“The Oklahoma Kid”
In 1951 after near 100 years of breeding gamedogs in the U.S.A. the breeding reached a peak. In Arizona a male named “Bouncer” was bred to a female called “Bambi” by a man called Ed Ritcheson. In the litter was a red dog with a deep blue black nose. This dog was bred from the Core of American bred gamedogs, he was raised and named by a black man from a pup. This dog was named “Dibo,” in the heart of Africa the word Dibo means “Devil.” In his pedigree were over 100 years of American bred gamedogs that had been proven in the pit, all his close family were the gamest bred in the world. Dibo and his close family was the product of this American breeding, his bloodline showed all the areas of the U.S.A. The American Gamedogs in Dibo’s pedigree were dogs that proved their gameness in the Core of the gamedog game in America. These gamedogs came into our nation near the mid 1800’s from Europe. Some of the gamedogs that were brought into our nation were of “outcross” breeding. When different pure families in England, Ireland, and Scotland were bred together in their nations, then imported into our nation and bred with either a pure or cross bred family, that were being “matched” into one another to prove which were the gamest families. Men like Cockney Charlie Lloyd imported pure family breeding, and “pure” English breeding and cross bred it with the English breeding here in our nation. These men match few dogs, but proved their breeding was of the gamest bred. In the days of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s Con Feeley who matched more dogs than any man in his time became the breeder of the different outcross English families that had been bred here in the U.S.A., Con bred a family of dogs from what he proved were the games dogs bred in the U.S.A. in his time. F.G. Henry imported some English red dogs and crossed them with the proven family of the Con Feeleys.
In the same days the English dogs were being matched, proven and bred, on the Northern coast of our nation. The Irish families were being done the same way in the area of the East Coast. J.P. Colby was a man that bred together different pure Irish game families with the Irish outcrosses that was being crossed together on the East Coast. A number of different men matched and proved the gameness of the breeding that were being bred at the “Core” of the “game.” In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the Irish dogs of outcross breeding, the ones that were proving themselves as the gamest bred, made it to Texas in the yard of Bill Shipley. Bill imported a pure Irish family from Ireland and crossed it with the crossbred family that had been bred in the U.S.A.
In the early 1900’s the next name to fill the shoes of the number one gamedog man of his time, and only a few men here in this new nation had wore these shoes, the last was Con Feeley from Illinois. But in 1908 Earl Tudor showed up in Oklahoma from Kentucky. Earl matched more dogs and proved his understanding of gameness more than any man in his time. He bred together the families of F.G. Henry to the families of Con Feeley. In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s Earl was proving his breeding the gamest bred. At that time he crossed the dogs of the purest that had been proven of the English breeding to the Irish families of Bill Shipley, 200 miles from him in Texas. This brought together the games dogs bred from the north and the gamest dogs bred from the East to near the center of the U.S.A. In the days of Earl Tudor when he proved his breeding the gamest bred, dogs from his breeding were being bred in most the States in the U.S.A., this was in the 1940’s. In the early 1950’s Earl Tudor was in Arizona looking at the breeding of the gamedogs, when he was taken to see the dog “Dibo.” Earl liked very much what he saw, and took the dog back to Oklahoma with him. At first he called this red dog “Runt,” but later he changed his name back to “Dibo.” Earl bred “Dibo” to a number of females bred from his family of dogs. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s Earl began to bring together a family of dogs breeding them “pure.” His dogs were different than any of the different families being bred in the U.S.A. The one’s from his families were the ones at the “Core” with most all the other breeding in the U.S.A. being of outcross breeding from Earl’s yard.
In the years of early 1960’s to the early 1970’s Earl bred his understanding of “American Gamedogs” into a family of dogs that all looked alike
In the early 1960’s to the late 1970’s we proved the gameness of more “American Gamedogs” than any man of our time at the “Core” of the game. (Before the game became against the “law.”) Today in the early 1980’s society around the world is seeking the gamest family of dogs bred in the world. Here in Texas on a mountain top beside a long creek we have bred from the “Core” a family of very “pure American Game bred dogs.” In the last number of years we have bred only a small number of dogs from this family. At this time when a number of nations are seeking the gamest family of dogs bred, it being the “American Gamedog,” it being “proven” in a number of nations matched into the different men’s understanding of gameness. At this same time “Paul Harvey” a newsman said, “in a nation today man is trying to prove a dog has a “spirit and soul” that goes to “heaven”. I am an outcross bred Texas man that has spent over 20 years looking into the insides of dogs, I am a believer the dogs house the “spirit and soul” of the devil, and is becoming man’s best friend. Here in the U.S.A. where the people of the most outcross breeding are born, we are the breeders of the gamest dogs bred in the world. Here in Texas where the most outcross bred people in the U.S.A. are raised, we breed a game family of American Gamedogs to the point of gameness that that only (3) kinds of people can bear to be around them. Those three kinds of people are people that feed them, and people like a “saint,” are a person with the faith of the devil himself. The ones like the “saint” the dogs will be scared of, and show fight along with the jump in his lap and lick him all over his face. But when a man of little faith looks eye to eye with this kind of game bred dog, the man become within great danger of this dog. But the dog will be scared of the ones more like saints and turn their heads away from them. I have watched many of these game bred dogs as they are looked in the eye of by a number of men we have met in our time with these dogs. I have looked also at the men when hey do the looking.
This story I write you seeker of gamedogs comes from my understanding of the research we have involved ourselves with in over the last near 25 years, of Gamedogs and Gamemen who I have been a lover of both. In my eyes the gamest man ever bred was our Lord Jesus. He being an outcross bred man of God and mankind and took his death on the cross other than tell one little lie. That is the faith and spirit of a gameman.
One Fall morning at sunrise in the year of 1961 we met Earl Tudor at his home in Oklahoma. We had with us a nice bred female bred from his family of dogs. We came to meet him and talk to him about breeding the female. We did a lot of talking and bred the female, then drove the near 250 miles back home in Texas. Within the next number of years we made the trip to Earl’s place many times. On one trip I remember sitting on a couch with Earl as he had bad eyes and always wanted me to sit close so he could look me in the eyes when we talked. We most always talked about breeding, as we sat talking, trying to stare each other down. We had our own ways of understanding conditions and taught each other what we had done, and were doing. But when it came time to talk about breeding I only asked questions. I remember one time Earl who was in his mid 60’s about that time, broke down in tears and cried like a bay as he told me, “these damn so called friends of one dog deal or another who steal the credit of every dog bred, never gave me one damn bit of credit for “my dogs.” Then he would wipe the tears from his eyes, put his glasses back on, get in my face and say; it’s all in the “breeding” Don, it’s all in the “breeding.” Then he would tell dogs and others, he would tell me about the breeding of those dogs as the pure ones, the family bred dogs, not the cross ones, the pure ones. Then I would say Earl, what was the best ones that you had, he would cock his head, and his wife Flo would speak up and say, “the best dogs Earl had were the old Henry dogs, you never lost a match with a Henry dog did you Earl???” and Earl with a smile on his face would say; “You’re right Flo, the dogs of old man Henry’s family were the red eyed dogs and were game to the core.” He would say to me, “The eyes were as red as a coon’s eyes, they had a big mouth with a lot of muscle in the head, most were black, but some were white, and some were red rednose dogs.” He said all the Henry dogs could bite hard and were very wild to work and handle. And like the preacher man from Oklahoma he would scream like a cat in the middle of the night, get down on the floor on his knees and say they were deep game dogs, bred of the English breeding. I set there on the couch like a red headed stranger thinking don’t cross him, don’t boss him, he’s wild in his sorrow he’s ridden and hidden his pain. He would then get in his place and say, “they were good ones, Don.” He was like a wild black stallion, and his wife, Flo, was as frail as a bay. His love for the gamedogs was like a mountain so big, and for hours we set and talked on and on. He would speak up like the bright lights of Denver of 10 thousand jewels in the sky when he talked, looking me straight in the eyes. He said, “if only I could call back the days when it was nobody’s business where you’re going, or where you come from.” Then, he would ell me about “Dibo,” “Demon,” Black Jack jr. and his sire, and dam. He would say to me, “Don, in the 20’s here in Oklahoma times were hard to survive, we fought dogs and cocks to survive. In the 30’s the men still took an Indian squaw anytime they cared for one. Then in the days the winds came and blowed for 7 years it took two feet, to three feet of top soil from the farm land of the Irish race of people. And in those days when the Irish race in Oklahoma could not survive in the “Grapes of Wrath” they picked up and moved to California to become the farmers of the world.In those days we had three “pits” on our place, we fought cocks and a few dogs each week for a number of years. He would then tell me, he had been shot 6 different times by 6 different men, and never once went to the hospital, the doctor came to his house. Once his brother-in-law shot him and they never called the doctor, as Flo dressed the hole where it went in, and the hole where it came out. He said; “In those days we kept 7 dogs close to ready at all times, they were matched in one week’s time.” He said I would run in the fields with my dogs, in those days, there were no fences to cross just open land. He said; We had a mound built of sand with a chair that turned all the way around. We kept 7 dogs staked around the chair, I had a long fishing pole with a tail tied on a line. We would go from dog to dog for two or three with one working while the others worked the coontail. Earl then said we never had a tread mill in those days, if we had one we wouldn’t use it. The catmill was the best to work a dog on and I would say, “yes Earl I know, I have one in my yard,” and then he’d look me in the eyes and say, tell me the way you work ‘em, and I would start to talk telling him each and every thing we did as his eyes started to shine like saying, stay a little longer. As I talked on he would move quick with his head high saying that’s right that’s right. And as the stories were told over the years on his couch, we always ended in talking about “breeding,” as he would say; “The Irish dogs were also deep game dogs.” He would tell me about the different pure breeding of the different families. Then, the tears would come with shakes, and the cry of agony as he looked me in the eyes and said, “these damn so called friends never gave me one bit of credit for my family of dogs, those big shots Shipley and Feeley they got all the credit. Earl always called Bill Shipley the “Big Shot.” He sent his female Flash with a black man to be bred to Red Jerry. He would tell his black friend just what the dog looked like to breed the female to. He would then laugh like and angel flying too close to the ground, he would speak up and say, it was the English dogs Don, you can hear these know it alls talk about the Irish dogs and they were good ones, but the English dogs was where it was at. Red eyed dogs as red as a ruby. Wild to go very hot dogs that would eat up a person, and Flo would speak up and say “Lord yes,” as she pulled up her long cotton dress to her knees and pulled her knee socks down to her ankles to show her scars from dog bites. Earl then laughed and said Flo got bit two or three times trying to part some that would break loose when I weren’t here. I got where I told her to stay in the house and let them fight to the death. So she don’t get bit no more. She would speak up and say; Phyllis those Henry dogs had a big mouth and you had to beat them in the head with a piece of iron to get them to turn loose. Earl would say, “Ya’ll she’s telling you the truth, she’d have a iron bar or hammer in her hand and if one got on her she’d beat it in the head and kill it. Then he would say she’s a sweet little old thing ain’t she, I don’t know how I could have ever made it without her. Flo was a slip 5 ft., 3 in. small woman of near 90 lbs. Earl being a small man, in his prime 117 lbs. with gloves on. He said he would have been a fighter if he had not got shot in the belly one time. As he said Bert was the stronger fighter of us two, but I was like the sun from over the mountain with a sunlight that dances on your skin, but Bert he did me wrong and I never him. And we would talk on about breeding. Earl carried the famous name of “Tudor,” the famous King’s who went by the names of Henry the First, and so on, in Europe.
In the 1400’s in England the way was open for the only surviving Lancastrian with strength to take and keep the throne. Henry Tudor was a descendent of John Tudor of Gaunt. He had spent half his life in Wales, the rest on the Continent. Urged to intervene, he found Welsh forces eager to join him when he landed at Milford Haven, and led them on into England. King Richard met them outside Market Bosworth, near Leicester, on 22nd of August 1485. The first battle was the gamebred “wardogs.” The royal army was larger but fought with less conviction. Many nolles on whom Richard was relying had already decided to defect. Richard himself fought bravely, but was accorded little respect for this after his death. The crown of England found in a bush was placed on Henry Tudors head, and the corpse of the dead King was stripped naked, tossed across a horse, and carried unceremoniously to Leicester. The last of the Plantagenets was gone. The stage was set for the “Tudors.” The mark of the Tudors were the dog and the dragon.
Earl never told me he was from the English Tudor family, but he had the same little beadie eyes as the pictures of the Tudors of England. He had the courage of a line of Kings that would get in your face the last days of his life that came in 1977. Earl became a hard man to be around the last year or two of his life from the hate he had within, he kept a pistol in his pocket from sunup to sundown, and did a lot of crying the last years of his life. He told me stories about bad men he knew who always stopped and visited him as they came through east of the Texas Panhandle in Western Oklahoma where the rocks peer out of the ground in rows as if they had been planted. Poor land that at this time is too poor to grow weeds. He told me about a time he spent in court as they tried him for murder. He told me stories about life and gamedogs that can only be told in a “Book.”
Earl Tudor was a man that liked all of us that kept only two kinds of dogs. Those he liked, and those given to him by a friend. He started breeding his family of dogs in 1908 after being around them all his boyhood life. His first dog to match was a Henry bred dog called “Jack Swift.” He bred him to a Henry bitch called “Black Star” and produced a dog called “Judge,” and he went to trial for 60 years proving his value of truth and understanding of breeding to be unbeatable over the years. It was like a whiskey river that never went dry in most of Earl’s grown life. He was the town bootlegger and his friend Jim Williams was the law. Jim always bred his females at Earl’s house and it was Jim Williams who led Earl’s last stud dog out of his yard. Jim and Earl lived 19 miles from south to north from one another, on the same road. They were just another sample of two friends that had come to the point of hating each other from their many dog deals, but were friends to the end of them both. Earl would say of Jim, “that no good old popper hanging dogpeddler” and Jim would say “I don’t know why Earl talks to bad of me.” Jim could come and deal dogs with Earl all his life and he did. Earl would say about his life as a bootlegger and the “law”, that he never gave as much as a cigarette to, and he was never busted in his many years. And Jim he would tell how he would call Earl and tell him to close shop till the state men left town, each time the state men came to town to try and bust a bootlegger. Earl knew people like Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, Frank Nash who was raised just a few miles from Earls in what was then called the Bad Land of Oklahoma when survival of life was hard, but like a Oklahoma preacher Earl climbed high on his mountain and screamed like a cat, after walking from Kentucky when a young boy rode in a wagon pulled by oxen. But like a red headed stranger that rode into red rock on a black stallion he made his mark ion the world of life and gamedogs. And like he said you can’t hang a man for killing a woman who’s stealing your horse. And out on the edge of life is where Earl lived in the Badlands of Oklahoma. He told me one time he won 24 matches in 24 months, he said; “Hell there ain’t nobody that can win 24 straight fair, not even me, as he would laugh, and give me a fake right and left to the jaw. He was like the sun from over the mountain top dancing on your skin. And like a light house that stands alone Earl traveled down the roads of life in and around Oklahoma. At one time he had over 100 gamedogs and 200 cocks. He made his own cock spears from bed springs. But the gamedogs was his love from the hate he had within of men.
The game we as men play when seeking the gamest dogs bred, is in life as seeking t hat true friend, after the man deals in life where men are having a hard time to survive in land that is called “bad.” As Earl cried out in pain from his butchered body as he lived one day at a time. He told me so many stories with so many different dogs names, we talked for days. He lived by the graveyard where his folks lay to their amazing grace, as he too lay there to rest. But at the time of God’s grace we will all arise and be counted for, as I can sometime hear his voice and spirit saying “go for it Don.” “Go for it.” It was like take this job and shove it I’ll make it my way and he did, but I tell you for sure his last years were as hard as any I have seen. He told me, he said Don; “If a man told me could win over my dogs I would tell him I would beat him within so much time and he did.” He told me; “one time we were matched into the “Big Shot.” Shipley and his friends came down with an old timer a month before he died of old age. His name was Frumble of Arkansas. He was a good old man, I told him after the dogs met, bet your money it don’t go 20 minutes. And at 18 minutes the “Big Shot’s” dog fell dead in the center of the pit, and old man Frumble was the only man there that seen what I did, he shaked my hand and told me how glad he was to get to meet the “Oklahoma Kid” before he died, he just hugged my neck and left, and sad I seen what you did, I seen. And Earl just laughed and said he was one hell of a man he was, one hell of a man. He then stood up then he set back down. And told me each time we visited many dog stories of too many different dog names to tell about at this time. Earl bred the Henry dogs as pure as he could an crossed it with the Feeley and Shipley families from his understanding of what he had seen in the different matches of his life. “Dibo” was a dog bred of 41 years of Earl’s life. In the pedigree of Dibo for 8 generations the three men whose names show up the most, was Earl Tudor of Oklahoma 39 times, Con Feeley of Illinois, 36 times, Bill Shipley of Texas, 24 times. Compared to those three men the others in the pedigree of Dibo were gamedog feeders. Those three men were at the Core of the game where only the truth was. The female Gordons “Red Lady” was an American bred female where Tudors name showed up 38 times in her pedigree. When Earl bred Dibo to Red Lady his name showed in their offsprings Jeff, Spike, & Buck 77 times. In the pedigree of Black Widow, Earl Tudors name shows 69 times. When he bred Spike to Black Widow his name showed in the pedigree of Baby 146 times. He thenbred Spikes brother Jeff to Baby, and produced “Nigger” his last and purest family bred stud dog. His name appeared in Nigger’s pedigree 223 times. He then bred Nigger to his sister and produced one lone female called “Spookie,” and his name appeared in her pedigree 446 times. Those two American Gamedogs were the purest bred of Earl Tudors understanding of the game he had played near 67 years of his life. And at this time after he is dead and gone there is still some of his so called friends trying to take his credit of breeding.
A Breeder of American Gamedogs
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!”