My name is Obré van Heerden. I live on a sheep farm in the Karoo, in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, together with my husband, Willem and our Ridgebacks, Anatolian Shepherds, Cocker Spaniel, Yorkie and all the farm animals. Our nearest town is Hofmeyr, but with a population of only 8000 people, it is more like a village.
We wanted a family dog and my father suggested a Ridgeback. We were looking for a dog that could be trusted with children, be loyal to our family, be clean in the house and big enough to scare intruders. Quite a tall order …. but then we found “Jenna” (Siaram Jalla of Kulima), and, as a bonus, she was handsome as well. Our dear friends, Rob and Marlene Shepherd (Foldsworth Kennel) introduced us to showing and breeding. Ever since, we have never been without our Ridgebacks. After so many years of living with Ridgebacks, we are still learning from them, and about them everyday.
Our lives with them have always been exciting, whilst discovering the mysteries of this breed:- stubborn and strong willed, but also intelligent and loyal, showing total devotion to the family. They are kind to our children and friends, but protect our family very effectively against unwelcome intruders. The Karoo makes for harsh living conditions; very cold in winter and very hot in summer. We have realised over the years that the Ridgeback adapts well to these extremes, probably because of being indigenous to this country.
The dogs enjoy a walk in the veldt, chasing rabbits and meerkat. It is quite awesome watching them in chase or nose down, picking up a scent in the red ground, excited by being in their natural environment. It gives us great pleasure watching them racing through the veldt grass, muscles rippling under their short red coats. Or, once back home, watching the pack on the green lawn, playing, teasing each other, or quietly lazing in the hot sun. We only show our dogs about 3-4 times a year, as the various responsibilities of farm life do not allow for frequent trips away from home. Our breeding programme includes black and liver-nosed dogs.
Our friend and mentor, Janet Wang (Nomvuyo Kennel), takes all the credit for her encouragement over the years. There has been exciting and wonderful moments, but breeding and showing is also never without its disappointments. Even so, we shall continue in our strive to breed a better quality dog and to promote this wonderful breed to friends in South Africa and all over the world.