Showsight July 2020


us important lessons like always get it in writing, stand up for yourself when it counts, and never be surprised by someone else’s hidden agendas. It’s the tough lessons and hard times that make us appreciate the good in our lives. What breeding philosophies do you adhere to? The Ridgeback that I am trying to breed is, first and foremost, a loyal fam- ily pet. They need to have the correct temperament. Do not confuse aloof with scared or unsure; a dog that takes its time to check out a stranger is just fine, but they should not be worried or insecure. Most of mine are usually pretty outgo- ing and think everyone is there to see them! Second, but almost tied with first, is structure. A dog that is put together right feels good, has a zest for life and is ready to do its job. I pay attention to bone and ratios more than I do actual weight and height, but those are a guide for a reason. A Ridgeback should be a fast and agile mover. For horse people, think of a cutting horse or a jumper; for the athletically minded, a ballerina and a distance runner or wrestler-type mus- cle. If the dog is too tall or too long the maneuverability is lost (most cattle dogs are smaller to be able to move out of the way of a flying foot); a dog too heavy in bone or mass loses endurance. Then you want to promote those instincts to hunt. They naturally use their noses right from the start to find Mom. We use touch, sound, textures and environment to stimulate pups from an early age. It goes to making a dog that is secure in itself and ready to take on any challenge: the show ring, a new family, a lure, or maybe a lion. How many dogs do you currently house? Tell us about your facilities and how the dogs are maintained. We have a six pack currently. I stay on as a co-owner on most of my pups so in case I am ever needed I can come to the rescue, but I try not to stick my nose in where it’s not needed. I have been blessed with some very special people in our lives due to the dogs. We have many who have had two or more puppies from us. Dick and Kathy Allbee have three and are very special, as is their latest girl, “Circe,” that is currently a top-ranked female at under 18 months of age! I do maintain breeding rights on some of the bitches so they come back to whelp, but are not here permanently. I also show pups that I have bred so some- times we have a dozen here. We do not have a kennel; we have a large, fenced-in backyard and each dog has a crate in the house. They run loose in the house when we are home and go where we go, pretty much. We live on a farm; the cattle are gone now so it’s all fields around us. The dogs go in their crates when we leave and I am fortunate that I can take a dog with me to work when I am not on the road. They all take turns and everyone in the office loves seeing them. We walk the lane to get the mail, they self-exercise in the yard and we will set up teaching moments like a rally ring to change things up. Who are some of your most significant Ridgebacks, both in the whelping box and in the show ring? Our top male is Zohan, MBIS BISS BVIS BISOH GCHP Courage Hilltop U Don’t Mess With Zohan Of Afrikka CGC ROM. Not only is he a great dog to live with and full of personality, but he is still a winner in the show ring at age nine. He went BOS at Royal Canin in 2019 with Mark Bettis and the year >

of breeding, so structure comes naturally to us. I have trained my eye to see through the outer coat and watch the muscle so you imagine how they work like a pulley system on the skeleton. If you pay attention it gives you clues as to what is wrong or where they hurt. Who were your mentors in the sport? Please elaborate on their influence. My mentor for showing and training has been Cindy Lane Smith. She has such an ease with dogs, it’s like second nature. She was the first person to make us feel like we were worth the work. Everyone else knew the dogs were good, but never really got us. This is more than a hobby to us; it’s preservation of the breed. These dogs are family and part of our daily lives, and we are a package deal. When Cindy met our Ridge- back “Zohan” for the first time she said it’s not if he will win a BIS, it’s when and how many. Then she told me what I needed to do to get him there and he did. We feel similarly about Mark and Tabatha Bettis. No doubt they have had many lovely wins, but they help me be a better handler myself. These three people have different personalities, but share some very similar val- ues. If you are lucky enough to be in the fold you will learn if you listen and earn their trust. It’s truly about your dog’s success and you are part of that equation. Just be ready to be honest with yourself because some- times you need a dose of humility and they can serve it… lovingly. When it comes to our mentors for breeding, we would say Marie Cotton (Spring Valley) and Chris- tina Wistrom (Of Afikka) are both so wise and know so much about the people part that it still makes my head spin! I know what I like, but these ladies have the years I do not and the connections I could only dream of. I feel honored to be able to call on them for ques- tions. They are also responsible for Zohan’s existence so I owe them so much. I hope they know how much that means to us and we hope we continue to do this breed justice by breeding to the standard and keeping its purpose in mind. I always say there are three P’s in breeding: Pedi- gree, Paperwork and People. With my support team and our own know how I have been pleased with the puppies we have produced thus far. I should also men- tion those who shall remain nameless who have taught


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