PWN: Hunting large game does not require significantly larger than standard dogs that are often seen. DT: The Ridgeback is a handsome and athletic dog. The elegance of the head, with or without a mask, has an expression that makes one smile. It is hard to believe this dog can be so tough when it has such a soft look. 7. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? JA: In 2004, I entered my 8-month-old puppy in the RR World Congress shows down in Texas. At the second show the entry was 200 RRs so the judging had to be split due to the AKC limit of 175 per day. My puppy won his class under the alternate judge, so I took him outside for a walk (in the 100 degree Texas weather) only to come back in the building and hear my named being paged to go to the ring immediately! I had completely forgotten the regular judge was judging two fewer classes! Since there were two dogs he had to go over, the judge started going over my puppy. As he did, he sort of “judged aloud” as he made comments as he went over the dog. He asked how old the dog was and when I told him he said, “Shame, the dog is small.” (I’m thinking strike one was being late and here’s strike two!) As he went over the dog, he kept making positive comments. The part I’ll never forget is he was checking the tail for kinks and he was bent forward. He looked up at me and said, “This is a REALLY nice dog!” Yes, he was. He was awarded Winners Dog for his first five points! That “small” dog went on to become my winningest show dog but far more important, his offspring has excelled both in the ring and on the lure coursing field. LG: I judged the Ridgeback DZZR Specialty in Dortmun, Germany in June 2016 and had a large entry of over 100 with many puppies. When I asked one exhibitor to take her dog on the down and back, the puppy she was showing spotted me on the way back and when he got close he jumped up directly into the air from all fours and started licking me all over the face. It took me by sur- prise, but I loved it--we all couldn’t stop laughing. If we had not began in Afghans we definitely would have had a Ridgeback. The breeders overall have done a great job. PWN: There are funny things that happen at almost every show. One that comes to mind was at an outdoor show, I sent a huge male Mastiff special and owner across the ring on the diagonal. About five steps out, he stopped, dropped and rolled, upside down, all four legs kicking at the sky while he scratched his back in the grass. This lasted over 40 seconds while the owner tugged on the lead to get him righted to no avail. When he was good and ready, he stood, shook off and continued in stride to the applause of the crowd. DT: I remember an exhibitor whose dog had been excused for limping. She said she knew it couldn’t be limping because if had an OFA number… and so it goes!
“THE RIDGEBACK IS A HANDSOME AND ATHLETIC DOG.”
PWN: Like so many breeds, quality in the show ring is cycli- cal. With entries and the point scale lower than twenty years ago, the mean quality in the classes is lower, as even slightly better dogs finish quickly and move on, or up. The advent of the grand championship has created specials competition that is more like the open classes of the past and gives a truer picture of the state of the breed. Overall, I think quality there is comparable, and more dogs are shown in hard condition than in the past— a very good thing. DT: I do think the dogs are better. They are sounder in body and temperament. Movement has improved with many of them, having more reach and drive than before. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? JA: When I mentor new judges I always explain the breed attributes required to successfully track and bay lions. As it happens, those same traits also match the requirements of their other job of being the family farm dog. Judges need to understand why oversize and too heavy of a dog cannot function in the field. They don’t accelerate, stop or turn fast enough to avoid getting killed by the lion's paw. The bulk and weight impedes endurance (show me the last 6'5" 250-pound marathoner you’ve seen) plus they cost more to feed. Finally, the larger dog presents the most critical problem a hunter can have—increased target interference. Think about the situation where a pack of RRs are baying a lion. The hunter must be able to get a clean shot at the prey without killing or injuring the dog. Size and weight are the most misunderstood, yet the most critical of attributes in this breed. DT: The dogs are not generic. The ridge is important. The whorl and the ridge give the dog its character— remember this always. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? JA: Yes, this breed is intelligent beyond words. One of my past Ridgeback bitches once opened a glass jar that was brand new and loaded with dog biscuits. She did it in a kitchen that was all ceramic tile and left no marks whatsoever anywhere on the jar, lid or ring. To add insult to injury, she left one cookie in the jar! On a side note, thank you for the opportunity to express to the fancy not only what a Ridgeback should be, but also, why it should be that way.
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