The Dog Who Means Nothing to Me

Last Thanksgiving my family gathered in Chicago and we lifted our glasses to the memory of Eko – the dog who meant everything to me. That same evening, at the top of a winding dirt driveway in Michigan, a dog who meant nothing to me was born.

For five transformative years I spent nearly every moment with Eko. He shepherded me through one of the most uncertain and tumultuous times of my life. I hammered and tempered and reforged my soul under the guidance of my puppy.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without Eko. More importantly, I wouldn’t be who I am. So without Eko, I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. I lost my compass when I lost Eko, but this aching emptiness will be my guide, I wrote.

After years of speaking with a full heart I had to learn to listen with an empty one. I spent each day trying to replace what I lost, but when I lay my head down to sleep and tapped my heart it still rang hollow.

Those empty reverberations led me up a dirt driveway in Michigan one wintry January afternoon. I didn’t want to be there but I had nowhere else left to go. I needed help to find my way again.

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Why I Purchased My Rhodesian Ridgebacks From A Responsible Breeder

On the day I picked up each one of my dogs I handed over a check for nearly two thousand dollars. That is a lot of money.

My decision to pay a large sum for a puppy is a contentious one amongst dog lovers. For many, a line has been drawn and anyone who does not acquire their dog from a shelter or rescue is the on the wrong side.

But I don’t see my decision to purchase my dogs from an ethical breeder as oppositional to rescue efforts, I see it as complementary to them. I think it’s worth explaining why.
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[VIDEO] My Big Ballerina

I know I’ve been scarce around these parts lately, but it’s certainly not for a lack of action! With Lincoln strapped to my chest and a dog in each hand it’s been easier for me to post daily updates over on instagram. But I have plenty of longer form essays/videos I’m working on to post here.

In the meantime, for those of you who don’t use the service, below is a short video I posted on instagram today.  Zero may be built like a linebacker but he’s doing a wonderful job pirouetting around Lincoln like a ballerina. It’s not easy for an adolescent pup to show restraint so I’m proud of how our training is coming along.

People often ask if I'm worried about having big dogs around a little kid. Thanks to lots of positive reinforcement, I have no concern my dogs will ever intentionally hurt Lincoln. But as Lincoln grows there's definitely a risk the pups might accidentally knock him over, so we're teaching them to tread gently around their little bro. Restraint is not a Ridgeback forte, so I'm especially proud of Zero learning to be dainty with Lincoln in all respects. As always, it's a work in progress, but a supremely rewarding one! ____________________________ #rhodesianridgeback #projectrr #ridgebacksofinstagram #dog #dogs #hound #dogsofinstagram #dogoftheday #primepet #chicago #dogbeach #bestwoof #houndandlife #akc

A post shared by Rhodesian Ridgebacks (@markingourterritory) on

 

Happy Friday, catch up with everyone soon!

[VIDEO] There is Always Room For Love

Today marks one year since I lost Eko. Since I lost my heart. In that year I suffered, stumbled and failed. But I also persevered, learned and rebuilt myself. I wear my scars proudly and eagerly share the love and knowledge they’ve earned me. Anything else wouldn’t do justice to my puppy.

The Dog I Loved Least

I never saw Eko die. I never saw him grow old and gray. I saw him bounding joyfully towards me across the beach one day and then I never saw him again.

So even though tomorrow marks a year since he’s been gone, a part of me still looks for Eko. My dogs and my newborn son have unknowingly been recruited to the search party. Lincoln’s fussing wakes us in the early morning darkness and I load the rescue team into the car.

Penny and Zero race into the pre-dawn haze blanketing the beach. If he’s out there, they’ll find him. Lincoln rests snugly on my chest and we walk quietly along the water. I watch my dogs who are here and wait for the one who is not.

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[VIDEO] From Wild to Mild

I love watching Penny and Zero cut loose at the beach or wrestle across our carpet, but with a new baby in town I’ve needed my guys to learn how to slow down around Lincoln. Luckily they’ve proven themselves to be excellent and doting big siblings.

Lessons From a Hellhound to a Father

Mr. Eko, my first dog, was affable, adventurous and even tempered. I felt quite proud (some might say smug) of the well-mannered pup I raised and trained. I’d look at Eko and marvel at how my puppy grew into the dog I decided he would be.

Because I once believed my dogs were only shaped by my decisions. I was certain their personalities were simply the sum of my choices. Then I met Penny. Read more ›

[VIDEO] Vermont Vacation

Sure, it might have been easier to go on vacation without my dogs, but it would have been a whole lot less fun!

Running with Ghosts

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Just as I remember them.

I spent yesterday driving and I owe tomorrow to the road. But before I pay that debt I have these precious moments alone.

Penny and Zero are with me, but I have always considered my dogs a part of myself. The nameless part I can never share with another person. Not because I lack the will, but because in any attempt to translate it – through word or deed – its truth is lost.

So I silently share this truth with my dogs as we stand in the rain and look down the path leading into the trees. I am here in search of ghosts, but not the Revolutionary War specters many say walk these woods. I am here to commune with a boy and his puppy.

I gather myself, dogs and all, and run into the darkness.

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[VIDEO] The Greatest Miscarriage of Justice in the History of Dog Shows

I hope the AKC has a good lawyer. We’re ready to take our case all the way to the Supreme Court if need be.