Over the years, I bred hundreds of quality puppies at River Ridge Farm. The joke was that the island might eventually sink under their weight!

May 27, 2008

The breeding of dogs or any species of animals for anthropocentric reasons is a serious responsibility under the best of circumstances. Here on a small island it’s downright scary. What if there’s a hurricane and no commercial dog food can be imported for months? You’d better make sure even the highest of breeds will eat ripe bananas  and breadfruit boiled with fish. What happens when the customer base is broke or exhausted? You’d best lower your price and your expectations. What do you do in an emergency when there’s no vet? You’ll have to resort to folk cures and herbal medicines and hope you’ve chosen the right ones.

As a breeder of Rottweilers and Rotts crossed with Ridgebacks, I do my best to place the right pup with the right owner–I have even been known to refuse to sell pups to certain individuals. In my mind, a well matched combination of dog and owner is made in heaven. It doesn’t always have to be a lovey-dovey, gooey-wooey baby talking affair. Sometimes it’s just the meeting of an eye, a gentle touch, or a kind word gets the chemistry flowing.

Apart from the callous criminal who abuses animals (and probably people, too), the bond between human beings and canines is a pretty basic instinct. Ancient mythology is full of miraculous tales of doggy devotion to their masters, wonderful epics jam packed with loyalty, love, and adventure. My personal favorite is one of Aboriginal origin. It tells of how, at the beginning of time, the crust of the earth split open leaving a pair of two-legged creatures (a man and a woman) on one side of the chasm, and two of each of the species of four-legged animals on the other. At the last possible moment, the dogs attempted to leap across the abyss, but fell short, hanging by their claws on the side of the cliff. The humans helped them to safety, and the two species have been living harmoniously ever since. 

As if there wasn’t enough written on the subject, I’ve just compiled a collection of short stories about Ridgeback dogs and their owners.  Mutant Mongrels: Six Hair-Raising Tall “Tails”, is set around the world and covers several thousand years–from the Stone Age in the Arctic Circle; adventure on the high seas of the Indian Ocean; Ancient Egypt; the coliseum of the Roman Empire;, the Post-Classic Era in the Mexican Highlands, colonial times in Southern Rhodesia; up through real time on a Caribbean island. Whew. I learned so much and had so much fun in the process that maybe I’ll get around to publishing it someday!