A Son of Zebo
A son of Zebo, McGee’s Panther, a good story of the Lonzo Line, Zebo-Vindicator
In my last article titled Greenwood’s DELTA, I wrote about the strategy my brother and I used in obtaining good bulldogs. Part of that strategy involved purchasing puppies from repeat breedings that had already produced pit winners. Baker Davis’ MIDNIGHT COWBOY (BULLYSON x Long’s BABY) had produced winners when bred to his niece Hand’s CANDY who was sired by CHIVO out of PIGGY. MIDNIGHT COWBOY was the first bulldog to be judged “Best in Show” in all of his matches. His brother CHIVO won Best in Show in 2 of his 3 wins. We purchased a bitch puppy from the MIDNIGHT COWBOY x CANDY breeding and named her SEA TRAIN after a popular rock band. While still a puppy SEATRAIN was sold to S.T.P. Kennels who raised her to maturity.
At that time I was breeding ZEBO and VINDICATOR dogs and this line was producing pit winners. ZEBO had already sired Stinson’s RUBY, Stepp’s WILLIE and Nelson’s ZIPPER, who were big league match dogs. Those three completed their championships and were joined by Fitch’s DIAMOND JIM who was the 4th champion sired by ZEBO. There were many more, on and two time winners, sired by ZEBO who were exceptional pit dogs. I was convinced that ZEBO was the next BULLYSON and encouraged everyone to breed this line.
My brother had obtained ZEBO’s sister, ROSIE and had a litter of pups off her bred to Devine’s BRUCE. Around this time STP phoned wanting some ideas about how to breed SEATRAIN. I was flattered that STP, ho was heck of a dogman would solicit my opinion. It was no suprise when I recommended ZEBO as a stud dog. STP bred SEATRAIN to ZEBO and sold a bitch puppy to Tar Heel Matt who named her MARGIE. It was MARGIE who whelped Tar Heel Matt’s PANTHER, ONE OF THE HARDEST MOUTH BULLDOGS FROM THIS STRAIN.
Tarheel Matt and I were not aware of each other, but we attended a get together, out in the Appalachian Mountains. Super Gnat and Tyree were matching bitches at 39lbs., and they put on an action packed show. Both bitches were said to be sired by ZEBO, which reinforced my view that ZEBO dogs were the best match dogs. Tar Hell Matt was similarly impressed and had also decided to breed ZEBO dogs. Super Gnat’s bitch won and to this day, SUPER GNAT’S BULLDOGS CONTINUE TO EXCEL. (EVEN IN 99) They are bred down from that bitch, Stinson’s RUBY, Stepp’s WILLIE, Stepp’s ANGUS and Stepp’s CHARLIE (JEEP’s bro) so ZEBO’s influence is still prominent Tar Hell Matt’s MARGIE was a calm, exceptionally intelligent, bitch who ended up as the pet of Matt’s father. MARGIE lived the good life often riding in the back of the family sedan with Matt’s dad at the wheel. It appeared as if MARGIE had her own chauffeur.
MARGIE had no interest in combat and would be considered “cold”. It was like fighting was not dignified, so MARGIE left that activity for her sons who excelled in this area. The bond between Matt’s dad and MARGIE was such, that when Matt’s dad required hospitalization, his first concern was about MARGIE’S care. MARGIE never fully recovered from his last hospitalization. She refused to eat and continued to grieve over her master’s absence. This combined with advancing years finally claimed MARGIES life.
During her younger years, MARGIE whelped two litters sired by Tar Heel Matt’s MONZON, who had won TWO MATCHES. PANTHER was whelped in the 2nd litter. MONZON, named after the great middle weight boxing champion, was a good individual and a close cousin to ZEBO. Lonzo’s MIKE was MONZON’s sire and a winner of TWO contract matches, one of which was against the combined effort’s of MAURICE CARVER, LEO KINARD AND DON MAYFIELD. MONZON’S dam was also a two time pit winner named Rick’s THISLE who was BIGBOY and BULLYSON breeding. BIG BOY was a 3x winning uncle to ZEBO and a devastating bulldog. Both MIKE and THISTLE were well known for their biting ability.
After a number of years of breeding and matching ZEBO dogs, my enthusiasm for this strain was considerably diminished. While the majority had exceptional ability, they were short winded and lacked deep gameness. I attempted to add other strains like BULLYSON and BOOMERANG to the ZEBO stock in an effort to correct the deficiencies inherent in the line.
Several top bulldogs like StBenedict’s DYLAN, Stiltner’s LAVERNE and Gregory’s BUZZ represented the best of my breeding efforts during this time. However the vast majority of my ZEBO dogs were not up to the level of DYLAN. It was heartbreaking and expensive to raise 30 pups to maturity and not produce one good match dog. So I moved away from the ZEBO line and worked with other strains.
Tar Heel Matt had some good bulldogs from the first MONZON x MARGIE breeding, so he repeated the breeding and produced several more pit winners. Some of these were WILLIE, BILLY 1xW, BONNIE, 1xW, JIMMY (stopped Ch SPIKE), CARLOS 1xW, 1xL, and MONZON JR.
When I received a phone call from Matt about PANTEHR, I was excited and skeptical. PANTHER had been sold as a puppy and did not develop a dislike for dogs until he was over three years old. PANTHER got in a fight with a German Shepherd and was returned to Matt. Matt had a good eye for the bulldogs and recognized that PANTHER was no “run of the mill” bulldog after a couple of rolls. I had developed a reputation as a conditioner and handler and Matt wanted to know if I’d be interested in matching PANTHER. Matt had complete confidence in panther and said I could roll the dog and match him at his best weight. Since I had been disappointed by ZEBO dogs a number of times, I rolled PANTHER and he showed me the Matt’s assessment was accurate. The dog could bite like a vise and would scratch when he was so heated, he could barely stand. In addition to being a top match dog, PANTHER was very gentle and quite intelligent. He loved nothing more than to lay upside down in my lap on the living room couch as I watched RV Of all the bulldogs I had conditioned, the only one my girlfriend liked was PANTHER.
I put PANTHER’S weight out at 55lbs. and after a wait, BOSS HOG picked it up. PANTHER was not a true 55lb dog, but I wanted to leave an extra lb. or two in him due to his phenomenal mouth. We were set to go at 5 am, with both of us traveling to the match site. It is critical for a hard biter to be on their feet and moving forward to be effective, just as a boxer deliver his hardest punches in a similar situation.
PANTHER’s “keep” focused on strength training which is different than the standard endurance training utilized in most keeps. My plan was to start PANTHER with low intensity, long duration work, and gradually build up to high intensity, short duration work. Since PANTHER’s style was the explosive “win in ten minutes” type, he would be ready to come out “smoking” as soon as the ref said “release” PANTHER was basically an easy going bulldog and he became bored with the long walks. To spark PANTHER’S interest, I took a year old bitch named JERSY GIRL, who would run loose, while PANTHER went through his work outs, and PANTHER enjoyed her company. At the latter stages of the keep, PANTHER went through a high intensity drill called the chicken race. During this drill, PANTHER would drag heavy chains in an effort to catch my pet rooster named Fred. I would tuck Fred under my arm like a football and run ahead of PANTHER who would do his best to keep us with us. If PANTHER slowed down, I would run back and encourage him to pull harder. During one workout, a rabbit jumped out infront of PANTHER, and he showed suprising head speed for such a big dog. PANTHER seized the rabbit and bolted it down in a couple seconds. This left me feeling rather useless as I stood ten yards away, rooster in hand.
Just like all my match dogs, PANTHER was free of intestinal parasites as well as external parasites like fleas and ticks. I made sure that PANTHER’S ears were absolutely clean, because any opponent was certain to grab the ears in an effort to hold out this hard charging dog. During the last three weeks I got up at 5 am every morning to get PANTHER accustomed to hard work at that hour. Since bulldogs are creatures of habit just like us, it was critical that PANTHER be at match weight and rearing to go at 5 am.
At the end of the keep I deviated from my normal routine. Normally, I drive directly to the match site with my bulldog rather than drive out a day before the match and get a room at a motel. This time I drove out to Matt’s place and put PANTHER back on his old chain. He felt great and spent most of the night running his chain burning up his energy reserves. The next morning I got early to check on him I was shocked to find that he was 2 lbs. under the contract weight and he had not taken his morning bowel movement. It was still several hours until match time and I decided to gamble, by feeding PANTHER complex carbohydrates. I also kept PANTHER with me so he’d calm down, rest quietly and hopefully build up his depleted energy reserves. My gamble paid off since Boss Hog requested additional time so he could get his dog to defecate. I readily agreed to this request, because it gave PANTHER an opportunity to rest and digest his last feeding.
Matt wisely selected a flat low area in a river valley as a match site. Since heat rises this area would still be cool at daybreak. Gusto and Squeky were in attendance along with a number of people who were familiar with PANTHER. BOSS HOGG came with a large boned , white in color, REDBOY bred dog, and weighed in exactly at 55lbs. PANTHER weighed in 2 lbs. Lt. at 53 lbs, but he had recovered from the previous night’s activities. PANTHER came out fast trying for the shoulders, but the white dog was adept at holding out PANTHER. The pattern continued with PANTHER trying but unable to get any good holds. At twenty minutes, PANTHER HIT THE FRONT END AND THE WHITE DOG WAS IN TROUBLE. By the 40 minute mark, PANTHER was putting the finishing touches on the white dog, who took the ten second count in his corner making PANTHER the winner in 40 minutes. I kept PANTHER for a while as I had his weight open to match. It looked like PANTHER was going to get a chance at his second win but something always went astray. People who were interested in matching would not put up a forfeit or would reconsider the match weight. For one reason or another, PANTHER’S opponents did not materialize. I had several other match weights under contract so I returned PANTHER to Tar Heel Matt’s yard where he stayed open to match for a year or two. In the mean time PANTHER demolished several roll opponents with such speed that his already formidable reputation grew even more. At the age of six years, Matt retired PANTHER and bred the dog to several of his bitches. After several years PANTHER was sold to Rich Cupo. PANTHER sired two champions and a bunch of one and two time match winners. The best of PANTHERS off spring retained the signature trade mark of this strain. They would start fast and if a dog could not avoid their charge, the panther dogs would win in short order