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Kim Willis' Rhodesian Ridgebacks



Kim has had great success with her Ridgebacks in many search and rescue disciplines.  Area search alone includes specialities such as wilderness, disaster, avalanche (utilizing both wilderness and disaster), building search, article search (searching for evidence), and all detection work such as cadaver (land and water), narcotics, accelerants, bombs and agriculture. Altogether, Kim has put 59 official titles and/or certifications on her six RR.  In addition to having worked with both local and state search and rescue units in the past, in 2006 Kim created the first ever Community Emergency Response Team “CERT” K9 program within Chesapeake CERT.  In 2007 it became official, and Kim’s dogs were added to the roster as members.  This organization is supported by FEMA and Department of Homeland Security, and falls under Citizen Core organization of volunteers.  The volunteers help with disasters in their community, and across the US when requested.  In Chesapeake it falls under City of Chesapeake Office of Emergency Management and is managed by the Chesapeake Fire Department. 


In 2007 Kim also started the first ever CERT Disaster Therapy Dog branch with her dog Hunter, but this was not advanced on until 2014 when CERT decided to expand the program while adding more Critical Incident Stress Management “CISM” programs.  Kim developed a complete set of K9 SAR and Disaster Therapy Dog SOPs.  Kim has had five of her six Ridgebacks participate under CERT.   


Kim’s Ridgeback articles have been published in national magazines, and her Ridgebacks featured nationally and internationally.  One notable feature is an article by Kim and about her amazing dogs spanning 7 pages in “The Ridgeback”, Brood Bitch issue.  The Ridgeback is The Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of America’s national magazine and goes out to members all over the world.   


Kim and her Ridgebacks were a large part of Mathew Valdivia’s research and subsequent two part article in “The Ridgeback” on the functionality of the Ridgeback that was also part of the 2008 Ridgeback World Congress in Ireland.  Top Ridgeback breeders, dogs, owners and handlers come from all over the world to this event.  Kim was able to assist Mathew Valdivia’s research and findings to show that this breed can be very versatile with the right breeding, dog selection, and training.  His research was very well received when presented in Ireland. 

   Max (1993-1999)

        Registered Name: Din-Akin Ari Demissie 


Max was my first Ridgeback and my first Lure Coursing dog with junior and senior courser titles, and he was half way to his AKC lure coursing championship.  He was locally bred with some show lines further down his pedigree.  I loved the temperament and looks of his parents so I gave it a chance.  Max was already 6 months old when I got him and I wanted to make sure he got a good home.  He turned out to be a very solid, nice size dog, with good conformation and had six points in towards his conformation title.  He became my first search and rescue dog.  We worked in a local SAR unit, and he was also a therapy dog.  Sadly, his career was cut short with a stomach muscle tumor, so even though he was at working level he never got to respond to a search.   For more information on Max’s life, titles, career, and stories, please continue reading...

 KENO (1998-2012)

   Registered Name: ZuLU'S KENO KENAE OF ZINGIRA


There was nothing this dog could not do.  I was very blessed to have her, and that she lived to just two weeks short of age 14.  Keno was pick of the litter.  When I got her, Max was in a SAR unit that was failing and there were no other units in the area, so I decided on a new path for Keno.  She was a successful therapy dog, had titles in obedience, agility, lure coursing, weight pulling, and she was a great help on the farm as a multipurpose farm dog.  SAR opportunities presented themselves but by that time I had bred her and started Kobe.  She was bred again and I started the two puppies from that litter.  Later on in Keno’s life I started her in SAR, and as with everything else, she rocked it.  She was certified search and rescue in multiple disciplines with many searches under her belt, and a very successful mom with three successful SAR pups, two with high national specialty placements.  Keno and her offspring have been featured many times in national Ridgeback magazines in the US and other countries.  Of all my dogs, Keno was the most well rounded, biddable, and totally devoted to doing what ever I asked of her. You can view Keno's pedigree here. Keno's NAPWDA K9 Honor Roll retirement notation can be viewed (Scroll down to Virginia where you will find my retired SAR dogs up to date that have been certified under North American Police Work Dog Association.) For more information on Keno’s life, titles, career, and stories, please continue reading...

  HUNTER (1997-2009)



When we lost our first Ridgeback, Max, in 2000, Keno went into depression.  We allowed her to pick out a kitten and they did become super buddies, which helped tremendously.  We decided to consider getting another dog for her as a friend.  We put some feelers out in the Ridgeback community and got an email from Hunter’s owners.  Hunter was three, and the family had to move to Okinawa due to military orders.  The husband was advancing and the family knew they would be on the go all the time, so they unselfishly decided to place Hunter before leaving.  After some talk, they brought Hunter to meet Keno.  They brought Hunter into the yard and he and Keno ran off together like they had known each other for years.  Hunter went on to get a weight pulling title, lure coursing title including a national specialty 4th placement, and his CGC and TDI.  He became a Disaster Therapy Dog, as well as the CERT mascot and ambassador for animals in disaster.  He attended events where he would help to pass out information about how to evacuate with your animals.  He had the kindest and sweetest personality of all my RRs, and adored children of all ages.  He was a big dog at about 98 pounds but a true gentleman.  He loved leading the pack howls, and would entice the girls to try to get him as he ran by.  He was the dog that kept things fun and lighthearted. You can view Hunter’s pedigree here. For more information on Hunter’s life, titles, career, and stories, please continue reading...

 KOBE (2001-2015)



Kobe was from Keno’s first litter.  She was actually the first-born and always full of fire.  She was the first one in the litter to naturally use her nose to lead her path somewhere, and she had the most prey drive, so she was chosen for my SAR work.  Kobe certified in SAR in many scent disciplines under North American Police Work Dog Association, and was very successful with some very good and detailed searches.  She was part of a few units but found her best home with CERT doing light disaster, and she was able to do amazingly fast building searches including schools and large warehouses.  Her advanced scent work produced incredible information on lost pet searches for owners, with car trails in the forefront.  She did not retire until she was 12, and then she still did a few small tasks here and there until her surgery for Laryngeal Paralysis.   


Kobe followed in her mom’s footsteps and did everything I ever asked of her.  She was a fantastic courser and straight racer, but SAR was more important so those were set aside.  At almost 14 she got around pretty good and loved to sit and sun while I worked in the garden or in the barn.  Being retired had its perks; she got to do pretty much anything she wanted to do.  Sadly the progression of LP caused her breathing problems and she was put to sleep a couple months short of 14 years old.  I spent the most time with Kobe doing advanced scent work, so she will always have a special piece of my heart. You can view Kobe's pedigree here. Kobe's NAPWDA K9 Honor Roll retirement notation can be viewed (Scroll down to Virginia where you will find my retired SAR dogs up to date that have been certified under North American Police Work Dog Association.) For more information on Keno’s life, titles, career, and stories, please continue reading...

Two-Way Custom K9 Training Chesapeake VA

TWO-Way (2002-2012)

   Registered Name: ZINGIRA'S Two-WAY ARROW


Two-Way was born from Keno’s second litter.  That litter was line bred for coursing and high prey drive, and we were not disappointed.  I chose him from the litter for his extremely high prey drive and other attributes I was looking for.  He was great at coursing, but I chose to do Human Remains work with him.  He excelled at this quite quickly, but it turned out to not be something I really liked, so we moved on to live search work.  He was cross-trained for Area Search, Article Search, and Man Trailing.  He was also trained for pet search.  He was certified through NAPWDA like my other dogs.  He loved to work and was very businesslike, not minding too much detail but very efficient at his work.  He had to be put to sleep in 2012 from cancer far in advance and unable to locate.  It was a very hard blow, as our dogs are unusually very healthy due to our natural health and feeding practices.  We suspect it was a house fire he worked.  As time as evolved from 911, it has become apparent that dogs get loaded with carcinogens in their work around burnt buildings.  His passing left me with one newly retired SAR dog, Kobe, and Tazz, his full sister and the only one working. His character and love are greatly missed.   Two-Way's Dam's pedigree can be viewed here.  Two-Way's Sire's Pedigree can be viewed here .  Two-Way's NAPWDA K9 Honor Roll retirement notation can be found at, (scroll down to Virginia where you will find my retired SAR dogs that were certified under North American Police Work Dog Association).  For more information on Two-Way’s titles, career, and stories, please continue reading...

  TAZZ (2002-2017)

       Registered Name: ZINGIRA'S razz-ma-tazz


Tazz was born from Keno’s second litter and was kept along with TW.  She was not originally planned to be kept, but she choked at 7 weeks old and died.  We miraculously were able her back with Heimlich and CPR.  She almost did not survive.  Due to the time she was without oxygen, we feared potential mental problems so we chose to keep her instead of passing that issue on to someone else (more on this in her full bio).


Over the years, she blossomed into a really good dog.  Her litter was line bred for high prey drive, and she had that just like TW.  Her original roll was farm varmint extinguisher, which she still did extremely well.  She always learned slowly, so I took my time and started her SAR training.  She certified in both Area Search and Article Search for many years.  I found out she is extremely good in all scent work, and has done great in pet search.  In 2013, and 2014 we started her on the new sport, Barn Hunt, and got two titles on her. It is like go to ground rat trials for small terriers, but this is for any size dog, including large.  She was ready for open but I did not want to cause undue stress on her at over 12 years old.  Every dog deserves to enjoy being retired.  She will retire in 2015 from SAR work as well.  She still loves to mouse hunt. Tazz's Dam's pedigree can be viewed here.  Tazz's Sire's pedigree can be viewed here.  Tazz's NAPWDA retirement notation can b viewed here,, (scroll down to Virginia).  For more information on Tazz’s titles, career, and stories, please continue reading...   

Both pups and mom 1, 6 weeks old  4-19-2

Houston (2015-Present)

       Registered Name: Diamond's, Houston we have a problem, of zingira


Phoenix (2015-Present)

       Registered Name: Diamond's Phoenix Rising of Zingira


Houston and Phoenix are siblings.  When Tazz retired I wanted to start two more SAR dogs from the same line, but after two years of waiting, and due to unforeseen problems the breeder had, that was not going to happen.  I got very lucky to find Houston and Phoenix's breeder.  Drove far north for these babies to do many temperament and scent tests at 5.5 weeks old.  After two days Houston and Phoenix were standouts plus out of a very large litter it was clear these two were pals. 


My last three SAR dogs I bred and had from day one, making it easier to choose the best puppies for the work and pack dynamics.  Making sure these two would complement each other was as important as the other tests.  A fantastic duo for sure and were certified in obedience and area search with North American Police Work Dog Association at 15 months old.  They even surpassed my expectations of timeline.  


When Houston was just over a year I cross trained him to be my service dog after popping my meniscus out while training.  He was the biggest and the most clingy of the two.  He excelled in that as well and even still he will pick anything up I drop, which is very helpful when you have full hands.

Their mom and grand mom are quite famous in our breed.  Their mom is:


You can see her pedigree at:



You can see his pedigree at:


Their personal pages coming soon.    


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