What every future dog owner should know

You may or may not have noticed by now that I’m a teeny bit obsessed with my dog.

Reese

I mean, she’s pretty much the most beautiful, smartest dog I’ve ever seen ;)

Reese is a purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback that I acquired during my first year of vet school (shortly after I started dating my boyfriend). Her breeder is a veterinarian as well who graduated from my school just a few years ahead of me. She’s very serious about her breeding program, and breeds first and foremost for temperament. She always says that the most important quality in a dog is a good temperament, because you have to be able to live with your dog.

I did quite a bit of research into breeds and breeders before I settled on the ridgeback. I looked for a dog that would fit my lifestyle. I needed a dog that was low maintenance, not only in grooming but also in exercise requirements. I wanted a dog that would be energetic enough to go running with me while I’m marathon training, but also calm enough to hang out around the house when I get busy with school. I also prefer a dog with a coat that doesn’t require endless brushing and won’t shed everywhere, because I definitely do not have the budget to pay for routine grooming or a maid. I looked for a dog who would be able to handle the heat of our summers, and also a dog who would be calm and quiet around the house.

I searched for all of these qualities that were most important to me, and I came up with the Rhodesian Ridgeback. They’re energetic dogs, willing to go on very long runs (provided you build up their endurance appropriately!) and also willing to be complete couch potatoes. They are extremely loyal, and tend to be one-person or one-family dogs. They’re not barkers (for the most part) but will question intruders in the house. They have an extremely low maintenance coat, and they also handle heat very well, being from South Africa originally. When I went looking for a breeder and found a veterinarian from my school, living in my hometown, I thought it might be meant to be.

The first thing I did was go visit the breeder and the parents of my unborn pup (I highly recommend this).

Parents

These two dogs were super sweet and well behaved, and were exactly what I was looking for. I paid my deposit and waited eagerly for my puppy. On March 8, 2010, my little bundle of joy was born :)

Baby girl

Of course, at that point I didn’t know which wrinkly little pup she was. I received the photo updates weekly along with the rest of the prospective owners, and waited for the day that I could go pick my pup up. (She’s the one with the white mark on her chest.)

Week 5 pups

Week 5 pups

Week 8

I was so excited when I finally got to bring her home. I have never once regretted my decision to get her, and she is literally the best dog anyone in my family has ever owned. She gets special privileges at my parents and my boyfriend’s parents’ house :)

Reese

She’s my running buddy.

Running

And my snuggle buddy. (And study buddy.)

Puppy Snuggles

She puts up with a lot of practicing for school.

Bandage practice

And has successfully competed in the show ring.

First Show

First Show

She is my best friend and the best example of what good breeding, training and research can get you. I wish every dog owner could have the same experience I have had when they decide to get a dog. I’m not saying that Ridgebacks are the perfect breed, God knows they can be stubborn as hell sometimes, and she has definitely gotten her little butt in trouble.

Bad puppy

(So guilty).

But she has been the perfect dog for my lifestyle and for me.

At the park

So, after that lengthy explanation of why I love my dog (you’re welcome), here’s my exciting news.

We’re planning puppies!!! :D

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8 thoughts on “What every future dog owner should know

  1. I just came over as you replied on my new blog… I’m looking for another litter as I was just burned. I had my heart set on a German Shepherd as I’ve mostly had them and they are my heart dog. I now have my eye on a Doberman litter (female was just flown to Holland with the breeder and they came back last weekend — will find out if the breeding took around April 4th) I have been in contact with that breeder 14 months or so over this planned breeding.

    I have done a fair amount of research on the rhodesian ridgeback myself, and considered them in the past. Would you mind seeing one of your potential puppies in a low level working dog position? I don’t mind answering Q’s you might have. Can you keep me updated on your plans?

    • Can you tell me what exactly you mean by a “working dog”? I’m not sure I’m familiar.

      Unfortunately I think her puppies are probably already be spoken for, since there’s quite an extensive waiting list with her breeder back home. I can definitely put you in touch with her though if you’re seriously interested, not sure how many other litters she has planned.

      • Eek I just wrote out a reply and wordpress poofed it just before I could click reply.

        Working dog = Assistance/Service dog for the disabled.

        So few organizations train dogs for my disability (for adults) that I have been forced to hire a private trainer with experience in the field for my past three. I’m currently looking for my fourth, so when it’s trained my third can ease into retirement. It’s better than waiting 15+ years and a plane ride for a program dog only to end up with a breed you aren’t happy with. Labs (horrible experience with 63 of them) and my current golden brings on far too much attention from the public. Great dog, just way too popular, which is counter-productive to my disability.

        I love GSDs, but also like Dobermans and have looked at your breed too. I’m curious to know if it might be the same breeder I contacted eight years ago.

        So long ramble short. lol. Sorry. Yes, please. I’d love to talk with your breeder and see if she would be happy adding my family to her list.

      • To be honest I’m not sure they would make great service dogs. They’re not outstandingly obedient, and as sight hounds their natural instinct is to chase small things moving quickly. My girl is very well behaved and she still chases squirrels and birds even when directed otherwise. I’m not saying they can’t be taught to be a service dog, I just think your efforts would be better spent with a different breed.

        If you’re still interested please send me your email address. I’m trying to keep my blog mostly anonymous :)

      • Same here on privacy. It’s okay, I already sent an email to the RR breeder I was in contact with before – only couple hours away, so I could visit litters. Will see what happens if the doberman breeding didn’t take. Thanks!

  2. What a beautiful dog- While I would never purchase a dog from a breeder, I totally get purebreds for breed preservation/showing and im glad you found a reputable well respected breeder for your pretty pup- I try to promote adoption- I have a 2 year old Lab/Coonhound mix who is an amazing dog/running companion/friend. She ran 10 miles with me yesterday like it was nothing! so not fair. I would love a ridgeback in the future if I stumble on one thats up for adoption and needs a home!

    Love your blog BTW, I am also a horse person, We have a few thoroughbreds and a warmblood we compete with in the show jumping ring.

    Cant wait to keep following your blog!
    Katie
    www,runningaragnar.blogspot.com

    • Thank you so much!

      As a vet student I totally support adopting animals, and both of my cats were rescues. Reese is my first personal dog and I wanted to know exactly what I was getting when I got my puppy. This initial interest has evolved into a love for the breed and a desire to see it perpetuated and improved. I think a lot of people see ridgebacks as a hyper, temperamental breed, and I hope to be able to change that opinion.

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