Beagle-ing to Victory
You might say Ridenhour has a "ruff" life because he spends his free time with a bunch of fleabags chasing rabbits.
"I kind of compare it to bull riding. Everybody wants to see them almost get hurt but not quite," he said. "That's the way we are with the rabbits. We want to almost catch them but not catch them."
When it comes to almost catching critters, Ridenhour's beagles are ahead of the pack. This Belle breeder has collared so many trophies that he had to fetch a special place for them on his front porch. Ridenhour has hounded beagle shows and hunt championships all across the U.S.
"I think he'd rather run rabbits than just stand there and look pretty," he said about one of his dogs.
But, this year the United Kennel Club named one of Ridenhour's top dogs the best-looking beagle in the world.
"The structure of them is what they look like," he explained. "Some guys say it doesn't matter what a dog looks like as long as it performs well in the field. But if you put a pretty dog against an ugly dog and they're equal in the field, a guy's going to pick the pretty dog."
Ridenhour has about 20 beagles with a nose for rabbits.
"The first dog to find a rabbit gets 100 points," he said.
Ridenhour has even won a special tracking device.
He's a man with beagle blood. He and his wife own and operate the monthly American Beagler magazine, but his pet choice is a bit perplexing.
"I've got a poodle for a pet," Ridenhour admitted.
A beagle boarder with a penchant for poodles truly has an unusual dogma. Even so, when it comes to his true calling, Ridenhour said he'll never go astray.