2016 AKC Breeder of the Year: Establishing a Bitch Line…the Dream and the Realization
My earliest awareness of the Rhodesian Ridgeback was the handsome fellow on the American Kennel Club’s chart: “The Pure Bred Dog” circa 1960-something that hung in the waiting room of our family vet’s clinic. I imagine a copy graced many veterinarian’s offices in those days. I was familiar with several of the dogs pictured and memorized each of the breeds that I did not know. It was the the impressive red dog with the striking head, black mask, dark round eyes, deep chest and imposing presence that my eye kept coming back to. He seemed similar to the Bird Dogs and Fox Hounds who my family raised and who I loved, but there was something more majestic about him. Years later when I read the “Standard” of The Rhodesian Ridgeback, I knew immediately what the founders of this breed described as “Upstanding”. The Red Hound who first captured my attention was exactly that.
The first Ridgebacks who I was able to get to know in the flesh belonged to a friend and his girlfriend who lived in New York. I was fascinated to witness how well these big hounds acclimated to city life. They spent their days lounging in two wing chairs and roaming their private roof-top garden. This was not something the hunting dogs I grew up with would have enjoyed. That sent me into research mode as I wanted a dog that would be happy being at my side coming and going to my art studio. Like so many first time Ridgeback owners, my first one came to me as a rescue. “Hollywood” joined me in 1985 at age two and over the next eleven years became the symbol in our family for the quintessential companion. We all suffered her passing and it took me a very lonely year to find her equal. Since then I have made sure to never live another day without Ridgebacks.
The back story is that I was meant to live my life among dogs. My father’s family had been breeding, raising, exhibiting and judging “Bird Dogs” (American Pointers and English Setters) in Tennessee since the mid 1800’s. My mother’s family in Virginia were equally avid dog lovers and hunters. One of the most common subjects at our family table was always “the dogs”. In my twenties I bred and hunted Penn-MaryDel Foxhounds. Penn-MaryDels are Colonial Hounds that were developed in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware and who are still closely held and raised by Fox Hunting Clubs in New England, Virginia and Kentucky. I was fortunate to be mentored by several legendary Huntmasters who helped me set up my line.
My life as an artist took me away from the farm and the fields, away from the horses and the hounds and into the city. Over the next twenty odd years with companion Ridgebacks at my side, I dreamed of one day starting a breeding program. So I read literature on the breed, I watched and studied the breeding practices and followed the development of several lines that I liked in America, Canada, Germany, Norway and Australia. I saw important sires and notable dams…but I was trained to keep my eyes on the dams and their pups and on their puppies’ puppies. I was taught to judiciously consider line breeding for type and to search diligently for outcrosses that would add hybrid vigor. I was coached that the depth of a breeding program was often determined by the breath of its base. I learned the importance of the dam’s relationship to her brood. I watched pups succeed in the field and was able to relate their confidence to the nurturing and training they received from their dams and from us, their stewards.
Finally, when my life allowed me the time to devote to what I knew would be an all-consuming endeavor, I began the search in earnest for the bitches I hoped would be worthy of being the foundation of a kennel line. The explosion of information on Ridgebacks worldwide through the internet made my research far easier than it once had been. In 2009-2011, I selected three bitches from kennels who I admired and whose lines boasted multiple Register of Merit Dams. Many of the dams and their pedigrees, I had been following for years. I spent the next five years proving our girls in the conformation ring and on the field. All three girls moved easily through their Championships, each one taking Best Of Breed wins from the classes and finishing over specials. We finished their Grand Championships and lightly campaigned them to get to know how they would handle the Group Ring and to gain feedback from our Ridgeback community.
Meanwhile, my love of the field and my desire to build hounds who could still perform many of the functions they were originally bred for, kept us in the field training. All three girls are trained Tracking Dogs and have executed the search and recovery of multiple lost dogs. Naiomi, GCHB Kengali’s Naiomi Of The Highland Rim TD CGC JC CA is exceptionally brilliant and a natural tracker. She received her AKC Tracking Title on the first attempt. Selena, BIF GCHB DC Highland Rim’s Eilidh By Kengali SC is a classic Sight Hound who lives and breathes to chase game. She achieved her AKC Field Championship Title in record time and was undefeated to her first Best In Field. Salome, GCH Bakari’s Salome Of The Highland Rim JC CGC CA, who has Norwegian and Australian ancestors, expresses more of the Mastiff side of the Ridgeback, is and exceptional Service Dog and the ultimate companion.
The next part of the equation was to locate and select sires who would complement and enhance the attributes of our foundation bitches. I was also taught not to simply “pick parts” but to “picture the whole dog” and to look for matches that would strengthen weaknesses without losing the essential and best elements that the bitch already possesses…a tall order where genetics are involved. Enter my husband, Dr. Albert Reynolds, a Cancer Cell Biologist and Geneticist who is a great sounding board and who will remain invaluable as we move into producing our next generations. As always, the most important charge was to find sires who, like our dams, met the highest standard in health clearances. The search was arduous and exciting to say the least. We were fortunate to find like-minded breeders and we made wonderful friends along the way. We are honored to have made matches for our dams with six outstanding sires whose genes are rewarding us with amazing results and far sooner that we could have imagined.
2016…A Year To Remember…11 New Champions:
Fats Domino: (Skipper and Naiomi), CH Highland Rim The Inevitable Thrill, CH Westwood Captain In Command ROM & GCHB Kengali’s Naiomi Of The Highland Rim TD CGC CA…New Champion and AOM 2016 RRCUS Raisin River Specialty, owned by Elizabeth Mask and Kathryn Patton-Miller
Zuma: (Kanzu and Salome), GCHB Highland Rim’s Zuma Rocks Walker SC CGC, GCH TC PACH Tigris African Treasure BN RE MC MXG MJG MXP5 MJP6 PAX2 THD CGC & GCH Bakari’s Salome Of The Highland Rim JC CA…New Champion and Grand Champion and 2016 RRCUS National Specialty Best of Opposite Sex, 2016 Top Twenty Ridgeback, 2016 #4 Ridgeback Bitch, Multiple Breed Winning, Multiple Group Placing and Winning, owned by Shana and Brad Owen
Duke: (Spirit and Selena), GCH Highland Rim Mr. Duke Ellington Dog House Blues, MBIS MBISS GCH Adili’s American Idol JC CGC ROM & BIF GCHB DC Highland Rim’s Eilidh By Kengali SC ROM…New Champion and Grand Champion and 2016 #3 AKC National Owner Handled Rhodesian Ridgeback, owned by Elizabeth Mask and Saskia Lewis
Hank: (Spirit and Selena), MBIS MBISS GCH Adili’s American Idol JC CGC ROM & BIF GCHB DC Highland Rim’s Eilidh By Kengali SC ROM…New Champion, owned by Elizabeth Mask and Sandra and Al Alverson
Charlie: (Spirit and Selena), MBIS MBISS GCH Adili’s American Idol JC CGC ROM & BIF GCHB DC Highland Rim’s Eilidh By Kengali SC ROM…New Champion, owned by Elizabeth Mask
Bono: (Gunner and Selena), CH Kengali’s Edge Of The Highland Rim By Presidio, MBISS MRBIS CAN CH GCHG Raviro Chiposhi Remington Rimfire JC CGC ROM & BIF GCHB DC Highland Rim’s Eilidh By Kengali SC ROM…New Champion, owned by Elizabeth Mask and Ginny Merchant
Spence: (Gunner and Selena), GCH Presidio Lawyers Guns An Money Of Highland Rim, MBISS MRBIS CAN CH GCHG Raviro Chiposhi Remington Rimfire JC CGC ROM & BIF GCHB DC Highland Rim’s Eilidh By Kengali SC ROM… New Champion and Grand Champion, Multiple Breed Winning, Multiple Group Placing, owned by Martha and Erin Prendergast
Dax: (Gunner and Selena), CH Highland Rim Danger Zone Of Presidio CGC, MBISS MRBIS CAN CH GCHG Raviro Chiposhi Remington Rimfire JC CGC ROM & BIF GCHB DC Highland Rim’s Eilidh By Kengali SC ROM…New Champion, owned by Elizabeth Mask and Deanna Torkelson
Sugar Man: (Gunner and Selena), GCH Highland Rim Sugar Man Of Presidio, MBISS MRBIS CAN CH GCHG Raviro Chiposhi Remington Rimfire JC CGC ROM & BIF GCHB DC Highland Rim’s Eilidh By Kengali SC ROM…New Champion and Grand Champion and 2016 RRCUS National Specialty #1 15-18 Month Dog, owned by Elizabeth Mask and Steve and Joan Bowen
Stevie: (Gunner and Selena), CH Highland Rim Fleeting Rumours Of Presidio, MBISS MRBIS CAN CH GCHG Raviro Chiposhi Remington Rimfire JC CGC ROM & BIF GCHB DC Highland Rim’s Eilidh By Kengali SC ROM…New Champion, owned by Elizabeth Mask and Andrea Williams
JJ: (Gunner and Selena), CH Catch Me Daddy Of Presidio, MBISS MRBIS CAN CH GCHG Raviro Chiposhi Remington Rimfire JC CGC ROM & BIF GCHB DC Highland Rim’s Eilidh By Kengali SC ROM…New Champion, owned by Elizabeth Mask and Kathryn Patton-Miller
Special Tribute to Selena:
BIF GCHB DC Highland Rim’s Eilidh By Kengali SC ROM… New ROM and 2016 RRCUS Brood Bitch Of The Year with 9 Champions from two litters. Selena you are a treasure!
We are grateful to each of the conscientious breeders who produced our Brood Bitches and to the generous and thoughtful breeders and owners whose Stud Dogs have contributed so much to the successes that our dams and their puppies are experiencing. Ginny Merchant - Kengali, Julie Eschilling - Bakari, David Bueno and Greg Castillo with John and Mary Bernie - Westwood, Tammy Lynch - Adili, Mike and Lisa Patterson with Linda D’Antonio - Tigris, Ted and Pam Darnall - Raviro with Martha and Erin Prendergast - Presidio, Susan Hadden-Pisarri and David Pisarri - Lionlamb…we will be forever in your debt.
We wish to thank all our Puppy Owners and our Handlers, both Owner Handlers and Professional Handlers, whose training and dedication made it possible for our puppies to realize their individual potential.
Kathryn Patton-Miller your contribution is the dearest to my heart. The fact that our daughter loves every aspect of building our breeding program as much as I do is truly a gift. Thank-you for being there for EVERYTHING.
I owe the greatest debt to my father and grandfather and to each of the Huntsmen who taught me how to work dogs in open country, how to train scent hounds, how to build a breeding program and how to care for our hounds. Our kennel, The Ridgebacks of the Highland Rim, the realization of my dream, is their legacy!