I first met Gem at Royal Canin in December 2019. She was sweet and charming and, as I had been told to expect, very friendly. She clearly adores her breeder and owner, Norma Spivey more than anything. I was struck by how much she looked and acted like her half-sister Amidi.
I next met Gem in fall of 2020 when I visited Tennessee. She was much the same- happy, friendly, trying to steal food.
A year later, I got a call from Vicki Harrison Williams, a good friend of Norma's who helped socialize her litters, asking if I would take Gem. She's a lovely girl who needed to stay in the gene pool. Norma wasn't going to be whelping and raising anymore litters, so it was an ideal situation.
In surprisingly short order we arranged transportation. As luck had it, Gem arrived literally an hour after we got home with Ami's emergency c-section for Birdie. Unsurprisingly, she took the whole affair in stride. She hung out with the boys h that were in the house (many of my dogs were staying with friends). She required very little management but was happy to receive petting.
The weekend after that she attended Thanksgiving dinner with me and then on Saturday did her first practice runs at LGRA straight racing. The first one she was so excited my the snacks, my friend was carrying she didn't even leave the line at first. This was very typical of Gem. Yay food. Yay people.
From the very very start she fit in perfectly with all of my dogs. She came with us on our beach trip a month later and did fantastic staying with the pack and a few months later when Anubi had his lure coursing accident, she took over as my primary demo dog for by job.
I cannot stress enough the great job that Vicki and Norma did with her. She's completely bomb proof. I got to introduce her to racing and lure coursing. We did trick training and canine good citizen and fit dog titles. We hiked, we traveled. I handed her off to probably a dozen different people in the show ring, and she never bat an eye.
In the space is nine months she earned eight titles, including both her AKC and UKC Championships. She was the first dog I ever finished in AKC.
She had her litter October 2022 and whelped six puppies easily in under two hours. She was a phenomenal mother and still enjoys seeing her adult puppies. Watching her play with them is something that gives me a ton of joy.
She passed so many traits to her puppies that are the best of her. Her joy for life, her curiosity, her angulation, and proportions. Anubi mitigated the dramatic friendliness really nicely and the whole litter has been outgoing but with a more breed typical sense of skepticism of strangers. Of Gem's puppies- one finished his AKC Championship at ten months and earned two Grand majors and champion defeats his first day out. One other has both his majors, two have one major. Two puppies have both Owner-Handled and regular Group placements. Four of the puppies are ranked, alongside their parents, in at least one ranking system. All have been started on the lure and have been keen and clean. A couple are ready to certify in running events when they're old enough. Most have been started in foundations for other sports as well. I'm incredibly proud of what Gem and Anu have produced.
Perhaps my favorite Gem experience was that we were hiking December 2022 before our annual trip for New Years. We realized Amalu's ecollar had fallen off. Before coming to me, Gem trained to find birth lost people and lost dogs. So we gave her a shot at finding the collar. She was able to track it over the course of three miles and was absolutely thrilled with herself when we found it.
Everyone whose ever met Gem loves her. Most people who have met me know how much I value you the guarding instinct and skepticism of strangers of Azawakh. Gem has never displayed even a moment of that. One time, I was out of town and Whitman was watching the dogs and having a hard time of it. So a friend offered to take her while I was gone. My husband took her to work with him and my friends husband, who didn't know her, picked her up from the car with zero issues with the handoff.
When we walk through show grounds, Gem nose boops everything. She requires more management to stay in her own lane because she wants to say hi than any of my other Azawakh do even when people and dogs try to get in their face. It's who she is and why everyone loves her. It's also one of the reasons she came to me rather than someone else, because it would be very easy to use her to misrepresent the breed's temperament and Norma and Vicki trusted that I would be honest that her temperament was atypical of the breed.
That atypical nature is much of the reason that when I called Norma to tell her about Gem's new puppies and she expressed that she would always be a retirement home for Gem, I knew instantly that was the right choice for everyone. Gem in an incredible dog, I'm very grateful for the chance to include her in my program, the trust given to me in regard to her, and I'm in awe of what she has produced. But her true home is with Norma.
Gem turned six yesterday, August 22. She was with me almost two years and we had so many adventures together. She heads home September 3rd and I'm looking forward to hearing reports of her being reunited with her favorite human.