History is replete with accounts of dogs given as gifts. They were offered as gestures of goodwill, and as diplomatic gifts that bonded countries together. In special instances, a dog might be offered as a token of gratitude.
Among European royals, hunting dogs were popular to give to each other, while in China, Japan, and Tibet, smaller breeds such as the Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso and Tibetan Terrier were bestowed as gifts, the latter, for example, a gesture of appreciation that was extended to Dr. Agnes R. H. Greig, an English doctor in Northern India who was given a Tibetan Terrier for saving a woman’s life.
We don’t often think of sighthounds as gifts, but in some countries, it’s not unusual, in part because sighthounds were hunting dogs. The Kanni of India, for instance, has been traditionally given as a gift to newlywed brides for protection, and receiving one signifies high honor and great respect.
Another instance of a sighthound given in appreciation came in the mid to late 20th century with a Yugoslavian diplomat named Doctor Pečar. Stationed in Burkina Faso at the time, Pečar had always wanted an Azawakh, but local customs prohibited their sale. It was only when Pečar bartered his services as a hunter and killed a bull elephant that had been terrorizing a West African tribe that he came by his first female Azawakh, a gift from the thankful villagers. Later, Pečar was able to acquire two more Azawakhs, and it was these three Azawakhs who were the first of their breed to arrive in Yugoslavia from Africa. Some say they formed the foundation for the breed in Europe, though we came across an article written by Dr. Gabriele Meissen who writes that between 1972 and 1978, five Azawakh were either imported into France or used for breeding by returning civil servants from what was then French Colonial West Africa. You can read that article here.
The Azawakh reached the United States in the mid-1980s, and the first litter was whelped on Halloween in 1987 by Gisela Cook-Schmidt (Reckendahl). These all red or fawn with white markings pups were the first American-born Azawakhs, and it wasn’t until three years later that the first brindle-colored litter whelped in 1990 by Deb Kidwell.