The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a highly versatile dog, and arguably the most versatile of all breeds. There is no end to the history of this remarkable canine being utilized as a hunter, worker, protector, and friend. Here is an interesting story pulled from Diamond Ridge website in the UK, depicting a Ridgeback working as naturally as breathing. Trailing is in the very nature of the Ridgeback, and today they are gaining recognition as search and rescue dogs, oftentimes outperforming bloodhounds on the trail.
One bright and sunny Saturday morning in May we received a telephone call from Marie Rose Crunden asking for help. She had some very sad news, she lad lost Flo, her seven month old puppy. Marie Rose had been contacted repeatedly by a woman whose elderly bitch had died asking if she had a puppy. The woman’s younger bitch was pining and she was desperate for another to keep her company, unfortunately nothing was available. Flo was bred by Marie Rose but a suitable home had not been found when she was younger. Marie Rose was reluctant to let Flo go as she had been with them for so long but eventually as Flo seemed rather taken with the woman it was agreed to let her go a months trial to see if she would settle.
Her new owner had collected Flo on the previous Wednesday and decided to stop at the Reading Services on the way home. They were sitting on the grass when Flo spooked, slipped her collar. She trotted around the car park looking for a familiar face, seeing none had run down the slip road and across the M4. She was hit by a car on the far carriageway, the driver stopped and reported that she had run through a gap in the crash barrier and into some trees.
Marie Rose had heard the news when she rang at midday the next day to see how Flo had settled. Unfortunately Flo’s new owner had been so distraut she had not rung Marie Rose immediately. A search party had been organised, but despite searching, putting up posters, telephoning Dog Wardens, knocking on doors Flo had not been seen since. She had now spent her third night on her own outside, the night before there had been a spectacular thunderstorm with sheet rain. By now, if she was alive, she was a very frightened, hungry and hurt puppy.
It was not a difficult decision to abandon our chores, put two of the dogs in the car and join Marie Rose’s daughters Charlotte and Gillian in the search. After meeting at the services husband Kelvin and Charlotte went to put up some more posters in the town and join us later.
The dogs and I climbed into Gillian’s car and drove to an abandoned farm where we parked to cross the field where Flo was last seen. Zeeta and her daughter 17 month old Flair were on long leads. I had worked Zeeta at two tracking training sessions but Flair had only been allowed to watch. We started our search along the fence where Flo was last seen. In the corner of the field there was a large lake heavily surrounded by undergrowth, we walked between this and the motorway fence. We were on our way back when Flair shot under some low hanging branches, Zeeta and I followed both dogs had obviously got the scent of something, sniffing the air and milling about. Flair was particularly interested in a small gap in the dense brambles and was trying to get through. I was reluctant to let her as I could hear something moving in the bushes, then a noise between a honk and a huff. I pulled Flair back in case it was an angry wild animal. Suddenly a ridgeback head appeared, it was so unexpected that at first I couldn’t believe what I had seen. It disappeared just as fast.
I called to Gillian but there was no sign but after much crawling through the brambles, on her hands and knees for what seemed hours but was probably minutes Gillian emerged triumphant with Flo.
It was of no surprise to hear that Flo is now staying permanently with the Crunden family, she was extremely lucky to escape with a graze over the eye, cracked tooth, a badly bruised body and an infected eye but made a full recovery.
As for Flair, it just proves that show dogs can have brains as well as beauty. I wonder whether she was just being nosey or if she had picked Flo’s scent from Gillian’s car. So if you have an inquisitive ridgeback that is always scenting and poking its nose in where its not wanted, perhaps you should think about training it. You never know when it might come in useful.