Herbie was born on the 14th October 2002. He came into our lives just before Christmas 2002, he was a total surprise for my family, as I had always said no to their requests for a dog as it was never the right time. I had grown up with dogs and horses, but as a recently divorced mother of 4, I had my hands full. Something shifted that autumn, I was walking with my kids in one of our favourite places. I saw a black dog with a distinctive ridge on its back. I had never seen this before so sped up to quiz the owner! The black dog was about 6 months old and was a cross between a black lab and a Rhodesian Ridgeback. That was definitely the moment that dictated Herbie would come into our lives.
I had never heard of a Rhodesian Ridgeback before so went home to investigate. The very first thing that I read was that Rhodesian Ridgebacks are the most handsome of breeds' The images that came up with the search totally sealed the deal for me, this is a breed that would perfectly fit into my family.
After much more research I set about looking for litters locally, not easy as they are not common. I went to view a litter about 2 hours away. My kids had no idea. Herbie was the only ridgeless pup in a litter of 10. I wanted a ridgeback not a ridgeless. After spending time with the litter, all the pups settled with their mum, but not herbs. He would not leave me or my trouser legs alone. He was making it quite clear that his choice was to come with me. There was something about this pup, he was making it very clear that he was the one. I spent all of 5 minutes wrangling over whether a pup with a perfect ridge was what I most wanted in the breed. The answer was a resounding no! I wanted this pup without a ridge because he had chosen me. 4 weeks later I went back to collect him, I had not said a word to my kids.
Ridgebacks are not touted as ideal first pets. They are highly intelligent independent thinkers, training is not easy as they are a strong willed breed. I read every book, but I was still terrified that I may have bitten of more than I could chew. To say it was a challenge was an understatement, but boy was he a character. Needless to say my kids were over the moon to walk in from school and find him in the kitchen, one December morning in 2002. My extended family though I was nuts, and had brought a child eating monster into my house.
I had grown up with dogs, but not one like this. He was everything the books said he would be, a challenge. My kids could often be seen running down the hall way screaming with said puppy chomping their heels and shredding the bottoms of their trousers! I must admit that at around 18 months, I sometimes wondered what I had done. At around 2 it was like a switch flicked. My wickedly naughty full grown pup, who delighted in terrorising my kids and all their worldly belongings, became the dog he was meant to be. Herbs was a suave aristocrat. He was our protector, our joker, a distinctly independent dog who was unwaveringly loyal and loving to his last breath.