Andre Giroux was a French Canadian who showed Americans that we did not have the monopoly on game bred American Bull Terriers. He is kown as, and definitly was, a top handler, conditioner, and match maker. I feel that his greatest talent was the ability to know which dogs to use for breeding and how to most effectively cross them. He was similar to one of his peers, Maurice Carver, in the respect of producing some of the best American Gamedogs of his time, although Andre lived in Montreal, Canada his entire life. Andre found good dogs where he could, was extremely selective on individuals, but he never became overly focused on one bloodline.
Andre culed or lost testing what most dogmen would have used for a foundation. He owned some of the best, then defeated the rest. While I was still a novice, Andre versed me on how in order to be successful in the dog game that I must learn to keep my heart in my wallet. He versed me on other ideologies regarding the dog game during our many conversations about the breeding, schooling, and training of American Gamedogs, and as to the importance of tending to a dog’s mental well being.
Those bits of advice still carry the same impact as I continue to learn as I go along. The reason that most of his lineage has not continued as most had expected is that many people were mating a pair solely because the name Giroux appeared on the pedigree. Giroux was clever enough not to limit his focus on an ego tunnel, but instead on a realistic objective promoting world wide success amid one of the most enigmatic of sports. Such is a practice that Andre almost never allowed himself to slip into, but one of his instincts did directly backfire on a large scale. The exception was when Andre stopped a brother to Brousseau’s Ch.Ben named Gunner Jr., which was sired by Ch.GunnerROM, and out of Giroux’ Bonnie in a roll while not fully matured but matched him anyway because of his punishing mouth.
Ch.Gunner Jr. won 4 and then was used for stud by many Canadian enthusiasts only to find that he was throwing mostly hard mouthed curs. Gunner Jr. was the dog Andre rolled against his recently purchased aging, retired stud from Patrick, GrCh.Hank. After 20 minutes with Jr., Hank was for sale again and was fortunately purchased by Captain America to be used with much success, just as the Californians were enjoying with the Hank blood through Ch.Little BootsROM and GrCh.Double Trouble. Captain America reached the pinnacle of his breeding program when a son of Hanks named Sir Douglas was put over his Alexis bitch, resulting with Captain America’s GrCh.King Arther that won his final outing as game as the game ones come by winning a war over PSK of NY’s Assassin at 41.5lbs.
Danny “Tattoo” Powell was a protege of Giroux and he seemed to be the only man beside of Alan Waldman, Louis Vinagro, James Crenshaw and Camp who knew how to successfully continue to propagate the Giroux lineage by keeping a mixture of the old Trahan’s Ch.Rascal and Carver’s Black Widow blood through Ch.Gunner over the Tudor stock through either Maloney’s Davis or GrCh.Hank. Danny Powell purchased one of the best sons of Giroux’ Trip, named Ch.Rocky that was a dog winning 2 mathces in one night, back to back, though the 2nd was not counted as a legitimate win. The other Ace Tattoo aquiredfrom Giroux’ wife, Lise, was Ch. Our Gal Sunday, one of the hardest bitches of modern times as she won all of her matches while never passing the 21 minute mark.
Andre phoned me a few times over the years to fill me in on the progress of his dogs and to ask about mine. Once was when Andre unfolded a story about how the old Bear dog which he purchased from Joe Orday came up missing. Andre told me that he found out who had stolen his old stud, and took a drive to see if what he had heard was true. After looking in the man’s backyard he walked to the front door and politely knocked. As the man opened the door asking “Yeah, what do you want?” Andre answered with 3 spent .38 caliber cartridges. He then calmly walked into the backyard again to get his dog, and went back home. Serious charges were pending an investigation, but Andre justly walked away from that mess with out doing any time.
Although Andre lived in the city, in an apartment building with virtually no yard to speak of, he never had a dog stoeln from him gain. In fact when people moved into his apartment building, he would farm out a pup to them as he had with his other tenants so they could raise it for him. Imagine if that man owned acreage. We may still be reading and talking of his dogs today.
by F. Rocca
Mr John P Colby was an active breeder for many years and produced some of the best dogs of his time. Much of his foundation stock was from the Gas House and Burke strains, as were the dogs of many other breeders. The difference in the quality of the dogs Mr Colby produced was the result of breeding principles he employed. Also, Mr Colby in my opinion possessed a very important attribute, which I refer to as a gift.
Mr Colby practised a simplified version of genetics, Best to Best, selective breeding
Pictured is John P. Colby Age 20.
Best to Best does not mean performing dogs alone. It entails all aspects of the dogs, from performance to pedigree. The most obvious qualities would be gameness, biting power, talent, stamina and a great bloodline. A bloodline is the result of a breeders influence.
Over the years dogs bred by Mr Colby began to exhibit physical and mental characteristics such as conformation, colour and gameness which distinguished them. These dogs were then referred to as Colby Dogs. Thus we have the Colby Bloodline. People were proud to say, “This here is a pure Colby dog”. This sounds simple; and it leads people to ask; why there were not more top breeders? I believe deciding on what is Best to Best is the key.
I’m not sure that every dog Mr Colby bred to was Dead game; and I’m equally sure he did not breed to every Dead game dog he owned. This is where the gift comes in. It seems to be an in-born sense or ability. I believe most outstanding accomplishments have been made by men who were endowed with a gift for their respective fields.
I do not believe that man knows enough about genetics at this time to produce great animals; and he most certainly didn’t know enough in the days of Mr Colby. Race horse people spend millions of dollars a year, trying to produce great horses, with only marginal success. Similarly, there is no pattern for producing Great dogs.
FriendsThe most essential qualities a breeder may possess are; dedication, a gift, a knowledge of Best to Best, and money might come in handy. If a breeder combines these attributes he is likely to produce, with luck, a great strain of dogs.It doesn’t take too much effort to recall the great Colby dogs of the past. These dogs were bred from the pit and for the pit.
But all of this brings us to a very important question; When a strain of dogs that were once highly regarded, such as Colby’s, stops producing consistently good pit dogs, is this strain still to be considered good? I have heard people say, “I know he’s a cur, but the blood is there”. While this is true in many cases, I wonder how long we can continue to breed to curs and hope to produce game pit dogs.
What is good blood and how long will it remain good if we continue to breed to dogs, who do not possess the qualities of their ancestors? While great breeders can breed to dogs who themselves do not exhibit good qualities; can the average breeder afford to take this gamble?
I have seen strains of dogs that have not produced dogs fitting this description for many years, and people who are active in the sport refer to them as good blood or good brood stock. Many seem to proceed under the assumption, that once a bloodline is good it remains good forever. Many well-meaning people have continued to breed Colby dogs exclusively, thinking all that was necessary to preserve the quality of the strain, was to breed to a dog that had the name Colby on his pedigree.
Pictured is Colby’s Jerry 1900.
I believe that we have to continuously strive to improve the strain, in order to keep it as good as it was or is. It’s an accepted theory, that in order for an institution to continue, it must change and continuously seek to improve. To preserve a bloodline, there is more required than just breeding to dogs whose pedigree shows a particular name. Change is required in order to prevent change in the quality of dogs produced. The Colby strain was developed by change.
FriendsI have heard people say, that the dogs of yesteryear were gamer than those of today. Could it be, in some cases, because we have tried to play Pat and in doing so have lost ground. The people that have bred Colby dogs exclusively for these many years, thinking they were doing what was best, have perhaps underestimated their own ability to breed good dogs.Many of them have bred dogs for 40 years or more and could have perhaps contributed much more to their own dogs, by using their own ideas and experience. New ideas are necessary in every field. Sports records are consistently surpassed by those not satisfied with repeating someone else’s past performance. Last year’s record won’t win this year’s meet.
Were the dogs of yesteryear really superior? I’m sure many dog men of the past would think we have it too easy, because we don’t have to grow secret vegetables and cook our dog’s food or boil their water. Penicillin has replaced many old remedies, making better dog care possible. I have read some diets that top dog men used. While some were good, none could compete with any good commercial dog food available in countless supermarkets. The poorest feeder today is able to provide better nutrition than the best feeder of yesteryear. We also have refrigeration and other conveniences.
It is not my intention to criticise old-timers and their methods. How many of us would be feeding as many dogs if we had to cope with the same adverse conditions? I think our mission however, is to pick up where they left off, emulating their objectives rather than their methods. The Colby dogs of the past, fit the description of good blood, as their pit records indicate. The Colby strain was developed on the principle of Best to Best. When that principle is no longer employed there is bound to be a drastic change in quality. In a very short period of time a great strain of dogs can be reduced to a strain that can do no more than refer to their pedigree and say “My great, great, grand-daddy was a pit dog….I think!