As anyone who's been following for any length of time knows, Zero is a Big Deal when it comes to the show history of any of my dogs. I've had my own wins, nothing major or really and truly exciting, but Zero is the dog that has picked up any slack I might have been feeling here at home. I didn't get into the breed to set the world on fire, really to do that you need a lot of resources and to be in the right location, I just wanted to add a few dogs to the world which I could point to and say, "I did that" and be a little proud. When Zero went to live with Aegis Ridgebacks in Utah I knew he was going to have much more chance to show off his quality and contribute to the breed than if I'd kept him. I was not wrong and that is only to the credit of his owner Erin and her exemplary promotion of this worthy dog.
(Zero RRCUS National 2012)
This past year has seen Zero in semi-retirement. He's been to a few shows to keep him frosty and in those few shows he's managed to get to the number 10 Ridgeback in the USA which means for three years running he's been in the top 10, two of those years he was top 5 Ridgeback. His other wins, perhaps more significant, include ACK/Eukanuba 2010, Westminster 2011, and an Award of Merit at the RRCUS National Specialty in 2011.
To me Zero seems to be a 'Specialty' dog. His best wins come when he is in competion against several of his own breed. He never did win an All Breed Best in Show and it's the one thing that's missing from his resume. However, in a sense I think winning against dozens of your own breed is almost a harder feat because the judge is comparing like to like and that can be a lot more difficult if you don't have a firm idea in your mind of what you want to see. Zero's Specialty wins have come under judges very well respected in the breed and who know good type, movement and showmanship - and Zero has all of those in spades.
(San Diego RR Specialty - Best of Breed 2012)
This year Zero was only hitting the shows that his owner Erin either liked, thought he had a chance with the judges, or were close to home. He started the year with a bang at the San Diego Ridgeback Specialty and then petered in and out of shows for several months, often handled by Erin instead of her professional handler. While I was in Barbados Zero was at a show in California and once again pulled off a Specialty win at a show held by the Bay Area Rhodesian Ridgeback Club with another large entry. He sure knows how to keep up with the times!
This year was leading up to the RRCUS National Specialty in November, since Zero likes to show so much it's good to keep his head in the game with the occasional show since the Specialty is where, if you are going to show well, that's the place. It was held in Florida and all the reports I'm hearing indicate it was a show to remember. One day I hope to attend since there are typically upwards of 500 Ridgebacks in attendance - that would be something to see. Zero showed his heart out again and I was keeping up with the reports online - he made the first cut, then the second cut and finally he wins another Award of Merit! For those unfamiliar an Award of Merit is a judge acknowledging the quality of a dog after their Best of Breed choice - basically indicating that the quality of the AOM dogs was on par with their Best of Breed choice. This is Zero's second consecutive Award of Merit at a National Specialty and I think, a nice swan song to his career.
(Zero Award of Merit 2011)
Erin has several Zero sons and daughters to show, plus his nephew Ziggy who is turning more and more heads as he matures. Ziggy is Rifka's son and he was sent to Erin in the USA by Taryn of Elyia Ridgebacks in BC. She knew I'd sent Zero to Erin hoping for a great career and Erin turned out a picture perfect dog, I'm confident Ziggy's future is also bright. He is certainly a boy to keep your eye on!
(Photo credit Erin Coogan)
So congratulations once again to Erin at Aegis Ridgebacks and Team Zero - I look forward to seeing Zero's get prove that quality doesn't stop with Dad - he stamps himself on every puppy he produces and I have no doubt his legacy will carry on for years to come.