Registered Name: Zulu's Keno Kenae of Zingira
I studied Ridgeback lines for a year or so before choosing a line then the breeder. I chose Keno’s breeder, Nalena Klaas, and her line due to her breed integrity, the pedigree with high drive coursing abilities temperament, and not being over the breed standard for better long term health. This was important to me because my dogs’ work and not having them break down was crucial.
Keno was the pick of the litter, and did turn out on the small end of the standard, which for me I liked. I could actually pick her up if I needed to at 70 to 75 pounds. She was incredibly fast and agile in everything she did. In fact, there was nothing she could not do and learned things lightning speed. Out of all my Ridgebacks she still remains the most all around dog with a perfect temperament, and she helped me train all my puppies.
She was bred twice and produced 11 puppies. Two from her first litter had high National high Specialty placements (a 2nd and 3rd in very large classes), and the puppy I kept, Kobe, became my SAR certified with advanced scent work abilities, and top 5 in best ridge at a national specialty out of 275 dogs with top ridges. Kobe was at the top of the standard but incredibly fast, and she was a great courser and straight racer, just like her mom. From Keno’s second litter I got two more certified SAR dogs with one of them also getting a Barn Hunt title (rat hunting).
We did show Keno some, but she really loved the performance life better and we had to work hard to get her perked up in the show ring. Her scent work ability was off the charts, but one dog can only do so much so her scent work started when she was about 7 years old. She was already proficient in Schutzhund tracking and Schutzhund obedience, so I just converted her to the testing standards of North American Police Work Dog Association. She was just fantastic and certified easily in all her titles.
Keno would work until I asked her to stop. In weight pulling that meant I had to watch her carefully because she would injure herself trying so hard. It did not matter what the task, Keno would walk through fire to get it done. She was totally devoted to me and never refused anything I asked of her.
Her last SAR certification test was at 12 and one half years old, but I retired her before she was 13, even though she did not want to. She passed away in 2012 just two weeks short of age 14 from undiagnosed Laryngeal Paralysis. LP is a progressive disease that affects a lot of large breeds, but was misdiagnosed in Keno. She gave me everything she had all the time.
Keno’s career includes:
AKC Canine Good Citizenship, “CGC” 1999
Therapy Dog International, TDI 1999
AKC Obedience title “CD” 1999
Trained for next level of “CDX”
Trained for Schutzhund BH
Trained for Schutzhund Tracking (much harder then AKC)
AKC Novice Agility Title 2000
Trained for next level of “Open” agility
AKC Novice Agility Jumpers and Weaves Title 2000
Trained for the next level of “Open” jumpers and weaves
AKC Junior Courser, first level of Lure Coursing 2000
IWPA, International Weight Pullers Association, highest and third level “Working Dog Superior”, pulling 33% of her body weight with three high pulls of 2150-2100-2100 pounds; an accomplishment in canine physical and mental conditioning, and harnessing canine drive in this intense sport 2001/2002. She was the first Ridgeback to obtain the highest-level title only preceded by one Ridgeback male getting the first level “Working Dog” title. She was the first Ridgeback to qualify and be invited to The Nationals.
Trained and very successful in bringing in the livestock/horses
Trained as the farm courier (she would carry most anything to and from one person to another, or from the barn to the house, etc) saving a lot of time
Keno’s police/SAR scent certifications with North American Police Work Dog Association:
all tests are police level tests
11-2010, Area Search (air scent with and without scent discrimination) (age 12)
04-2009, Article Search, Area Search (air scent with and without scent discrimination)
04-2008, Article Search
12-2007, Tracking, Area Search (air scent with and without scent discrimination)
03-2006, Obedience, Article Search
Keno was a very fast tracker. She was able to track as fast as my other dogs trailed. Kobe was as good a tracker but not as fast. When Keno was doing Schutzhund tracking, the trainer, Carla from Dutch East, said she was as good if not better then most of her Schutzhund trackers with titles and very high scores.
Personal Keno stories:
Stuffed Baby Sitter
When Keno had her litters the whelping box was beside my bed. The puppies must have been maybe two plus weeks old at the time when Keno went into the feed them. I peaked in to see her feeding her babies. So I went and sat back down. When she was done she came out, but then walked over and picked up a large stuff brown toy. She proceeded back into my bedroom with it, which puzzled me so I got up to look. I watched Keno carefully step into the box, and every so gently lay the toy in the middle of all the puppies. She then carefully stepped out and came back into the living room and laid down with us. After a minute or so I went in to see what the puppies would do with it, and they were all plied on it or snuggled in it. That was such a defining moment for me to see just how deep dogs can think. That stuffed animal was provided by Keno as a baby sitter while she was gone with no help from us. What a great mom she was.
As Keno grew up it was obvious she needed jobs, so I taught her to pick things up for me and hand them to me for a treat. From that she stared brining me things on her own that she knew was not supposed to be on the floor. From that I decided to teach her Article Search, which is a basic evidence search that I took to advanced levels with my dogs. With all that training she decided when she wanted a treat to find me something to trade for it. I could hardly keep anything on the floor because she wanted to trade things for treats. What is even worse she taught her babies to do that also, so all my dogs ended up doing this.
I had Keno’s breeder, Nalena Klaas, over one day and we were eating some pizza. Here comes Keno with something to trade. But we did not realize it right away. She was popping her head up and when I looked I did not see anything. She seemed very pleased with herself so I put my hand out and she spat out a piece of paper in it that was the size of a nickel. She was unable to find anything else to bring me so the small piece of paper had to do. The breeder just shook her head. This concept also helped greatly in other areas like being a courier for the farm including large items like five gallon buckets.
Get the Mail
One day it was raining and FEDEX came. I looked out and the driver was standing at my front gate, which is about 50 feet from my front door. I am thinking “crap, now I got to get shoes on, get my rain coat”, and it dawned me. Send Keno. So I sent Keno to “go see” and she was barking. I hollered to tell him she won’t bite, but to hand here the envelope. He was hesitant but he slowly did, and I told her to take it, which she did. Then I told her to bring it, which she did. The look on the driver’s face was priceless. All he needed was a quick wipe down.
Bring it back?
We use canned food to give pills with, and when a can is done we would give it to Keno to go lick out. She would lick it pretty darn clean and then bring it back for a treat. If she got a large bowl to clean out she knew to bring it back. Even if one of the other dogs left a can or bowl somewhere Keno would find it and bring it back for a treat. She taught this to her babies as well. We could give all the dogs a can and they would all bring it back when done. The funny thing was if I got occupied or forgot, Keno would bump my leg with it telling me she was there to get the can. Kobe and the others would just stand there just waiting. My dogs learned very early on that they could earn extra treats by doing extra things. This was set in so solid they would invent ways on their own to get good treats.
I taught Keno how to hold the horses at the end of the pen. She was about 5 years old when Little Man was born and he was into everything. When I would clean out the pen, Little Man would knock over the wheelbarrow full of horse droppings. I used Keno because Kobe just wanted to race Little Man. Keno and I would herd Little Man and his mom to the corner of the pen where I would tell Keno to “hold”. She would keep them there until I released her. At times Little Man would creep up to say hi to her but she would nip at him and bark him back…but in the stall they were buddies.
A herder by accident
Keno had always gotten along with all animals be it my horse, rabbit, bird or guinea pig. She was about two years old when I got my first Peruvian Paso mare as a weanling. I soon got another mare and they both went out in the back pasture to graze. They started getting stubborn and did not want to come in. So one day I was watching her chase them up and down the fence line from the outside of course. And the light bulb went on, so that day when they were out I called them like normal, and they blew me off like normal, but this time I was ready with Keno. I made a fun get’em sound and she was off like a rocket. She ran around the horses barking, grabbing their tails, and finally she irritated them so much they chased her right into the pen where she came to me. She kept looking back to make sure they were following her in the whole way. She did this naturally. Later on I read the Blue Lacy’s do this kind of technique with Bulls. From then on I never had to fret over walking all the way out to the pasture to bring them in, because Keno did it for me.
That dog was the most amazing mouser I have ever seen.........fast as a cat. When I would open the horse’s feed bin she was right there. I would roll the top of the bag, but they still seemed to find their way in it on occasion. They also sometimes got into the bin. Once Keno heard or saw a mouse the game was on and I had better get out of her way. She would jump into the feed bin headfirst and go into mouse kill mode. She has also dived head first into the feedbag. Even at age 13 plus she was mouse hunting.
Me, me, pick me
When Keno was 1.5 years old we lost our first Ridgeback, Max. She was showing at the time and got horribly depressed. So we took her to Pet Smart after a couple of days at an adoption event. They had a lot of kittens out in cages. So I walked Keno around and she was checking out kittens here and there, and most of them would hiss and spit at her. The one cage she got to had a host of kittens including one little, adorable calico. As Keno got to the cage, the little calico had her paw out reaching for Keno. Keno investigated the little paw and the kitty loved all over Keno’s face. Keno looked up at me with a sparkle in her eye. So I asked for that kitten to come out so they could visit. I put Keno in a down beside me, and the kitten in my lap. I could not keep them apart. They loved each other right away…so we got Keno kitten. It was like the difference in night and day. They remained friends for 7 years before my allergies to cats caused me to have to re-home her with an older woman who really needed a best friend. By then Keno had other doggy pack members so she was okay with it. I will never forget how cut the two were when the kitten wanted Keno and Keno wanted the kitten. That same kitten would play with Keno, my rabbit, and my guinea pig all at the same time.