With other dogs, petting or stroking the fur means moving the hand in a motion that leads toward the dog's haunches. With the Rhodesian Ridgeback, the swath of hair along the spine grows in a hip to shoulder direction. This makes the breed the only dog that a person gets to pet backwards. This has been a great conversation starter for many Ridgeback owners. The out of the ordinary trait also gives the dog a special appeal when working in therapeutic settings. Many patients find it easier to relax and focus when petting the unique dog in such a unique matter.
When keepers in the Belgrade Zoo discovered that a mother panther in their care was in the habit of killing her offspring, there was a bit of a question as to what could be done with the newest cub. A Rhodesian Ridgeback came to the rescue for baby Milica and nursed the infant to health after the mother refused. Having just whelped her own litter, the Ridgeback openly welcomed the infant as one of her own. Many would not believe this behavior could come from such an aloof breed but the fact is Ridgebacks are highly sensitive and always in tune to the needs of others.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an extremely loyal companion but the breed also earns loyalty from its owners as well. It has been reported that superstar Kylie Minogue traveled over four hundred miles on a frequent basis to walk her dog Sheeba, a Rhodesian Ridgeback she shared with her ex Olivier Martinez. Even though the couple was no longer together they agreed to establish visiting rights for Minogue. As the famous singer traveled on the road to health during a battle with cancer, she felt walks with the dog helped during chemotherapy treatments. Minogue is currently cancer free and still traveling four hundred and twenty miles to take walks with her beloved Sheeba.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is often referred to as The Silent Dog. They have a resounding bark that can very much frighten an intruder but very rarely use it unless and until they know for sure an occasion merits a warning. At the same time, the webbed paws that helped them maneuver on African sands are what also allow them to creep very silently over other surfaces. When chasing down quarry in the field, this trait helped the Ridgeback get very close to their prey before springing into a blink of an eye sprint. Many owners report getting an unexpected shock when their Ridgeback suddenly shows up behind them or at their side when they least expect it. The Ridgeback's size belies the fact that an animal so large could move with nary a sound.