Shana’s Mischa fan Ûnder de mûne
After me starting to work part-time, us missing our Quito weekends so much and a second break in onto our home, despite all the extra locks and alarm system, the decision was made. We wanted a dog of our own and there was no argument about the breed it would have to be. Our search for a Ridgeback puppy begun.
There weren’t all that many Rhodesian Ridgeback breeders in those days, we had never even met one besides Quito. So we went to a couple off shows to see more Quito’s and contacted the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club Netherlands, the RRCN. Although we both grew up with dogs as kids, this would be our first dog. We were advised to opt for a female puppy and were put on the waiting list. The long wait begun.
About six months later we got a call from the club, in a small Frysian village a litter was born, 11 puppy’s, 5 males, 6 females. If we had no objection to a non standard puppy we were invited to contact the breeder. We had no objection, went to meet the pups and the breeder, passed the critical selection and a couple of weeks later went back home with a male puppy Lieven had fallen in love with from the day one.
Shana’s Mischa fan ûnder de mûne, born 06-09-1998
Poor Mischa was, following the advice in our booklet, “how to raise a puppy”, put in a bench on the first night home and left screaming his lungs out. After two nights, in which none of us slept, he had realised crying didn’t work and he would have to make do with his puppy blanket, warm water bottle and cuddle toy. I forgot a lot of those fist few months but years later we realised how easy raising him had been.
At puppy school, slip chains were mandatory and every respected dog school trained the old fashion Martin Gaus way. Bizarre how one goes along with that, not that Mischa was trained being punished of manhandled, but it was all more a drill than the fun playful and reward based way we nowadays train our dogs. Mischa never got to know the freedom our current dogs have. He was never allowed on the couch, in our bedroom and was fed nothing off the table. The last rule is by the way something I would have loved to maintain but with Ridgeback 2, 3, 4 and 5 I lost that battle 😉
Mischa was a real dog dog. He wanted to play with everyone, whole day long if he got his way. He got along great with Quito whom we still picked up for walks on a regular bases. It was such a joy to watch those two play together, all power and grace.
Not held back by any prejudice he was always off leash. He never looked for trouble with other intact males and although he did posses some hunting instinct, he never went out of sight for more than a minute and was back before there was a reason to worry. One day he cornered a small rabbit, it was so scared that it didn’t dare to move anymore. Mischa softly nudged it as if asking if the “play” could continue.
When he was ole enough to do so, Lieven and he spent hours walking through forrest and heather together. They were an inseparable pair those two.
He was the perfect dog, he never destroyed anything, we could leave our food on the table and he wouldn’t take it. We made every beginners mistake one could make but he just loved us anyway and never gave us any reason at all not to trust him in whatever situation.
When he was 4,5 disaster struck. We were enthusiastic motorcyclist in those days and had booked a racing week on a French motorcycle circuit. Dogs were not allowed so we asked my mum to come over and watch the kids, Mischa and our other animals during that week. It was the first time we left without Mischa.
Mum had a whippet bitch and of course, just when we had left, she turned into heat. When we retuned, he had lost a lot of weight. Mischa had always been a bad eater, leaving his bowl with kibble to sit the whole day taking a few bites every now and than, so we thought he had eaten even less with my mums dog being around and us being away. But even after coming back home, he wasn’t eating. Could he be lovesick? We weren’t alarmed right away but the next day I noticed some ticks in his muscles while he was sleeping, and then a couple of hours later he looked all of a sudden very dried out. I rang my friend who is a VET, it was Sunday so she wasn’t working and she came by right away. After feeling him up she noticed a lump in his belly and we went off to the clinic for bloodwork and an n X-ray.
The blood was not okay at all, and the x-ray showed a mass. Had he eaten a pine cone? Ball? I couldn’t imagine that as he had never done anything like that, but either way the surgeon was called right away. I can till hear myself soothing him, “you go and have a nice sleep sweetheart, we are going to fix you, go to sleep, all will be fine”…
I stayed in the room while they opened him up and saw how they looked at each other, and then I realised how terribly wrong it was. I flew out of the ok, followed by my friend who told me that the mass was a huge tumour in his spleen, they had already taken that out but the cancer had spread to all his organs visible .with the bare eye. They could close him up and wake him for me to take home but we would have to let him go soon and recovering from his operation would be very hard and critical given the state he was already in, I could also decide to give him peace now and not let him wake up again.
I chose the latter.
it was April 10, 2003 and Mischa wasn’t even 4,5 years old.