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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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.

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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[UPDATE] Summer Vacation

Our bags are packed, and we’re off! Well, some of us are. By the time you read this, Penny, Zero and I will have snuck out in the morning darkness to hit the road east. (And not because we’re deadbeats.) In the infinite naivete of first-time parents, Emily and I decided to take a vacation to Vermont with our six-week-old. The dogs and I are the pack-mules, traveling over land, while Emily and Lincoln serve as our air(line) reinforcements. Eighteen hours of driving vs two hours of flying with a newborn. Pretty much a toss up.

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A Boy and a Dog. A Dog and a Boy.

The morning after Eko died, Emily told me she was pregnant.

I can only imagine what my reaction to the news might have been the day before, but at that moment I felt nothing.

I wanted to cheer, but I could find no joy within me. I wanted to cry, but I had shed all my tears for Eko. I loosed every valve in my heart, hoping to give the moment the love it deserved, but there was simply no lifeblood left to pump through it.

I was an empty man.

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[VIDEO] Zero’s First Dog Show

We had a week packed with Ridgeback reunions which culminated with Zero entered in his first ever dog show. I think he may have misheard it as “dog showoff” but either way we had a great time catching up with his littermates and learning the ropes.