CHARLES DANIEL HELM
The Reverend Charles Daniel Helm was born in 1844 and died in 1915. We don’t even know whether he was a dog-lover or not, but history records that he was the man who brought two dogs to his mission at Hope Fountain near what is now Bulawayo, which is in the far south-west corner of Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe), and these two bitches were to become the foundation of what we refer to today as the Rhodesian Ridgeback. by S H Stewart
1879- Helm brought two dogs to Hope Foundation from the Kimberley area, the land of the Khoikhoi. These dogs probably did not have ridges themselves, but when breed to van Rooyen´s existing pack produced them. The Helms dogs were larger than the ridged dogs common in the 1940s and 1950s. They were courageous, but had insufficient speed and scenting power, hunting mostly by sight.
1879 – Cornelius used the Helm dogs for the first time. He breed and used ridged dogs for the next 35 years.
BREEDS USED BY VAN ROOYEN
After Van Rooyen “Nellis” had some dogs after Helms dogs, he had a great purpose to have a ridged dogs which could acompained him and help him to hunt or guard and protect animals and people.
First he used Pointers with the Khoikhoi crosses to improve speed and scenting power. Unsatisfied, he then used Airedales. Acording to Mrs Wilde , nee van Rooyen, her father´s dogs were the colour of Irish Terriers. Given the large numbers of Fox Terriers in the region, they also may have been used, although probably not by Nellis because they were too small for his purposes. Certainly terriers of some sort were used at some point, given the well developed teeth of all Ridgebacks and instinctive ratting ability of some. Still not satisfied, van Rooyen then used Collies and finally got what he wanted- ridged dogs with courage, speed, endurabce, scenting power, agility, cunning and instinctive hatred and respect of lions. As Halmi put it, the Collie crosses “could cold track… run like the wind, and to their ancestors´intelligence had been added a subtle new cunning at rounding up grazing animals. They retained the Hottentot (Khoikhoi dogs´) instinct for hunting toghether in a silent pack.” According to Wellings, Cornelius Jr. stated, that the best dog his father ever had was out of a Collie bitch.
It seems that the principal crosses used with the Khoikhoi dogs were Greyhound, Bulldog and Pointer. But it´s known from Selous that in 1885 Nellis had a deerhound- like dog- in the other words a large, rough-coated Greyhound. The data also suports statements, that Nellis used Airedale and Irish Terriers and Collies. He also used the terriers and buldogs -breeds which we know are certainly part of the Ridgeback gene pool.One might infer that Fox Terriers and Boarhounds (Great Danes) were also used at this time, but there is not direct evidence, that van Rooyen used those breeds.
Van Rooyen ´s criteria in breeding dogs were very simple:
A good dog was one which survived.- a bad one was one which did not.
Of the good ones, some would have stood out for their antagonism and courage to face lions and their speed, endurance agility and cunning in harrying them. By and large, the Khoikhoi dog crosses produced both ridges and hatred for lions. Whatever deliberate breeding program Nellis undertook to build on those features, performance came first – apperance, except as it influenced performance – a pooor second. His selection would have been based on and second to natural selectioon.
The breeds used by van Rooyen for breeding had some desirable and undesirable features.
CORNELIUS JOHANNES VAN ROOYEN (NELLIS)
There are of course many adjectives, which may be used to describe any person. Some appropriateto van Rooyen are: hunter, guide, wagon master, army scout, frontiman, expert horseman, rancher, explorer, collector of live wild animals, blacksmith, harness maker, veterinarian, transport rider, trader, wheelanimals, blacksmith, harness maker, veterinarian, transport rider, trader, wheelwright, carpenter, expert shot, modest, well liked, naturalist, multilingual, husband, father and breeder of a new breed dog.
He lived in a triling time in which the European powers divided up Africa. He knew some of the notable figures of his of any time – Lobengula Kruger, Grey, Randolf Churchill,
Dr.Jim and “the colossus” Rhodes .
He earned a living for 41 years in that most dangerous of occupattions, African hunting. He preceded the settlers, hunting and hearding in rough triangle from Pretoria to Victoria Falls to Umtali. He nursed his horses, cattle and dogs through outbreaks of horse sickness, sleeping sickness, redwater, rinderpest, anthrax, glanders, distemper,
CHARLES ROBERT EDMONDS
1900- Charles Robert Edmonds. He was a veterinarian from England. He arrived in Bulawayo about 1900 and served as goverment veterinarian there for many years. He knew Van Rooyen and knew and took an interest in his dogs. Thus, when interest was shown in 1922 in obtaining official recognition for the breed, Edmond was well qualified to comment and more than willing to do so. In the February 7- 1923 edition of the Farmer´s weekly , he published an article he called ” A Valuable hunting Breed of Unknown Origin: Strong Characteristics”. This article contains what appears to be the first attempt by anyone to propose a written standard for the breed. Because Edmond knew the breed well, what he wrote makes for interesting reading.
A TYPICAL YEAR OLD LION DOG c. 1923 C.R. Edmonds, Farmer´s Weekly, February 7, 1923)
Height – 24 inches at the shoulder
Weight – 60 lb
Colour – Tawny, fawn or brindle
Coat – short and hard
Tail – Longish and thick, free from feather and carried low
(Note: two breeders have advised the writer that considerable difficulty is experienced in the tail as at times varying lengths of tail occur in the same litter, some being only six to seven inches long like a docked dog, others with a kink like a Bulldog and others with long tails as described. I would ascribe this to the possible introduction of foreign blood at some time.)
Head – Rather broad, cheek muscles well developed. In shape resembles the old style of Bull Terrier
Muzzle – somewhat pointed
Ears – Low set
Eyes – Yellow, intelligent, with a bold, somewhat savage expression
Edmonds thus confirms van Rooyen´s statement in 1912 about bobbet tails. His specification of yellow eyes indicates perhaps either influence of the Khoikhoi dogs or the infusion of liver Pointers already noted. The height and weight he suggests indicate lean, agile animal. The coat and colour are, as Edmonds no doubt knew, ideal for camouflage and performance in the thorn and insect infested countrysideof Zimbabwe. Only the low set ears are suprising in view of the dog used at that time, although low set ears would be less prone to being ripped by tooth, claw, talon or thorn.
While Edmonds, so far as we know, was the first to propose a standard, another man would eventually write the standard which would become internationally accepted. His name was Francis Richard Barnes.
FRANCIS RICHARD BARNES
Barnes was born in the United Kingdom in 1875. He settled in Salisbury in mid-1890s. He helped to found the Salisbury Kennel Club soon thereafter, and was its secretary from 1898 to 1900. In 1902 he returned like Edmonds, to England where he married Isobelle Muncaster. Afterward he came back to Salisbury. He imported and breed Pointers, and judged at the first Salisbury K.C. show. He moved to Bulawayo about 1900, and thus was probably not a founding member of the Bulawayo Kennel Club which was formed in October 1909. However he soon became involved in the organization. In july 1910 he judged breeds but terriers, foxhounds and watchdogs at the first show put on by the BKC, and that year helped to found the Bulawayo Horticultural Society. In February 1911 he was elected to the roll off and on for several years.
In 1912 the farm Eskdale, near Figtree, which had been claimed by William Henry on Murch 14, 1896, two years after van Rooyen claimed Weltevreden, which was offered for sale. It is assumed that Barnes bought it, because by early 1913 he was farming at Figtree. The farm would remain in the family for decades, although Barnes may have maintained a residence in Bulawayo at various times. He continued to be active in the Bulawayo Kennel Club, even though Eskdale was 30-odd miles (50km) from Bulawayo. At the 1916 show he entered a smooth Fox Terrier and his wife Bulldog. Later that year he advertised a reward for the return of a lost Fox Terrier. At about this time, his interest in dogs was focusing on van Rooyen ´s ridged lion dogs.
Whether or not he knew van Rooyen is unclear, but in 1915 he acquired his first ridged dog Escdale Dingo, from Mr. C. Graham Stacey, who had obtained his stock from van Rooyen. Dingo thus joined Helm´s Lorna and Powder and van Rooyen´s FLAMand PISTOL as the first dogs whose names we know. Presumably Barnes was impressed with Dingo, because he obtained two more ridged dogs, Eskdale Connie from Bob Dickson and Eskdale Judy from Langham O´Keefe.
Thus Barnes obtained his first ridged dogs within weeks or months of van Rooyen ´s death. Whether Nellis breed Dingo or other two is uncertain, but he asseredly breed some of their ancestors.
Barnes continued to farm at Eskdale, to show dogs in Bulawayo and use his ridged dogs on the farm to protect his herds. Like the other ranchers of the time, he benefited from the high beef prices generated by the world war and the boom which followed it as soldiers returned to Zimbabwe and new, monied settlers arrived almost daily.
By the early 1920s, Barnes must have been a little torn in his interet in dogs. On the one hand, he was a serious ´fancier of purebreds, demonstrated by his involvement with the first two kennel clubs in the country over the preceding 24 years. On the other hand, he owned a number of outstanding ranch and hunting dogs which were mongrels by the definition of any recognized registry organization, and thus could not be shown, but which had common behaviour traits and at least one common physical trait – the ridge. Then as now there were two points of view about dog shows and, by and large, two tapes of dog fanciers – those who show and who believe that, in the long run, the best dogs win, and those who don´t show and believe that field performance is the only important criterion for excellence.
Both views have merit, a fact Barnes was sensible enough to realize. By 1922 he was ready to try to do what was necessary to preserve the breed and enable it to be shown – that is, to write a standard and get it accepted by the South Africa Kennnel Union- SAKU- now th Kennel Union of Southern Africa. Besides Edmonds, the man who provided the most help was Mr. B. W. Durham.
B. W. DURHAM
Durham like Barnes, was a show dog fancier. He lived in Salisbury, and was active in the kennel club and its shows there. He visited Bulawayo on busines several times in 1910 and 1911, and no doubt was a friend of Barnes. He judged at the Bulawayo Kennel Club show in 1913, and entered Bulldogs in that show and each show threafter for several years. He was a succesful exhibitor. His dogs, under the prefix ´Duneline´won several Bests In Show. He later went to become, at one point, the only Zimbabwean to be licenced as an all-breed judge by the SAKU.
Here, then, was a man who knew dogs and their history. He also knew standards, how they were interpreted by fanciers and judges, and some of the pitfalls involved in phrasing them. Next to Barnes, he would have the most influential role in the process undertaken to standardize the breed and get it officialy recognized.