In my humble opinion, Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppies are the cutest puppies out there. Sorry Beagle lovers. La-la-la-la-la-la – I can’t ear you Lab fanciers. Move aside King Charles – no – the Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy not only has the market captured for being among the cutest of all pups in the world of canines, but Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies grow up to become the most magnificent, respected specimen in the whole of dogdom. But is a handsome look all this breed has to offer? Is a Ridgeback puppy only a pretty face that invariably dissapears into a mature dog that lives out its life without incident?
Photos, and videos and eyewitness accounts of this breed only tell a partial story of the attraction, the downright respect, that this dog holds for its admirers. Nevertheless, it’s one thing to be handsome beyond measure, yet it is quite another to be, in every aspect, truly the epitome of mans best friend. And in fact of the matter is, calling this regal breed “mans best friend”, might not exactly describe the Rhodesian Ridgeback in fairness, or in accuracy. After all, the claim of being ones “best friend” is really a subjective thing isn’t it? Is this regal specimen deserving of such accolades?
The Ridgeback had its debut as an official breed in 1922 in South Africa, by an obscure veterinarian who had the foresight and sufficient aquaintance with the breed to consider it important enough to protect its longevity in the annals of history.
In the harsh regions of Rhodesia, Euopeans were ever on the lookout for a dog to fulfill the needs of protector, hunter, and friend. It was here in this often deadly, mainly harsh land that the Rhodesian Ridgeback would surface to become known as the legendary “lion Hound”, a moniker that still attaches to the dog in the present day.
Life on the African Veldt was as difficult, and more frought with danger than any story one might hear about the American “old west” where the most dangerous vermin was, in all likelihood, man himself. But, as is often the case, the economic victor receives the glory and the spoils, but the opportunity to rewrite history too. Nevertheless, on occasion a mystery is uncovered that sends shivers up our spines, the kind that only come from admiration and appreciation. Such is the case with the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog.
“It was July 1954, in the Tuli Block, Bechuanaland, when “Oom Kaalkop” leaned back in his special canvas chair under a shady tree, he could vividly recall every one of the nine scenes in which his old favourite “Leeuw” had bayed lions for him. As the trail became hotter, “Leeuw” would become more cautious. Silently working his way from the leeward to ascertain the rue position, he would eventually come to a dead point, with raised paw, biding his time and giving his master ample time to come up and be ready. Calculating, cool, almost mischievously he would streak into the lair, nipping the lion into action; defiantly – and successfully – challenging it into the open to a battle of wits and endurance.
Eight times he had thus succeeded in pinning down his lion and had emerged unscathed, but he was getting on in years. The old gladiator had to depend more on experience than agility when he cornered his ninth lion on the banks of the Limpopo. An overhanging “wag-’n'bietjie” branch impeded his way as the lion struck and merciless claws pierced his chest, rupturing a lung. By the following morning, “Leeuw” was dead. His remains are buried where Mopani leaves rustle; where shy, nocturnal Bushbuck browse and the dawn is still greeted by the rolling echoes of the lion’s roar.
No tombstone there. I did not want to disturb the silence that followed Oom Kaalkop’s story, but had there been, by silent consent I felt the epitaph would have read “One of the noblest of his kind; unflinching companion and understanding friend.”
Capt. T.C. Hawley