Ridgebacks of Distinction since 1959
I got my first dog, a wire haired fox terrier named Zazu Pitts of Mahwire (from the famous kennel, when I was 6). I decided about the same time that I wanted to be a vet. I got my second, also a Wire, when I was about 10, and entered my first dog show when I was 11. We finished her championship, but there was not much showing in the ensuing years until I got my first Rhodesian Ridgeback in 1959.
I went to University of Pennsylvania intending to go to their vet school, but ultimately switched to the Wharton School at Penn and graduated in Economics and Real Estate. I then attended and graduated Harvard Law School.
When my first son was a toddler and we were in our first house, it was time for a dog. After extensive research on various breeds we zeroed in on Ridgebacks. Luckily, there was a kennel in Charlottesville, Virginia which was affiliated with Lamarde Perro’s Margaret Lowthian, the “mother of the breed” in the U.S. My second Ridgeback came from Canada from the Kraal kennel affiliated with the well-known Thornberry South African kennel. A combination of Lamarde Perro and Kraal formed the nucleus of my breeding for the first 10 years.
My first concentration was temperament and the second was conformation. Originally the names in the first litter started with A, and the second with B, so that I could recall the breeding of any dog of mine. I had two wonderful vets over the years and started x-raying hips even before there was an OFA. They guided me on the basics of breeding sound dogs without health problems. Margaret Lowthian and Bill O’Brian were early mentors as well. I have been fortunate to avoid the health problems some lines have had. Whether it was good breeding, careful screening, or just plain luck, I have been able to avoid bad hips or elbows, bad thyroids, heart problems and deafness.
A number of the icons of the breed got their early dogs from me: Barbara Sawyer Brown, Wendy Wolforth, Barbara Rupert, Lynn Elliston, Susie Hills, Danielle Sand and others started with or bred to Rollings dogs. You will find my bloodlines in almost all well-known kennels today.
During the years there was a small cadre of people that were active in breeding and for the most part we cooperated and worked together well. I sold dogs to people that I liked and stayed in touch, even occasionally having get-togethers at my farm. At some point I decided that about every third litter I had to go out of my line so that I would not double up on the “bads” as well as the “goods” of line breeding. Over the years I brought in Aslan, Kwetu, Kimani, Spring Valley, Tigris and others-- breeding my linebred, typy Rollings bitches to the best dogs from other bloodlines.
While I have always been an active exhibitor, and scores of Rollings dogs have finished, the show ring was never my main focus. I have bred many notable litters—five champions in the Luxury car litter, four from the Fine Jewelry litter, and ten from the Great Masters breeding, but it was more important for me to find good homes with people that I liked to associate with. This has meant that my dogs and bloodlines are in Mexico, India, France, England, Brazil, Sweden, Portugal and other foreign countries, as well as most of these United States.
During this career, I have also bred and shown Whippets, English Bull Terriers, Australian Cattle Dogs, and Greyhounds, but have kept Ridgebacks as my main breed, now over 54 years. Probably the most consistent traits are temperament, beautiful heads and expressions, and true ridgeback type. In 2010 I was honored by RRCUS for fifty years of service to the breed and club. I am an American Kennel Club Breeder of Merit. I typically have three or four adult Ridgebacks in my home, and occasionally I co own a female who lives with others.
I have been breeding Ridgebacks longer than anyone else in the U.S., and possibly the world. As a result, I am today placing dogs with grandchildren of early buyers—they are often descendants of the early dogs! I am both surprised and gratified by the demand for Rolling’s dogs. I always have a waiting list, and the advertising is purely word-of-mouth.
Mary Lynn Elliston (Applegarth) and I have collaborated for more than forty years, and she has been an important factor in the success of the Rollings Ridgebacks. She has a prodigious (and legendary) memory for names, date and pedigrees, and an encyclopedic knowledge of the technical aspects of breeding and Ridgeback health, which I call on often. But in the end, the buck stops here. I am personally involved in every facet of breeding, whelping, raising and placing puppies, and take the responsibility for the ultimate result. Whether it’s sleeping on the whelping room floor on a yoga mat for the first three days, playing with puppies, or fielding calls from new owners, I expect to continue for the foreseeable future.
-Jay Hyman, Rollings Ridgebacks