BWANA KENNEL AKC BREEDERS OF MERIT

AKC Rhodesian Ridgebacks Ethically Bred and Raised in our Home. Therapy and Show Dogs raised with Children.

                  A Breeder's Tale~~~ Golden Instinct

 Ch Windridge's HeatWave Bwana CGC TDI  , Our Jasmine.  This girl was that elusive Soul Puppy that if you are very lucky you will have as part of your life and family.  Jasmine was a Liver nose, she was in fact our First Liver nose.  She taught us more about being smarter than our dogs, than all the rest put together. The stories of her escapades are legendary however I will share just a few highlights of the gifts she contributed to our line and lives. Jasmine was always a Brood Bitch, nurturing and caring from her earliest days on.  She , along with her Mate, Bo, Ch Calluna Kwanzaa Bwana Imani CGC TDI JC were nothing short of amazing when it came to taking care of the family. 

When our first Alabama Grandson was born, he was a tiny little preemie. He came home from the hospital with monitors and wires all to keep him safe from the chance of a SIIDS incident.  ( SIIDS is a leading cause of death in premature infants, they fall into such a deep sleep the brain "forgets" to make the baby's lungs and heart work correctly). The baby will simply turn blue from lack of oxygen and die with out the parent ever knowing something is wrong.  Because Tristan was so tiny his heart and breathing monitors did not fit well enough to give solid protection. 

  

 On New Year's Eve 1999 the family all had plans to celebrate. Bob and I were going to an early dinner with plans to return home in time for Tristan's mother , ( our youngest daughter Crystal) to meet up with some friends for a concert and party.  Much had been made of 2YK and no one wanted to miss out on having a "story" about how they had spent it.  Bob and I were nearly ready to leave for our dinner when the dogs began pacing up and down the hallways. We thought it was possibly the early fireworks causing them to stress. Thankfully when Crystal saw them focused so intently on the nursery bedroom door she decided to pop her head in to check on the baby. He was Smurf Blue!  She ran with him to me crying " Mom, He isn't breathing , He isn't breathing at all !!"  I was still strapped in bandages from a lumpectomy for Breast Cancer and I had to struggle to get free of the restraining wraps. As I began CPR , Crystal ran to get her father and the 4 of us raced to the ER where Crystal and Tris spent their first New Year's Eve together. The nurses and doctors were so impressed that the dogs had been able to sense there was something amiss.  From that day on the dogs were given free rein to be in the nursery with the baby. They would lie on the carpet or bed near by and when they felt he was sleeping too soundly they would get up and bump his leg, hand or head ..whatever they were able to reach to interrupt his sleeping pattern preventing any reoccurrence of that terribly frightening night.

Later our second Alabama Grandson was born.  Our little redhead was no preemie , but a strapping baby boy of wonderful size.  You can imagine our surprise when we discovered the dogs were still taking turns , led by Jasmine to assure he was safe. It was not at all unusual to find her in his crib curled next to him and Bobby crooning away to his canine nannies.

 

 

 

  The photo of Jazz in the yard with Ceattle was taken around 2005.  CC wanted desperately to play in the back yard with the "Big" Kids ,  Jasmine was amendable to the plan as long as she could sit very close to her, guarding her from being bumped or frightened.  She would happily sit for hours taking care of her young charge.

          Ch Calluna Kwanzaa Bwana Imani CGC TDI JC ~~~ Bo

I must find the photo of Bo and His beloved "Mum". Along with our children we had both of our Moms living with us for many, many years. ( Mine for 8+ and Bob's for over 14) .  Bob's Mother was a terribly frail woman, never weighing more than 80 pounds in her entire adult life.  My Mother was more robust until her health failed her in the most cruel of ways.  Mom who had always been the life of the parties and a history buff developed Alzheimers in the last few years of her life.  Our family is split with some in California and the rest of us on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. When it became apparent that Mom's health was deteriorating quickly we found new problems that were handled by our wonderful Bo dog. Mom decided that she did not need company to take a walk , however she would quickly get lost upon leaving the front porch. All of our coaxing, bargaining and pleading was to no avail. When she decided to go she would sneak out the front door. Bo very quickly caught on that this was a problem so he began to keep an eye on her. If she made it to the door he would place his large body in the way prohibiting her from leaving. As she became agitated he would ever so gently take her hand in his mouth and lead her to the over stuffed leather chairs in the front room.  Once he had her in position he would steadily lean into her legs until she would tumble backwards into the stuffed seat!  She would scold him and at times pound with her increasingly weakening hands on his big head and shoulders.  Telling him he was a "Bad Dog", ( words that would break the big boy's heart from anyone else) , As soon as he could he would sit carefully on her feet to make sure she could not get back up and try again. When a family member found them in the front room he would sweetly nuzzle her cheek and then let us know it was our turn he was now off the clock!  Our West Coast family made arrangements for Mom to come back to California for a period of time to allow every one to find their closure.  We drove out in our RV with dogs, kids and Bob's Mom , who had long been my Mom's Dear Friend.  The trip was devastating to us as in the brief time apart Mom had worsened and no longer knew who any of us were.  We made the arrangements for her to be flown home on October 16. As we said good bye to Mom she tried so hard to place each of us however the only one remembered was Bo.  She sat in her wheel chair and scolded him for not being where he was supposed to be.  He leaned into her body laying his big head on her lap.  There was no doubt they had a connection unlike any other.  We arrived home and began Mom-Proofing the house.  Getting the special equipment she now needed and making all of her appointments with her doctors for her return.  On October 8th, Bo woke up the household in the early morning hours with a  long keening wail.  He continued for the better part of an hour crying as if his great heart was breaking. We were frantic trying to check him for a physical cause. He finally laid next to Bob and I while giant shudders racked his solid frame.  Eventually he became still  with only a sobbing like breath letting us know he was still awake.  At 6 Am Central time the phone rang.  It was my eldest brother letting us know Mom had passed in her sleep a few hours earlier. Bo knew his special Lady was not coming home to him.  He grieved for her with the family and I in the most honest display of true love I have ever seen.

                                     Genetically Engineered

I had to take an early litter of puppies to our vet.  The kids were scattered about my feet on leads, either sleeping or chewing on one another.  There had been an emergency which delayed our appointment by 15 minutes or so.  The girls had come out to pet and cuddle the pups so time passed quickly. We suddenly heard the Rooowl of a Lioness! The pups all snapped to attention,  staring in the direction of the exam rooms with great intensity. They were so focused shivers of excitement rolled along their bodies. They glanced at each other as if to say " We've got this ...right?" Within minutes a Lioness of about 300 pounds strolled out on her lead to the waiting truck in the parking lot. The emergency had been Lady a young Lioness rescued by our local High School Students from a gas station exhibit. David, our vet, is also the vet for our local zoo in Gulf Shores. ( google The Little Zoo That Could for more information). The pups milled about after her departure, finally settling back down. When we went into our exam room they went nuts scenting David's arms, hands and clothes. David had to laugh at the intense perusal and petting the pups commented on the amazing genetic engineering of the breed.

                                          Atlas and Athena

Our second litter of Puppies between Bo and Jasmine produced more lovely ridgebacks and one was given as a gift to a Young couple with  one small child. They had lost their much loved RR , Titan, when a mess up at the vet's clinic caused him to be vaccinated using a company that is unfortunately known for producing bad drugs. The poor fellow passed away with in days of the injection. 

While we make sure everyone knows you can never replace a loved dog. It is possible to find a different kind of love if given a chance. Athena had been bought as a companion for the first Ridgeback and she was nearly a year and a half older than Atlas.  Upon Titan's passing she was grieving him desperately so they were happy to have Atlas join the family to comfort her.   After a year or so had passed  the family uprooted and moved from Southern California to the North East.  The dogs found themselves in a whirlwind of changes.  The weather was the least of the changes they now had to deal  with, once moved the family was told the dogs would have to become outside dogs!  A lovely custom kennel was built to provide them with every comfort possible and a 6-8 foot fence was around it to keep the hounds in the new kennel space.  The house they had moved to was owned by family, and was on a 300 acre heavily wooded estate .  The terrain was rough and there was a large assortment of wild life living there. From Bob Cats to Black Bear. In the first months there they struggled to keep the dogs in the kennel and quiet. The fencing was continually reinforced and adjusted to make escape beyond difficult.  These were house pets not accustomed to being shuffled to the side and seen less and less as the young couple's second child was born.  Complications and the normal chaos of any move took precedent over the  transition the dogs were expected to deal with.

One afternoon the weather was dropping steadily and a cold front was moving in. Somehow in the ever changing family routines the 4 year old son managed to slip out a side door when the family thought him to be napping.  Atlas saw the boy wandering across the large yard and set up a racket.  Soon he and Athena managed to scale the 8 foot fence and off they went to track their boy. 

It was well over 2 hours before anyone went to wake the child up from his "nap" and then panic set in.  The Sheriffs were called in along with Police and Search and Rescue.  With quickly dropping temps it was imperative that the child be located as quickly as possible. The Search and Rescue tried to keep the parents and grandparents calm when they realized that their small son was wandering a very dangerous area for adults, let alone a child weighing less than 50 pounds.   They brought in helicopters and 4 wheelers and worked a grid pattern shouting the child's name.   The parent's relief when the radio announced they had him in sight was tremendous, however when the Rescuer's explained the parents had to come to the location as quickly as possible they were filled with fears that he was injured or hiding. You can imagine their shock when they arrived at the co ordinates and found their small son curled up with the 2 Rhodesians who were not allowing any of the strangers to come with in 20 feet of their boy. They had used their body warmth to protect him from the cold. And the sight of the 2 large brown dogs with lips curling back quietly each time a stranger tried to move closer was enough for the Rescue teams to fear for their safety. There was zero doubt the dogs were in charge of the boy until his Mom and Dad arrived.  

                                            Jasmine and Zeke   

In 2005 -2006 my doctors were experiementing with a variety of medications to control the health issues that had changed my life.  Many days I felt like a Zombie just moving through life by chance.  And then there were days when my meds were so out of balance that just sitting upright was a massive effort.  About this time we found my Soul Puppy , Jasmine had yet another amazing talent that she had taught her self.  Jasmine was never a kissey dog.  A quick nose bump and an "air kiss" was pretty much her standard.   Yet she began standing in front of me, if necessary on my legs while she smelled my breath and skin. It was annoying at first, She was no longer a petite girl.  And since I was so nauseated I rarely ate. I could come up with no reason for her fascination with my breath.   After several days of this she became more and more insistent,  Often pining me to the chair . It was not until I was  driving one afternoon and she began this persistent behavior once more that I felt angry. I scolded her and shoved her away, yet she climbed back across the seats and once more into my lap as I was trying to drive. I pulled the car off at the first  vacant lot I could find in the late afternoon traffic and was getting ready to secure her lead to the rear seat belt ( something I had never done in her nearly 10 years with me)  when I began to seize.  I am not sure how long the seizure lasted only that I as barely concious by the time it was over , feeling weak and limp. She stayed close by checking on me and whimpering softly.  When I could finally drive I took the back roads home and went straight to bed.   In a state of disbelief , as I had never had a seizure before  I found myself trying to come up with reasonable conclusions for the whys and hows.  Jasmine stayed cuddled on the bed next to me.  It took 2 more grand mal seizures for me to admit to myself this was not a fluke, that something was wrong.  And each time Jasmine alerted me to the coming seizures by as much as 20 minutes in advance !  She went on to watch over me for the next 2 years while the doctors tried to balance the meds that we found were causing the seizures.  Jasmine watched over me until the day she crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

With this new found respect and appreciation for the Ridgeback's innate ability to understand situations , process them and make a plan of action I was amazed when I had a phone call from Zeke's owners, he is a grown pup out of Jasmine and Bo.  Denny , his owner a gruff and rough fellow that had a RR for 15 years before getting Zeke as a gift for his teen aged son.  He wanted to know why Zeke was getting in his face?!   I asked him to drive by and allow me to see what Zeke was doing.  Sure enough Zeke was alerting on Denny. Being a Retired RN I noticed right away his color was off. His breathing seemed strained but Denny shrugged it off as the extra 15 pounds he had picked up over the holidays.,...  I asked him how he was feeling?  He hesitated and said not as great as normal but no big deal he was sure.  Then I had him call his wife, Bev, and I asked her when he had taken his last physical?  She could not remember,. So I explained Denny needed to get into a doctor Now. Not tomorrow or next week, Now.  Denny underwent a quadruple Bi pass the following evening. His doctors called it a "Widow Maker", a silent and ever so deadly clogging of the major arteries.  Over the next 3 years Zeke kept track of his Dad's health and the employees at work.  Alerting to one young man who's blood sugar was crashing and who had no clue he was a diabetic.  And then for another employee who had  undetected epilepsy. Both men were seen by doctors once Denny saw his boy in action an Both are being treated now for illnesses that could have easily killed them left untreated. Zeke now lives the life of a Prince on his Dad's Texas Cattle Ranch. As Denny says, "There is Nothing Too Good for Zeke"

 

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These are simply a few or our family Stories about our Pack and the dogs who made our lives such an adventure. There are many  more. But these are the stories I most often have other folks tell ME!  They have heard the legends but were not aware they were speaking with the actual owners and breeders of the dogs being spoken about. Every dog in our long history has a Tale or two, they inspire, frustrate and delight everyone who has ever known them. We hope one day to add the stories of the adventures your Ridgeback  brings into your lives to our living history .

                                       Zion and Crystal

Zion, is a gorgeous young male.  Out of Diane Jacobson's Calico Ridge Kennel with Kobe by way of our dear friends at Southridge, Kathy Lyons and Linda Winford's Aggie. He was brought to our home and program to increase our upper arm and help to maintain the lovely bone that we want in our line.  He is not your typical stud dog as he is a "people" kind of guy. Loving to hang out and be part of everything going on. Our 2011 Summer vacation trip with the 5 grandkids involved 9 days on the road in our RV  with my husband, myself, and our grown daughter, Crystal. We opted to add Zi to the group as he loves a good road trip! The heat has been dreadful this summer yet Zion has enjoyed being an ambassador for the breed. Even treking about the Rock City trails with all of us. He enjoyed everything except the very high, very long suspension bridge.  While he did not like it , he refrained from balking and crossed it with greater confidence than I possessed! 

 

After touring the park for nearly 5 hours we drove to the Raccoon Mountain KOA where Crystal helped me make dinner then played Yahtzee and began teaching the boys how to play several other games. The girls and she had a few rounds of another game, "Headbandz" before we set up the sleeping arrangements and she took Zion out for his evening walk.  Just before leaving Crystal took her own evening meds including a new drug that the doctor had only had her on for approx. 3 weeks.  Nearly 20 minutes after she and Zion left the rig, we began to worry. Most walks were 10 minutes or so.  I was getting up about 5 minutes later to go find them when the door opened and Zion and Crystal came in . Zion was pressed close to Crystal's side.  I remember thinking he must have done something wrong since he was so focused on Crystal.  Crystal unclipped his lead then came to speak with her Dad and I.  She spoke about 3 words before everything she said sounded like gibberish.  I stopped her, telling her we could not understand what she was saying. She looked oddly at us and began once more attempting to clarify what she had tried to say.  Once more it was a string of unrelated words, nothing made sense !  Bob and I looked at her as her expression changed from odd, to terrified , we rushed to get to her as Zion raced for her as well, arriving  at the same time we were unable to prevent her from falling as she had a Grand Mal seizure!

Zion stayed close by her as we monitored her carefully. I grabbed my lap top at my husband's suggestion and looked up the side effects of her newest medication and sure enough seizures were listed! We called for an ambulance and were told that it may take as much as an hour for them to arrive. For the next hour we checked and rechecked Crystal.  Between Zion and I, she was  looked after so carefully .   She finally became more coherent, exhausted but she knew where she was, and the dates etc. Answering all of our questions to my satisfaction. We reconnected with the emergency service and were told they were still 20 minutes out so we cancelled the call.  Zion  checked her one last time then jumped on the bed and zonked out soundly for the night. Crystal slept like a baby, responding when awakened and falling quickly back asleep. The next morning, a neighboring camper came to ask us about Zion saying as a child he'd had a dog who would lead him about by his hand too.  We must have appeared perplexed by the statement as he elaborated ,  saying they had spotted the boy leading Crystal by the hand after she had been standing for what seemed like 10 minutes in the road. As they watched,  it became apparent that our daughter seemed confused about where the RV was parked ? Before they could help out,  Zion had taken over and brought her safely home to us.  Zion is 4 years old. Normally he would be far more interested in the wild life,  kids riding bikes and people grilling out. Yet he knew when it was necessary for him to step up and care for his girl.  Crystal later was told about everything that had happened that evening and was stunned. She has no recollection of any details, only knew that after taking her meds she began to feel unwell.  She could have been injured or worse, however the Big Dog was with her. We are glad he will add to the gene pool that we are so justifyably proud of!

 

The Dance

One of my favorite stories of all times had do with the Mother of our Foundation Bitch Jasmine.  She was named Windridged's Molly Be Good, not for the song but because as a puppy she was often told "Molly,   Be good!"  Molly championed easily and then went on to obedience work her ownr

and breeder's true passion in life.  She worked the routines with little effort and scored highly each time.  After a few years he owner had a stroke. Thankfully it was a minor one but it left him confused at times as he was recouperating. We had gone to a dog show and when we saw her owner being very cross with her we decided to go root for Molly. It was his first trip back into the obedience ring and he was understandably nervous. Our Irish wolfhound and Mastiff friends came to watch with us.  Molly began the routine normally following her ownr's directions as the judge dictated the path and routine to be followed. a few minutes into the trail it became apparent that her owner had become confused. He was struggling to follow the simply commands, lefts and rights, slows and fast became confusing to him. He paused in the routine and struggled to remember what the instruction meant.  Molly stood patiently at his side.  when she realized he was struggling she leaened gently into his side and began to guide him through the routine. The judge would call out the direction and Molly would oblige.  Walking faster when directed, staying when told making it all look as if she was listening to her owner. He became red faced as he realized he could not grasp the routines. Rather than a big disquaification they came in third.  She guided hii as if it were a dance they had done man, many times before. He focus was on him as a dancer would have been on her partner. She did not look for praise just looked to see her Dad through the routine. Happily the confusion was short lived and her owner was able to regain his full memory and ability.  But watching Molly that day had all of us unashamedly in tears.  She knew her Dad needed her and rose to the occaison. It had nothing to do with the instructor calling out the next step in the routine , as her gentle conection to his leg told the story, she simply wanted him to be happy.  She wanted him to celebrate with her as he often had in the past. Molly went on to many obedience titles. She was exceptional in every way. Yet the most exceptional quality was her understanding that her Dad needed her and she could rise to the occaision making him proud and sucessful. No one else watching knew what was going on. They simply saw a dog and owner working an obedinece routine. After the competion was over I went to the judge and explained what he had actually saw, his eyes filled with tears and he commented that it was most unfair that stories like this were hidden from the judges. That her preformence had been faulted only because she had at one point seemed to slow in repsonses, now he understood why.  Watching the Dance between Molly and her Owner taught me much about the devotion and intelligence of the breed.  It was beautiful.

                                               A Mother's Love

We had planned to breed Caine ( Bwana's Wind Out of Africa) to Zion ( Ch Southridge Bwana's Natl Treasure) in 2011.  Caine is such a sweet girl, not at all pushy like her sister Dreamer !  She scored Excellents on all of her health testing, passed her temperment test with little effort and is wonderful with our Grandkids.  However her heats have been difficult to pin down as she is in and out with very little mess and fuss.

We decided to go to the Repro Expert at our Vet Clinic where it was decided the best chance at a litter would be a surgical implant. The process is simple, the  bitch is put under anesthesia and while she is under the male is collected. The sperm is then deposited within an inch of her uterus via a small incision in her abdomen.  This negates the normal "swiming' that would be needed for fertilization.  Everything was going as planned until the Vet opened her up, at that point he discovered she had very immature reproductive organs. Normally they would be the size of a Man's thumb. Caine's were less than half the size of a Number 2 pencil. Dr Langston went ahead and implanted her but told us we had very little chance of a litter. In fact he suggested we buy lotto tickets as our chances were much better at hitting a Power Ball than Caine becoming a mom. We felt terribly saddened by the news as we had always expected her to have the chance of mothering her own pups. She had been an amazing Aunt to her sister's pups 2 years earlier. 

With that news and many hopeful owners on our waiting list, we discussed our options at length and opted to repeat the breeding between Zion and Dreamer, ( Bwana's Champagne Dreams). A little more than week after the attempted breeding with Caine we bred Dreamer.  As the days passed I felt that Caine was changing. Each time I mentioned it, the Vet would remind me she had nearly a non existant chance at taking and Bob would tell me to stop my wishful thinking. Around what would be Dreamer's 48th day of gestation we took her in for an ultra sound to verify puppies. I insisted we take Caine in as well. The look on the Vet's face when puppies were discovered was priceless!  We could clearly see at least 4 or more !  As the normal gestation is about 63 days and Caine was bred 10 days earlier we were now under a lot of pressure to get 2 whelping boxes set up and all the necessary equipment for 2 sets of puppies.

On November 28th Caine went into labor. It was still too early yet She delivered a total of 6 puppies including  a stillborn pup.  Sadly they were all so very tiny. The largest pup was barely 5 ounces.  Normally a RR puppy is around a pound!  At first  they seemed to be doing well , but after the 3thd day they began to rapidly fail and one by one we began to lose pups. Caine was devastated.  She looked for her babies and softly cried. We took all of them to the Vet where we were told she was struggling with a birthing complication and we would have to choose between her or the pups, as she would not be able to take necessary meds and still nurse them.  I began tube feeding them every hour around the clock. We did what we could trying to keep her spirits up and the pups alive.  One by one they passed until only one, a ridgeless male was left.  He had been the biggest and seemed to have the most heart.  He began gaining weight, slowly but steadily. Despite that, Caine began to distance herself, bracing for what we were sure was the belief she would lose him as well.

On day 10 Dreamer, who had watched from a distance came to me where I was camping next to the whelping box and asked to see the little male.  Her intention was so clear she may as well have spoken it aloud.  I had her lay down and put the pup close by. She nosed him from head to tail and looked at me with a deep sigh. Then gently nudged him closer to her side so her could nurse. We had not realized her milk had come in since she was still more than a week away from her expected whelping date.  He squirmed closer and closer until he could latch on to a teat and began to nurse strongly ! She settled in to take care of him.  His nursing brought Dreamer into early labor however, her 4 pups were all a pound or better in size. As each new puppy was born I would remove Angus and place him in the ready box with his new cousins / half siblings.  With his new Foster Mom's determination he was able to suckle to his heart's content. Watching Dreamer take charge of the little boy was incredible.  Caine would lay on our bed, about 3 feet away watching with concerned eyes but did not try to drive her sister off, or reclaim her son.  She would come to the side of the whelping box from time to time to count puppies and look for Angus. Dreamer allowed her to be close only warning her once when Caine leaned into the box to look for the small pup.

 

It is certainly not unheard of for a bitch to foster orphan pups, it is however unusual for them to claim a puppy when the Mother is still present. And for that Mother to not just accept the transfer but to be relieved by it.  As far as Dreamer was concerned Angus was hers. And it was done with Caine's Blessing.

 12 Day Old Angus on his Mother, Caine's leg as Foster Momma, Dreamer stays close by.... 

By 10 weeks old Angus weighed 20.7 pounds! He was a happy  and easy going male. The biggest in the "litter".  His "siblings" all adored him and accepted him completely. 

 

 Bob and Angus with Proud Mother Caine at 10 weeks old.

 

 We were blessed by a Wonderful Family who already owned a RRR,   ( Ridgeless Rhodesian Ridgeback).  The Cowans were one of 8 homes on our waiting list who upon hearing about Angus asked if they might be his forever home.  He has been registered "Bwana's Against the Odds. "

           Not one of Ours but tells you much about the Breed!!