My name is Ursula Limnell, breeder and owner of Kizimbi Kennel in Finland. I have been involved with the breed for over 30 years. My first encounter with the breed was when I took long term care of my friend´s Ridgeback-mix “Benzi”. Benzi had originally been a stray dog on Barbados and my friend´s family started taking care of him and brought him to Finland. Benzi had an amazing temperament and I wanted to find out what breeds he originated from. He looked like a Ridgeback, with ridge and everything. At that time, it was not possible to buy a Ridgeback puppy from Finland; there were only a few breeders and a long time between litters. I contacted breeder Marianne Gellin from Ikimba Kennel and she helped me get my first own Rhodesian Ridgeback from Janet Parker, breeder and owner of Rejan Kennel in England. My first Ridgeback was Rejan Isadora. Here in Finland I got help and “breeder advice” with the puppy from Marianne.
We have had Ridgebacks at home for more than 30 years, but I started my breeding around 10 years ago. Already when I was 18 years old, I said I am going to breed Rhodesian Ridgebacks when my most active horseback riding years are over. It took me 20 years to keep my word. Since I got involved with the breed, we have at all times had four to six Ridgebacks living with us as our family members. At the moment we have four Ridgebacks at home. In addition, I currently have 3 placement bitches, living in different families. So, the breed is familiar to me since a long time back and during this whole time, I have been actively learning about and following the breed. I currently am and have been vice president of Finnish Ridgeback Association for many years. I am keen to participate in association activities and in developing the association.
The first Ridgeback I had, with thoughts on possible breeding plans, was:
C.I.B. FI & EE & LV & RU & RO CH HeVW-16 VW-16 VW-17 PMVW-17
Ikimba Damyanti "Myy" ( s. Corleo's Cat Walker d. Zimbalooba Ikimba Mtilda ),
from Marianne Gellin, Kennel Ikimba. Myy turned out to be an amazing dog for breeding and she gave birth to 3 litters of beautiful offspring. Most of dogs bred by me,
are sold as so called “pet dogs”, meaning that there is no pressure to take them to dog shows or competitions. The most important thing for me as a breeder, is for the puppies to find loving homes where they can live a happy dog´s life.
I don´t have a certain “type” of Ridgeback I prefer in my breeding. Throughout history, there has always been Ridgebacks with difference in size and appearance and I find this as an affluence of the breed. If the overall proportions are balanced, it doesn´t matter if the dog is smaller or bigger – a good dog is a good dog. Health, temperament and good movement are the corner stones of my breeding. Health is the biggest rock and foundation for my work as a breeder. It seems that allergies have become more common also in our breed. I encourage owners of dogs bred by me, to have official x-rays taken of hips, elbows and the whole back of their dogs. I arrange group x-rays for owners of Kizimbi dogs. I am actively participating in the lives of dogs bred by me and I am always a phone call away from any news regarding the dogs – good or bad. I encourage all Kizimbi dog owners to contact me also when news are not so good. It is especially important for me as a breeder, to know of any health issues the dogs might have. Good nerves and overall temperament are important to me. I have done an official mental test on most of my own dogs and I encourage Kizimbi dog owners to also take their dogs for mental testing.
During the years, I have learnt a lot and my own point of views have changed quite much compared to the beginning of my journey with the breed. I have understood that no matter how much you want you cannot have an impact on all things. Every breeder will have failures, even if you always try your very best. You have to learn from the failures. You must be able to honestly look at your breeding work and dogs and be able to see both the good and the bad. This way the continuous learning process is ensured, and it becomes apparent what things you need to pay attention to in your own breeding. My aim is to constantly develop and to be open. I attend a lot of dogs shows also abroad and I always try to learn more about the breed and at the same time to get to know other breeders. Being a breeder involves a lot of both joy and sorrow. The miracle of birth always makes me stunned. A new life is always equally amazing! The other side of the coin is having to say goodbye to our four-legged friends, it is always as painful and sad.
I hope I still have many years ahead of me as a breeder and as a participant of different hobbies with our dogs. I have mostly been active in dog shows, but we have also participated in lure coursing and blood tracking. In Kizimbi dogs we have many talented dogs represented, on a wide range of different activities. In lure coursing, we have multiple dogs that have had a good running career. Personally, as a breeder, I am most proud of success in achieving championship titles in working dog sports. Kizimbi has won the Finnish Ridgeback Association speciality show BIS breeder title many times, judged by judges from different countries. In addition, Kizimbi is the only Finnish kennel that has been in the Finnish Kennelclub “Breeder of the Year”-competition listing. (all presented breeds in Finland included).
In addition, there are 19 Kizimbi dogs who are show champions of multiple countries, working dog trial champions and a total of nine dogs, who have a Winner title from international dog shows.
The most important “job” of our dogs is to be a loved family member, everything else is just a hobby and doing things together. The breed swept me off my feet already 30 years ago and this breed is still The Number One. I like the independency of Ridgebacks and their ability to work without help or support. I also like how they can read their owner like an open book, they are the most wonderful and loyal friends and if needed, convincing guard dogs. With a Ridgeback you always work together as friends and have mutual respect for each other.