlete with a full dark brindle coat and dark eyes. He earned 3 major performance titles before his 2nd birthday!!

Aatis, a charming and pleasant Borzoi, is an outstanding athlete with a full dark brindle coat and dark eyes. He earned 3 major performance titles before his 2nd birthday! His 1994 #1 ASFA Borzoi rank is remarkable since he was also out Oval Racing and AKC Lure Coursing during 1994, making the top 10 in AKC and the top 4 in NOTRA. 1994 was his second year of lure coursing, he had made the ASFA and AKC Top 10 in 1993. Since his birthday is June 21 half of his first year of coursing eligability (1993) was past before he could compete. I did not extensively compaign him that first year. Currently he is working on his Supreme Oval Racing Championship, a very difficult title because there are so few oval races to attend. He is also more than half way towards his second LCM, for which he has 6 firsts and 164 points in 11 trials.

Physically he has balanced fore and hindquarter musculature, optimal angulation, and a flexible spine. Not only fast - he can turn. More than once a lure operator or judge has commented "he turns like a whippet!"

Along his sire's line Aatis is a 3rd generation LCM and a 2nd generation oval racing Borzoi. Along the dam's line he is descended from Aatis Lillstrom's top coursing hound Windhound's Wookey, LCM 3. In fact he is named in honor of Aatis Lillstrom.

Aatis is one of 84 performance titled Borzoi that I have bred, trained and/or coursed. We have had a very high percentage of ASFA titled dogs from our breeding program over since 1976, all but 4 of our Borzoi litters have produced ASFA titlists. In my experience there is no tool that aids a breeder to produce healthy dogs like a real performance test. Not a test that enables the breeder to bluff their way into a title but a test that requires the dog to be sturdy and healthy and to be able to perform over a period of time. In my opinion in 1994, in sighthounds, there are only two such tools available to the vast majority of breeders - the ASFA LCM and the NOTRA ORC. The open field titles are probably the supreme test but they are inaccessable to so many breeders that they are not useful as a tool to the breed as a whole.

Without a performance test breeding dogs becomes an exercise in aesthetics and politics and the overall health and vigor of a breed will decline while the breed itself will be warped into increasingly exaggerated and non functional forms under the pressure of "standing out in the show ring".

When we first started going to ASFA field trials with our own Borzoi in 1977, one Borzoi pup in a litter on the average had enough interest to course and enough focus to course the lure rather than the other dog. That was all that was needed to be a pretty good courser. As the years have passed the percentage of Borzoi pups from our breeding program that will successfuly course has risen so that now it is only one or two per litter from our coursing titled parents that do not course and several in a litter that are outstanding coursers.

Because other breeders are also paying some attention to lure coursing ability, in some parts of the country competition in Borzoi is intense enough that the hounds actually have to be physically fit and fast to win. This is a great improvement and it means that the performance test may soon start to effect the breed as a whole.

I now have bred litters that have as many as 4 generations of multiple LCM, Top 10 titled Borzoi in the pedigree. What do the dogs look like? They now tend to look very much like the pictures from the turn of the centuary. The Borzoi of the Perchino hunt. Borzoi headed, long coated greyhounds rather than giant art noveau decorative objects. They are back into the size range reported for the original dogs from the Russian hunts. 26 to 28 inches for bitches and 28 to 30 inches for dogs. The bigger dogs either are slow and can make the turns or if they are fast they get wiped out on the turns by being allowed to stay too close to the lure. This inability of lure operators to lead a fast athletic Borzoi adequatly is the only serious drawback to lure coursing as a performance tool to the Borzoi breeder. In the NOTRA oval racing, athletic large sized dogs are not handicapped. However the NOTRA oval racing is not widely enough supported yet by Borzoi fanciers to be a useful performance test.

We actively strive to keep the co-effeicient of inbreeding down in our dogs. This results in a larger number of healthy vigorous dogs in a litter. Aatis' co-efficient of inbreeding is 2.5% calculated over 10 generations. That of most Borzoi from established (ie 3 or more generations of breeding) kennels is between 12% and 33%. For reference the co-efficient of inbreeding on a half brother half sister cross is 12.5%, that of a father daughter breeding is 25%.

In my experience the most important factor in having a decent coursing Borzoi is focus on the lure so that the dog does not interfere. There is a major genetic component to this. Having an athletic body is important if the dog is to have a long coursing career. Slow, stiff backed Borzoi with intense focus will still do fairly well at many trials because of emphasis on follow in judging and the inability of larger Borzoi to turn like whippets when they are allowed to run with the lure under their nose.

In terms of hints for rearing a good courser, the promising pup needs free exercise with its littermates as it grows and it needs to be feed an adequate but not overly rich diet. The pup is played with with a lure toy and then taken out at 10 to 11 months of age and introduced to the lure itself. After the pup has demonstrated focus by running moderately complex courses by itself several times we then try to run our pups with stable running adults to test them with other hounds (and to teach them to run the lure and not course other hounds).

Borzoi are a difficult breed for ASFA competition. Most of them do not course well. Either they interfere or they have physical problems relating to deformities of the back or to being sickle hocked or weak in the fore pasterns. Of those that have te physical ability to run normally many course the other hounds rather than the lure. This is partially due to their slow growth and late maturity. A whippet is mentally mature at 12 months of age, a male Borzoi at 24 months is still somewhere in mid adolescence. If they do course clean - then they may be so insanely focused on catching the lure that they quickly learn cut to get it. About 65% of the dogs are 25 mile and hour dogs (as fast as an Afghan), the balance being 33 mph dogs (as fast as a grade D NGA Greyhound). The result is that most Borzoi courses when there are large entries in a stake are rather like best in field runs. Slow dogs against fast dogs, big dogs against small agile dogs. The potential for injury to hounds is high in such situations. Borzoi also have another trick. Many will appear to be running as fast as they can and yet if they get withing 4 yards of the lure they will suddenly find a reservoir speed and sprint to grab the lure. This can be frustrating to the lure operator if it happens on a straight away but it can be disasterous to the hound if the lure was slowed down just before a pully (which sometimes happens) as the dog will sprint and grab the lure just as it is on top of the pully, damaging itself. No wonder most lure operators, to whom Borzoi are not a major breed, have trouble with them and cringe when the Borzoi drag their owners onto the field!

No wonder many judges find them frustrating to judge! I myself compete in Borzoi so I rarely have to judge them and I only run the lure for them during training and practice. Some lure operators and judges view this as a cop-out on my part.

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