R is for Rhodesian Ridgebacks


I may now own a miniature poodle, but my heart still belongs to the Rhodesian Ridgeback. I fell in love with the breed back in 1969 when I first saw them at a dog show in Santa Barbara, California. By 1970 my husband and I owned one, along with a rescue dog of mixed heritage, and a German Shepherd. If you want a funny sight, think of me, my husband, and these three dogs driving across country to Michigan in a VW van, pulling a small trailer with all of our worldly possession. No wonder some of my relatives still call me the California Hippy.

Brandy was our first Ridgeback, followed by several others. We raised three litters of pups, one litter giving us Baraka, a liver-nosed Ridgeback with a smile and a loving personality. I showed him in the ring several times until I realized my nervousness wasn’t helping him. Once we turned him over to a handler, he easily achieved his championship. He lived with us until he was almost eleven, surviving being hit by a truck, and amusing us by bringing a small herd of pigs onto our front lawn. He also liked to convince the paper lady to give him the paper to bring to us. Some times said paper didn’t make it all in one piece.

After Baraka crossed the rainbow bridge, we had two children to raise and different dogs crossed our paths.It wasn’t until the kids were off on their own that I once again had the urge to own a Ridgeback. And that’s when Zuri joined our home.

What a dog. He was oversized for a Ridgeback, but I didn’t care. I had no desire to show him. His size alone (31” at the shoulders and 150 pounds) scared a lot of people until they realized what a sweetie he was. He was a fast learner, sweet tempered, and affectionate. As most Rhodesian Ridgebacks are, he was somewhat aloof, at least until he got to know you. He could play rough or be gentle, depending what my husband or I asked of him. He lived with us for over 12 years, and has now been gone for a year and a half.

So why didn’t I get another Ridgeback when I decided I wanted a puppy again? Why a miniature poodle?

Size, primarily. We’ve downsized our homes. No longer do we have acres of land for a dog to roam. I have back problems, I can’t do all I used to do to train and keep Zuri exercised. It’s a lot easier to pick up a 10 pound dog than a 150 pounder. Easier to travel with a miniature poodle and find places that will welcome him.

Oh, but I miss my Zuri.

On the beach

On the beach

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3 Responses to R is for Rhodesian Ridgebacks

  1. Mia says:

    Zuri was an awesome boy. He had so much character!

  2. ann bennett says:

    One thing I have missed in this world and probably will never experience is training a dog for a dog show. I have owned dogs and cats my entire life. Most have been mixed breeds.
    The only pure breed I have now is a Pitbull. I got her as a puppy with a broken leg. I thought she was a black lab mix. She is a gentle loving creature but the reputation. People want to handle my chihuahua mixes and I stop them for good reason. But the pitbull, few will stop and pet her.
    I had two tiny boys about five come out of nowhere to pet her. She was so gentle. You should have seen the mom’s face. She had seen the dash. I would have stopped them but it was too late and the dog loves children.
    I can understand a smaller dog. They are much easier to manage. But I bet a 150 pound dog is a beast to be proud of. I have a preference for large dogs.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Ann, I’m beginning to adjust to having a small dog, but I’m with you, my preference is for large dogs. This poodle is way too quick, too stubborn, and too cute. He gets away with a lot because of that last part. It is nice in the evening to have him curl up on my lap and cuddle. My Ridgeback would have loved to do that, but the best we could manage was for him to rest his head on my lap. (His head was almost as big as this poodle is.)