08 July 2012

Starry Night

Today I’d like to take some time to talk to y’all about Bob and Victoria Ruggles of the R Star Ridgeback’s kennel in Ellsworth, IA. Twenty-two years ago, the Ruggles started their Rhodesian Ridgeback journey in the way that everyone does; with a companion. They brought Rhonda home with the simple intention of adding another member to their family. After seeing all the CH’s on her pedigree, however, they soon found themselves in the Confirmation Ring. It was here, at the Dog Shows, that they would meet Kate Borst, of the Jabulani Rhodesian Ridgeback’s kennel up north. The Ruggles credit Kate’s friendship, guidance and mentorship for much of their success today as a Kennel themselves.

(For those who are not familiar, the Confirmation Ring refers to the competition of pure bred dogs against each other and in pursuit of the Breed Standard. These dog shows are held worldwide, and owners/breeders travel far and wide in the pursuit of earning Championship titles for their companions. Dog Show’s themselves are a topic for a whole different blog post, one I’m sure we’ll get to later on in the year, for now, though, I will simply say this: If you are new to the realm of pure bred dogs, or are curious or interested in learning more about a breed than what Wikipedia can tell you, then a local Dog Show is the place for you. These individuals are the Subject Matter Experts when it comes to their chosen breeds, and so long as you do not interrupt them when they are working in an official capacity, they will more than likely be just giddy to tell you all about their breed and its future in your life!)

Sadly, as all of our companions do, the time came for Rhonda to leave her home and travel to the Rainbow Bridge. Bob and Vicky then spoke with Kate, and fell in love with a then four week old Willow. Willow came home with them at eight weeks old, and R Star Ridgebacks was born. Vicky would go on to show Willow in the ring as a Novice handler, (no small feat) to her Championship Title. As R Star’s Foundation Bitch, Willow was bred three times, producing eighteen puppies. Once with CH Jabulani’s Kishindo Matusi in September of 2000, then again with CH Jabulani’s Chakra in 2001, and finally with CH Emoyeni’s Made in Sweeden. Three of which went on to receive their Confirmation Titles as well. 

 CH Jabulani Willow of R Star - Willow

Bob and Vicky’s pick of Willow’s first litter was Tank. If they had known just how literally he would take his namesake, perhaps the Ruggles might have named him Tiny instead. Tank would eventually grow to be 31” tall and approximately 100lbs of solid Rhodesian Ridgeback. In addition to growing into his name, Tank would also grow up to fulfill the expectations of his pedigree. He earned his Championship title by receiving all of his points in the “Bred by Exhibitor Class” which was just as much an accomplishment for him as it was for Victoria. Tank sired three generations of R Star Ridgeback puppies, all while exemplifying the grace, sensitivity, and protectiveness that the Rhodesian Ridgeback is known for.

CH R Star Baye Bomani – Tank

When it came time for Willow to retire from the puppy making business, Echo stepped up to shoulder the burden. Daughter of Jabulani’s ‘Ginger’ and Emoyeni’s ‘Biko’, Jabulani Loki’s Echo of R Star, informally known as Echo would go on to whelp 3 litters, all sired by Tank. Echo’s time of producing future R Star Champions is now behind her, a responsibility inherited by one of her daughters, Saba. She now is content to provide companionship to Bob and Vicky, however every now and then she needs to step in and explain to the youngin’s how things are done, Ridgeback style.

CH Jabulani Loki's Echo of R Star – Echo

R Star Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Bob, Tank, Echo, and Victoria

“Mbele Safari translates to 'Onward Journey'. Considering where we've been, what's gone on in our lives the past year, and where we're headed, this seems a fitting name for our new baby.”

Saba, a Tank and Echo puppy was born in May of 2007. In 2010 Saba was bred with CH Tundra’s Wm Augsburg Courage, JC. In 2011 she was bred with CH Rollings Croixridge Pheonix. This spring of 2012 Saba was bred with CH Riveroads Ridgerunr Hammer Of Thor, BN RN JC NAP NJP. Saba is currently about 2 months along and is showing just how stuffed full of puppies she is.

CH R Star Mbele Safari – Saba

That’s probably enough about the history of R Star Ridgebacks to wet your whistle. If you’re interested in reading more I suggest checking their website out here. Let’s move on to talking about how I found them and why they’re the Kennel for me, eh? Choosing a breeder is a process. There are several sources of literature out there meant to aide and guide you through the search. And since it was indeed a search, mine started in the most likely of places. Google. Step one, I’ve learned about the Rhodesian Ridgeback, I like what I’ve learned. I want one. How do I get one? Well a puppy needs a mom and a dad, right? So naturally I need a breeder. Now some folks, like my better half, will travel halfway around the country to a breeder they know and trust to get a pup. I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same, but I certainly wasn’t setting out to do that. Because of this, I started my search more locally. RRCUS, the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States, had a few links that sent me to various places. Eventually though, I landed on the Jabulani website. Through some extra digging and research I also found R Star Ridgebacks. It didn’t get much more local than that.

After reading what Bob and Vicki had to say on their website, and seeing that their Breeding Program’s foundation was deeply rooted in the Jabulani line anyway, I decided to give them a try. Typed up my ‘Hey I’m a newb but I’d like to know more about you and your dogs’ email and then I sat back for the wait. I didn’t have to wait long. I received an enthusiastic, friendly, and informing reply back from Victoria very quickly. Naturally, she was curious as to how I’d found out about their Kennel, what I knew of the breed, why I was interested in the breed, and to know a bit more about me and my situation. After a few more back and forth emails, the better half and I were invited out to Ellsworth for a formal meeting.

Unfortunately I did not take pictures during this time, however the meeting went fabulously. We were only able to meet Victoria that day, as Bob was out, but we were compensated by being introduced to a whole pack of Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Echo, Saba Tatu, Red, and Siri! The interview itself was very friendly, relaxing and informal. We spoke about the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed, the things we knew, the things we were curious about, stuff we should know for the future. Victoria was friendly, professional, and most of all patient as I was completely distracted by the dogs and had to be reeled back into the ‘human talk’ on a number of occasions. We were able to watch the RR’s in their element inside the house, and then also out in the large backyard where they were able to run around and play. After expressing out continued interest in a potential upcoming R Star litter, we spoke briefly about the contracts and expectations of new owners, and then said farewell.

Shortly after our interview, conveniently, the Ruggles were hosting an R Star Reunion. Even though we were sadly Ridgebackless, Vicky and Bob were generous enough to give us an invite to the fun as well. It was a great time! 3 Generations of R Star Ridgebacks gathered in one big back yard with all their humans, what a blast! This was a major selling point for the better half and I to make our final decision. Having the ability to look over the progression of generations of the R Star breeding program all in one place, in their element, with adults and children and siblings and elders all around… Well one couldn’t have asked for a better evaluative tool in terms of Kennel Quality. Below are a handful of pictures from the R Star Reunion 2012:

The Ruggles

Scheming Convention

Play Play Play!

Your Author and his Better Half

More Ruggles Action

And the Group Shot

Since the Reunion, Vicky has done a marvelous job at keeping us up to date with the R Star news. We were very excited to here that the potential Sire's test results had come back as all clear and that the plans for the next R Star litter were in full swing. Here are a pair of pictures of the handsome devil, Hammer:

Saba gave birth to a litter of four boys and four girls last Sunday, and we are thrilled and excited and anxious to see the promised pictures of the little ones! Though we are also patient, because we already know how much trouble one dog can get into. Vicky and Bob surely have their hands full with 8 new Ridgeback puppies underfoot!

As a technical note, I would like to apologize for the abysmal formatting in this latest update. I'm afraid Blogger is getting the best of me at this point, and my newness to blogging is showing through rather marvelously. I will strive to learn more about the systems and preferences as the blog moves along and hopefully I will become proficient at it before I have my own puppy underfoot.

More to come as it rolls in,


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