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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!

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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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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!

[VIDEO] Rhodesian Ridgeback Vacation Adventure

We enjoy romps in Lake Michigan so much in Chicago, we figured we should check in on all the waves Penny and Zero send crashing into the Michigan shore on the other side. Turns out those waves are doing just fine! So the pups decided to send them on back across to meet us home.

A Fire Tended By Dogs

One year ago I held Lincoln in my arms for the first time. An ember cast forward from the bonfire of life into the tinderbox of my arms.

He was such a precarious light. His flickering breath barely perceptible against my chest. Just past the corners of my vision I felt the encroaching fear some menace in the infinite darkness of things I could not see would  extinguish this spark.

The temptation was to turn towards the darkness. To claw at it. Build a wall against it. Stand between it and my tiny light. But thankfully my dogs have taught me such attempts are futile. Read more ›

Learning To Walk

With the uncertain, bow-legged steps of a drunk cowboy, Lincoln teetered across the grass towards me. I waited with open-arms under a tree, my heart wavering in rhythm with each one of his steps. I willed him to make it the final few feet into my arms, but he fell short.

Link didn’t seem to mind. He laughed and rolled the last yard to where I sat. He rose with a triumphant smile, covered in sticks. The dogs gave him a victor’s welcome, complete with a massive kiss from Zero.

Who am I to say this joyful boy fell short?

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[VIDEO] Sunrise at Chicago’s Montrose Dog Beach

There’s no snooze button on my new alarm clock so we’re always up before the sun these days. I used to dread early morning wakeups, but starting the day with Link and pups at the beach for sunrise has helped me find new perspective.

The Unreasonable Dog

Rhodesian Ridgeback, Lion, Marking Our Territory

How far can light travel in four years? The answer could be represented as a very long number. Simplified, the answer is four light-years. Most simply, I like to think of the answer as “Penny.”

Today Miss Penny Mayhem turns four (Earth) years old. The tendency with birthdays is to remark how fast time flies, but it seems Penny flies at relativistic speeds because no one in my family believes she’s only been with us for four trips around the sun.

Emily thought Penny must be six. My brother was certain the little wild thing (Penny, not Emily) was even older. I started to question my own sanity so we had to go back and double check the math. Despite the evidence I’m still not sure my brother is convinced. I’m only marginally more confident.

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