An Eye For a Good Dog by Ralph Greenwood
Defined as a remarkable knack for recognition of qualities embodied in an individual canine animal. Some people obtain the knowledge through years of experience, some by association with mentors of a breed and some are just gifted naturally. Jim Culbertson identifies with the latter, as Al Brown’s pilgrim caught the eye of Jim the first time he visited Al at his home in Phoenix, Arizona in 1981.
Although most of the fanciers identify Jim with the IRONWORKER logo and producer of high quality treadmills, his success in breeding the American Pit Bull Terrier throughout the years is equally recognized. Many hours spent on that front porch with Al lending advice on this and that, made forenjoyable time spent with an old dogman.
Jim received his first bulldog when he moved to Phoenix in the summer of 1977. As far as bloodlines goes, all he knew of the dog was that it had UKC purple ribbon papers. Later it was made known to him that the pups uncle, was a notable dog, Kramer’s “mac”. The pup was stolen when he was six months old. It was then that a friend of Jim’s told him that he knew of an old bulldog man named Al Brown and maybe he could get a pup from him. Little did Jim know what he was in for. A new way of life with the American Pit Bull Terrier.
It was the pistol/mss spike, Carver bloodlines through pilgrim, that Jim settled on. Jim relates, “The first time I saw the dog I fell in love with him. Not just the bloodline, but the dog itself.” Jim recognized the pistol/miss spike, blood was thick behind pilgrim.
In the late 70’s, Al had purchased pilgrim to reek havoc on the locals and to offer him at stud. According to Mr. Reuvers, there were only four male pups in pilgrim’s litter. One hung itself while in Mr. Reuversyard, the Fowler’s in Missouri got one, Mr.Reuvers kept another, and pilgrim went to Arizona. That name was chosen for the dog by Al, as he didn’t like the given name of the dog, although the dog had never been registered in any association. Since it was a traveler, he named him pilgrim. The dog loved children, would breed a standing female, but look out if a male got within his space. He was a true bulldog and one that dreams are made of. Jim’s association with the dogs at that time was always under the guidance of Al’s friendship.
Under Leo and Rick’s watchful eyes, he sired many good dogs. His reputation as a producer came under the name of Bice’s “44.” The blood behind him clicked with just about anything down from Lloyd’s “gator” that Rick was owner of.Leo Bice and Rick Sorrells then bought the dog from Al, and after having his background verified, registered pilgrim into the ADBA under the new name of Bice’s “44.”
Several years later, Leo showed up at Jim’s place in Phoenix with Bice’s “44.” He traveled in his old Ford pickup and asked, “Jim, how would you like to have this dog,?” Jim told Leo that anyone would love to own a dog like him. Leo said, “I’m not asking anyone, I’m asking you.” Jim said, “Leo, I could never afford to buy him.” Leo then asked Jim if he still had his old Remington 870 12 gauge. When Jim said yes, Leo said he’d take the ol’ shotgun in trade. Leo had already made up his mind that he was leaving the dog in Jim’s yard because he even brought his doghouse with him that had the vented back wall.
The dog was still called pilgrim by Jim as this was the name he had always known him by, and was bred outside of Jim’s yard twice. Once to a guy up in Prescott Arizona and once to a bitch, Jarrett’s “streaker” owned by a man in southern Arizona. He never heard how these pups turned out as he lost touch with the men.
Jim bred him to a double inbred daughter of the old Mason’s “Hog” that came by the way of Mr. Martinez of California. That bitch died in a kennel accident carrying a belly full of pups. That breeding would have been “mighty interesting.”
The job market in the Phoenix area for union ironworkers turned sour, so Jim headed up to San Francisco to find work. He traveled in his old CJ-7 with pilgrim riding shotgun. Jim got work and stayed up there for about a year. During that time his dog took to sun bathing on top of his doghouse, so in kindness, Jim started putting his feed pan up there. Jim’s well meaning act in his eyes was the demise of the old dog and he blames himself every day. Jim’s fault? Who knows, but one evening after scratching the old dogs head and feeding him up on top of his dog house, Jim went back inside to eat his own dinner. When he came back out to clean up any messes, Jim saw pilgrim hanging off the side of the doghouse. Seems the chain got hung up on a nail and the dog was dead. That sight still pains Jim to this day; the dog was only eight years old. He is buried just back from a beach in San Francisco bay just outside San Matao, California.
Leo and Rick sold many of their dogs to R. Duhon of La. A bitch named “penny” was one of the bunch. She was by Bice’s “44” (pilgrim) out of R. Sorrells bitch “baby”. Jim knew of the dog and drove down to theDuhon yard in an attempt to buy her. Jim missed getting “penny” by one day. Mr. Duhon had sold her to some men from Arkansas. Jim spent many years tracing the known offspring and acquiring those he could as he continued his life in the dogs throughout these many years.
I hope you enjoy this tale about a noteworthy dog, known as Al Brown’s pilgrim and his more well known reputation as Bice’s “44”.
“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort”
…Herm Albright (1876-1944)