And so this is Mars. Just look at him! Ahh!
Mars is a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and a lot of people have never heard of the breed, and let me tell you, they are not for the feint of heart. They will test your patience, they are bred to be brave and unafraid, and to figure things out for themselves. Be independent. Strong willed, they are not supposed to back down.
Mars does not like to back down, he will take on anyone at daycare during playtime, even the big kids, and he will not hesitate to tell his Mum and Pop when he’s upset about something. But Mars knows the rules, and you absolutely always do what your Mummy and Daddy say, so his strong will has been molded into slight sass. By slight sass, I mean we had to teach him to ‘Speak‘, so we could in turn tell him to ‘Shut up‘, or as I like to call it, ‘DON’T SASS YOUR MUMMY YOUNG MAN.’
He is so regal, curious, and observant, but oh my lord he is so just….. DUMB. He tries so hard, and he’s only 6 months old, but still man. Come on.
But before we get into any of that, let me tell you how the idea of a Ridgeback, and more specifically, Mars, came into our lives.
Late Summer 2016, Thomas wants to get a puppy. He’s dead set on a German Shepherd/Alaskan Malamute cross. Thomas grew up with two Malamutes, the late, and oh so majestically great, Spook and Jynx. Thomas saved up all his money as a kid, and bought Spook as a puppy, and he loved them, and the breed, (except for all the hair!) He wants to get it cross with a Shepherd because he figures what all 26 year old men think about when they consider dog breeds with their dog trainer girlfriend. ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE DOG. Yes! That cross right there to him was the JACKPOT. Couldn’t get any better than that right there…. Could it?
Well one day, we’re sitting in the parking lot of the bank, and out of no where, I say, “You know what breed I love? Rhodesians.” Thomas, having never heard of this magical creatures before, is intrigued by the name, so he googles them. *Jaw drop* “Trained to hunt and fight LIONS?!” That was that, Thomas began looking into Rhodesian breeders, occasionally. You know, poopin’, googlin’ stuff, Mum picks a shitty movie, surfin’ the websternets.
Over the course of the next 8 months, Thomas slowly builds his interest into a full blown obsession. He’s searching left and right for breeders in Western Canada. Hell, we’re even looking in Ontario, because frick it, we’ll take a drive, I’ve got family there. He’s submitting applications, sending emails, he’s in Poland at this point, he barely has reliable WiFi, and can’t make phone calls or texts, but he’s on a freaking roll here. He’s messaging me all the time about Ridgeback breeders, periodically mentioning how he hasn’t heard from anyone yet, when one day, ONE FATEFUL DAY (RIGHT HONEY?!), he gets an email. The ONLY breeder in Western Canada with a litter in 2017, the puppies have just been born! Thank you Kiwara! They’re interested, we’re interested, they’re in Saskatoon, Thomas is from Regina, we make the drive all the time, how do we make these people see how a Ridgeback would be perfect for us?!
Thomas LOSES IT. He’s setting up phone interviews for me to do while I work full time, as a waitress at nights, and run a dog daycare during the day, messaging me, we’re coaching each other on what we should say, he’s panicking because we might be getting a puppy, how much is this dog going to cost us?!
Thomas is sending me the updates from the breeders Facebook page, pictures of all of the puppies and links to videos, even though I follow them as well. He’s just so excited, he can’t help himself!
Surprisingly, and I have no idea how they thought we were a lovely normal family couple unit thing, when Thomas is literally on another continent for an entire half of a year, I can’t get Frost to stop barking at the tree to give her stick back, Thomas is obsessive compulsive about obtaining a puppy even if he has to steal it, and I probably haven’t slept in days because of the new business. BUT THEY DID. They picked us for a puppy, we paid our deposit, and arranged to visit and see the puppies at 4 weeks old, shortly after Thomas gets home from Poland.
The visit went so well! We met all the puppies, and the entire family at the breeders house! You could tell they care about their puppies, and teaching their kids about the importance of taking care of another life. It’s hard work with 8 puppies! Oh my gosh, Thomas and I both had a puppy put into our arms, I got Nutmeg and he melted into me. Immediately fell asleep, it was adorable how comfortable he was. Thomas was holding a squirmer, who’s name I don’t recall, but oh my, what a wiggly little one! We sat there, cuddling puppies, watching them explore and be curious, and we watched Gumbo try to play and wrestle with his brothers and sisters. Nutmeg and Gumbo were the two biggest puppies, and we knew we wanted a big boy, (Thomas was tired of being the only boy in the house,) so they were our top two options. Nutmeg because he just seemed so comfortable and sweet with us already, and Gumbo because of the high energy. We figured if we’re going to get another dog, it’s energy level should at least be able to keep up with Frost, so we’re secretly crossing our fingers for Gumbo. We say our goodbyes, and head back to Edmonton, talking about the puppies the rest of the way home, we’re both so excited!
3 LONG weeks later, we hear from Kiwara, we pay them, read our contract, and we get word that we get our pick of the litter, because everyone else wants a girl! WELL HOT DARN! Gumbo it is! Well, Mars now! Mars came home to us a week after that, on his 8 week birthday, and since then, it’s like he was just meant for us.
Now let me just say, Frost HATED Mars when he first came home. We had put her away in the bedroom, so that he could check out his surroundings uninterrupted, and check out all of the smells of our house, and get used to Thomas and I. Frost having no idea what is happening, gladly goes into the bedroom, and curls up on our bed for a nap, without a single suspect of what might be coming her way. About an hour or two later, we decide it’s time for introductions. (This is Thomas’ favourite story to tell people, it’s even funnier when he acts it out!) Mars sits on the floor in front of the couch, and keep in mind, he’s 8 weeks old, and hasn’t ever known any dogs other than his brothers and sisters. Oh, and his nose has God-like powers of scent detection. We lay Frost down in a neutral and submissive position on the floor about 4 or 5 feet away. She immediately sees him and is uncomfortable, because she doesn’t know him at all, and he’s weird. Mars, at the same time, FROM 5 FEET AWAY, lifts his nose to the air, sniffs in her direction, and immediately stands up and begins hump-walking himself toward her. It was the funniest, most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen. The look on Frost’s face like, “Oh GOD PLEASE NO, MOM HELP MEEEE!“, and Mars’ uncanny ability to immediately, at 8 weeks old, be able to correctly identify a female he’s never smelled before, from that far away, and decide that she is mate worthy.
Subsequently, Frost hated Mars for the first 4 months that we had him. After that moment she set clear boundaries, like “BACK THE EFF OFF.”, which he kindly respected, and they went their separate ways. Of course, Thomas and I are heartbroken, our babies don’t love each other. Oh my god, our family is broken. But then they played once at Christmas and we thought there was hope! Unfortunately they only played for two and a half minutes, Frost said, “Fly away…” and she hasn’t played with him again until recently. Mostly the reason has been because Mars is a boy and Frost doesn’t like to play with boys really, and he’s not neutered yet, and that makes her uncomfortable because he will still occasionally look at her like, “Ayy gurl you smell guuuud“, but also he’s a puppy and he can’t figure out the difference between sit, speak, and stay. The S sound confuses him, so that means he’s an imbecile and doesn’t meet her intelligence standards.
Also, he’s been significantly bigger than her since he was 3 months old, so it took him a long time to figure out how to use his tree limbs, and then also be gentle with them at the same time.
BUT NOW, OH MY LORD. They have so much love for each other. They have this understanding, that maybe sometimes Mars will be rough when they play, but he doesn’t mean to hurt her, it’s just fun and excitement. And if Mars ever tries to hump Frost, she will literally castrate him and make him watch.
Now they play, and they snuggle, and they gang up on their daycare friends, because now they have strength+agility. Mars has taught Frost that playing with the other pups is actually kind of fun, and thanks to him, she has more than 3 friends now, and our family isn’t broken and our fur kids ARE SO CUTE TOGETHER.
Don’t forget to check out Kiwara Ridgebacks on Facebook! They make absolutely gorgeous babies, keep an eye out for their next litter in late 2019/early 2020!