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The Collapse of the Soviet Economy and the Borzoi Puppy from Russia

By Bonnie Dalzell (c) 1995

This article may be reproduced as needed provided text is unaltered and Bonnie Dalzell receives a copy of the resulting publication.

This article was originially written in 1991. I have made minor
changes to update it.

There is a serious socio-economic problem that involves our breed of
dogs, the Borzoi. This problem has both humanitarian and humane
aspects and should not be casually dismissed out of hand. Here it is
in a nut shell.

Russian citizens who are leaving the USSR, either permanently or
temporarily, can only take a limited amount of hard (that is
non-Russian) currency with them. In 1991 this was only $300. They
could not take any Russian money (Rubles) out with them. In addition
many of the material goods that we might think of as a reasonable
investment to be converted into cash, such as high quality consumer
electronics are not available to them. Furs, art objects, Baltic
amber, antiques and other jewelry are also hard to come by and/or
illegel to bring out.

Can you imagine immigrating to another country and only being able
to bring $300 with you to start your new life!!

There is something uniquely Russian that is not covered by the
various rules and this is the unique Russian dog, the Borzoi. In
addition (due to a general lack of understanding of North American
culture) the average Russian who hits upon the 'Borzoi investment
plan' has been told that the Borzoi is a rare breed in North
America. The Russian concludes that since Borzoi are rare they would
be especially valuable (that is a puppy is worth several thousands
of dollars). This is, as you know, not the case. Borzoi are not
common but there are probably 12,000 of them in the US right which
is probably 1000 times as many as are in the USSR. In the dog
selling business the best prices are for fashionable breeds, that is
breeds that are scarce but have just caught the public's
imagination, such as the Shar Pei a few years ago or the Neopolitian
Mastiff today. Funny, long legged dogs with long skinny noses that
shed are not currently among the items that the North American
public is rabid to purchase.

Keep these facts in mind if you are approached by a Russian immigrant
with a puppy to sell. Many of you may be sitting there looking at
several unsold pups of your own and will not be inclined to buy the
Russian Borzoi pup which will look sort of skinny and runty anyway,
if it just got off the plane. On the other hand you might be
interested in the Russian pup but you have no idea how to interpret
the pups "papers", if it has any, and are at a loss as to what to do.

At this time (1995) the AKC will allow a Russian Borzoi with correct
papers to be fully registered provided that an AKC conformation judge
will certify that the dog is of sufficient quality to receive at least
one point at an AKC conformation show. Previously (1992) the AKC was
allowing Borzoi from the Soviet Union to be enrolled, for purposes of
breeding only, with the AKC. These enrolled dogs are not eligible for
show, obedience or AKC lure coursing, the do not have a registration
number. Of course, if the dog is neutered you can get an ILP number on
it and show it in obedience and in AKC lure coursing. ASFA will allow
the dogs to be lurec coursed on their Russian number and NOTRA, the
oval track racing organization, will allow them to be raced on their
Russian number.

The Canadian kennel club is considering allowing the full
registration of Russian Borzoi and was supposed to have issued their
ruling as of March or April of 1991. I do not know the result of
this ruling as of 6-95.

The purpose of this article is to aquaint you with the Russian system
of papers and to offer my aid should you decide that you want to
purchase one of these immigrant imported pups. I do not wish to
become embroiled in an arguement as to wether the Borzoi are of good
quality. That is for you to judge with each pup you encounter.
Certainly some of us would like to simply have "a puppy from
Russia". In my personal opinion the quality of the Russian dogs I
have seen has varied from excellent to pet, just like anyone else's

First let me mention that the cost of going on a week's tour of
Moscow, say, is not unreasonbable. A couple of thousand dollars can
get you a trip with a hotel in an Intourist Tour. Should you go in
May or June, when the puppies are available, you might be able to
get a pup for 1000 rubles or less. Currently the official conversion
rate is 6 rubles to the dollar so a 1000 ruble puppy is under $200.
Your chances of getting a good price on a pup are enormously
increased if you have a close friend who is a Russian citizen who can
negiotate the purchase. The prices on the pups tend to vary with the
nationality of the buyer. This however should give you a base line
to operate from.

Although Russia is a modern, technological country the
general availability of technology can be poor so many activities are
not handled as we handle them here. It is hard even to locate a
typewriter, much less a photo copy machine or a computer so the
keeping of dog records, never a high priority with the sane segment of
the population, is not automated. In addition the initial phases of
the registration process are not centralized. This represents a big
stumbling block when it comes to having our very own American Kennel
Club accept a Soviet pedigree. Due to the very high level of accuracy
in record keeping that the AKC maintains internally it also expects
the same level of perfection in detail in import pedigrees. I am sure
you all have experienced the accuracy of the AKC's registration
department and you must have marveled at the perfection of correct
detail in the official "Certified Pedigrees" that you have purchased
from them. This of course being the result ceaseless activities of a
knowledgable and dedicated bureaucracy . Against this we have the
average official Soviet pedigree document - which consists of both the
registration and the pedigree on one form. It was probably hand
written, even though it has official stamps, and then there is this
problem with the numbers....

A pure bred dog in the Russian receives one number when it is
issued it's "Puppy pedigree". After it is 10 months old it is
examined by a judge and if it is rated as "good" or better it
obtains a number issued by the kennel club in its city of residence.
Usually this number looks like this: M -69 (M for Moscow), L-71 (L
for Leningad) etc although I have seen numbers like 1/100 - Iv
(which is supposed to be for Ivanova).

The Russian Borzoi participates in both hunting and showing
activities and recieves certificates in hunting and conformation.
When it has accumulated these certificates and has produced quality
offspring the owner may then apply for a sort of "all Russian" number
which these days is a 4 digit number followed by /bp, thus 1534/bp.
Until this number is granted the dog is referred to in pedigrees and
show catalogues as "Dogname ownername" - for example Bystry
Maxidrova. After the all Russian number is issued it will be referred
to as Bystry 1124/bp.

Part of the confusion that arises with Russian Borzoi pedigrees is
that there are a limited number of names that are given to the dogs
and these names are used a lot and there are no kennel names. If the
dog changes hands, then the owner's name changes. In older pedigree
I have seen instances where the dog has changed hands and they have
changed its name as well as the owner's name. It is enough to cause
a major case of mental anguish to anyone who is used to working with
records from a computer based system.

If you are hoping to enroll a Borzoi with the AKC the import
pedigree must have certain things on it that are not normally
included on a Russian puppy pedigree. First a disclaimer: Just
because all of these things are correct does not guarentee that the
pedigree will be acceptable to the AKC's foreign registration
office. There are other variables to be considered which are beyond
the understanding of this mere mortal.

First it is best if the pedigree is typed.

Then it must name you as the importer of the dog and have your
American address on the pedigree.

In addition the date that the dog was shipped to the USA must be on
the form. In addition there is a complete description of the dog,
its color, sex age, puppy number and all of the information that
accompanies a standard pedigree.

As to the form of the pedigree. All dogs must have registration
numbers. At this time it is easiest if all of the dogs in the
pedigree have the "All Russian" type numbers and if they are in
ascending order of magnitude towards the descendents. In Russia it
is possible for a dog to earn its all Russian number after its
offspring does. This would leave you with a parent having a larger
number than the offspring. This is very irregular in convential
pedigree circles such as we enjoy in the United States. Be warned.

I am including some examples of the current  "official" type Russian
pedigree form with this article if space permits. If you need a set
of examples send me a stamped self addressed envelope and I will
send you some examples.

Good luck!

Bonnie Dalzell


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