2018 Rhodesian Ridgeback Review

I’m turning in my 2018 homework a bit late because…my dog ate it? Hm, no, the dogs were the homework, so that doesn’t work. I’m a bit out of practice with excuses, but either way, thanks for joining us at all the stops along the way in 2018!


The Most Wonderful Time

One Christmas Eve my father told us a story. Gathered on my brother’s bed, he whispered conspiratorially of stamping hooves and shaken bells he once heard on the roof as a child. Awed, we asked the questions children ask. Did he run outside? Did he see them? Did he see him??

“I heard the reindeer leap off the roof, and that was enough,” he said.

He kissed us each goodnight and left us to wonder. Was the story true? We quietly mused on the matter, shushing each other to listen at any perceived creak above our heads. Would this be the night we answered the question of whether the magic was real?

I listened vigilantly, so still and quiet that I lulled myself to sleep.

I don’t remember much about the presents I received the next morning, but I’ll never forget the feeling of wonder my fathered gifted us that evening. It’s a feeling I’ve always associated with the reindeer bell from my childhood copy of The Polar Express.

Like the bell, my father’s gift was one which tends to dull with age. To keep a shining sense of awe we must be willing to let go of the certainties of our experiences in order to embrace the wanderings of our imaginations.

Fortunately, I have a couple magical creatures of my own to help with the task. The excited jingling of their dog collars each morning are like reindeer bells reminding me to shrug off my worries and come fly with them. And fly they do! Over fences and over each other, trailing a touch of wonder with each leap.

Watching them fly this past week, in his red suit and hat, was Lincoln. He’s still too young to care about Santa or reindeer, but there is no age too young for wonder. And Lincoln, like all children, is wonder incarnate.

“Wow!” Link exclaimed when the dogs first soared above the sand. “Wow!” he yelled the second time. And the fifth, and the fifteenth. Each shout as enthusiastic and earnest as the first. I laughed at his relentless cheers, but they were infectious.

My first few attempts to join him were timid imitations, dampened by that pernicious impulse adults have to be above child-like feelings. But true wonder requires vulnerability. It is an admission of feelings and thoughts beyond our limited ability to articulate and understand them. To wonder means to lift our hearts and minds from their safe confines and offer them up to freely float amongst the stars.

With Link’s help and the dogs’ encouragement, I finally got the hang of it. Yelling “Wow!” with him and really meaning it. Laughing and marveling at the impossible magic of the universe converging in a moment which allowed me to be in this place, with this boy, these dogs, and so much love.

And if that impossible moment could happen, who am I to say what other impossibilities could not? That a team of flying reindeer might carry a sleigh across the sky seems no more preposterous than my luck to shout “Wow!” with my child at our dogs until we are both hoarse.

Eventually, the questions will come. Lincoln will ask about Santa and magic and impossible things. I used to worry about how to answer him. Or worse, what to say when he started googling the answers himself. But a couple of flying dogs helped remind me that so often in life, answers are not enough.

So I will tell him the truth. That on a cold winter morning I once held him in my arms at the beach, closed my eyes, and I could not be certain if the bells I heard above were from the dogs or reindeer. And at that moment I heard a boy shout “Wow!” and was certain something wonderfully impossible had happened.

As to what that all means? I’ll give Lincoln a kiss and leave him to wonder.

Merry Christmas!

Thankful My Rhodesian Ridgebacks Have Each Other

I often talk about how thankful I am to have my dogs, but I’m also grateful they have each other. With Zero turning two this weekend, I took a look back at how he’s helped Penny rediscover herself. It means the world to me that these two have grown so close and are always happiest together. Happy Thanksgiving and happy birthday Zero!

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Parenting Model

Do I have any idea how to raise a child? No. But do I dedicate myself to reading parenting books and trying to learn? Also no. Thus far my fall back plan has been taking care of Lincoln by taking care of the dogs. It may lead him to a predilection for eating out of a dog bowl, but nonetheless I’m pretty happy with the results!

Borrowing Courage From Our Dogs

Our fears are our own. No one can take them from us, so we must find a way to face them. Thankfully, our dogs are willing to lend us their courage when we find our own lacking. I’m grateful Lincoln already finds inspiration in Penny and Zero.

A Year After A Year After

As a child, I remember my parents crying. A quiet tear from my mother as we drove past our old home. A short breath and watery eyes from my father while sitting together on the edge of my grandmother’s pool.

I could not understand why these seemingly innocuous moments overwhelmed them. When I asked what was wrong the answer was always, “Nothing,” said with a wry smile. If pressed, they might share a hint of a stirred memory, but no more. Then they’d wipe their eyes and quickly return to the present moment.

Life is inextricably lived in one direction – forward. But it can be understood through an infinite number of vectors, intersecting at angles and times known and unknown. I now recognize that in those moments with my parents I witnessed a juncture of self-discovery through some revelatory vector. A moment they had once lived, experienced again with new perspective.

This past Saturday was a juncture in my own life. One I pass for the second time living forward, but a crossroads well-worn in my heart. September 29th marks two years since Eko died.

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When Should You Spay or Neuter a Rhodesian Ridgeback?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Marking Our Territory

Showing a profound lack of judgment by the people at Google, my site often ends up at the top of search results for questions about Rhodesian Ridgebacks. My qualifications for such prestigious placement are that I have Rhodesian Ridgebacks, I have a camera, and I have a very loose understanding of how to control both of those things.

That said, I’m always happy to share whatever knowledge I’ve picked up along the way. I can’t offer the expertise of a veterinarian or behaviorist, so I simply try to share the perspective of what an average owner might experience.

Recently, inquiries about the timing of a Ridgeback’s spay/neuter are increasingly common. It’s a question with pitfalls and nuance and a lot of strong opinions. I’ve heard people say veterinarians only recommend spay/neuter because it makes them money, and I’ve heard people say anyone who doesn’t spay/neuter their dog is an irresponsible jerk. Neither of these sentiments is particularly helpful (or true), and the conflicting opinions leave a lot of us feeling uncertain and ill prepared to make the best decision for our own dogs.

Rather than attempt to make that decision for you, I hope this post offers some dispassionate context for how to best consider your options.
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[VIDEO] Rhodesian Ridgeback Lion Hunting Training

First, we’d like to humbly accept the adulation we’ve received for keeping Chicago safe from lions all these years. It’s not glamorous work, but if it means the people of this city can finally sleep without fear of a lion invasion, it’s worth the effort. Many of you may get Monday off, but I can assure you Penny and Zero will be hard at work!

The Things Worth Leaving Behind

marking our territory, rhodesian ridgeback, eko

It used to be easy to pack my car. When it was just Eko and me, even when we lived on the road for a year, the trunk was never full and the cabin was always spacious. I could afford to be thoughtless about the bags I carried because I was never forced to leave anything behind.

A marriage, a child, and two dogs later – the question is no longer can we fit everything, but can we even fit everyone? With each subsequent road trip, solving the puzzle of how to squeeze the sum of my life into a single vehicle grows ever more challenging.

Looking back on our summer of travel there was a simple answer. Leave Penny and Zero behind. Place them in the safe hands of family or trusted boarder and go on the journey without them. Vacations would be so much easier and less time-consuming. All it would cost is a week away from the dogs.

And is bringing the dogs really worth leaving most of my own bags? Is it worth the discomfort of a fifteen hour drive each way? Is it worth limiting where we can go and where we’re welcome to stay?

Despite the increasing complexities of life, the answer to each question remains an unequivocal “Yes.”

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[VIDEO] Rhodesian Ridgeback Vermont Vacation 2018

Our third annual pilgrimage to Vermont was well worth the fifteen hour ride each way. I was certain the trip to the farm would be mindblowing for Lincoln, but I guess the phrase “raised in a barn” might apply to my city boy more than I ever thought!