Interview with Captain America
Louie, how did you get started in the dogs?
I went to grade school with Red Rhode, after that I didn’t see him for twenty years. I found out that he had pit bulls. I had read in some magazine that pit bulls could whip any dog in the world; I said that’s the dog for me! I got my first dog from Red Rhode, it was a cur. My impression was that I could make a decent dog out of it………that’s how much I knew. I went through about thirty dogs without a good one. I heard of Heinzl dogs, I started writing Howard Heinzl. Then I made a trip out to Arizona and purchased some of his dogs which I bred together. I went through thirty or more of them; I only got one really good dog out of them, thats not too good of a percentage! I read about Maurice Carver and was impressed with his dogs; I decided I wanted a Boomerang dog. I kept calling around and bought a daughter of GR CH Boomerang called Ms. V. I bred her to Ch Gator, thats when I really got started. I got a bunch of crazy dogs, not high caliber but dead game, fight crazy animals. They had good air but not enough mouth, but I liked them anyway and still do.
In your early career did anyone take you under their wing?
Nobody actually took me under their wing, but I did become good friends with Andre Giroux who I consider one of the best Dogmen ever. I have talked to some of the greatest Dogmen in the country, but Andre had the biggest impact on me. When I really got started, I bought GR CH Hank from Andre, CH Spike and the Peaches bitch that went 3:30 in a match. She was sired by Andre’s Ch Gunner. I also bought a bitch sired by Greenwood’s Camino, called Sweet Adelene. She was a dead game bitch and a half sister to Ozzie Stevens’ Geraldine ROM. Geraldine later going to Bulldog Heaven Kennels.
Louie, you stuck with the Hank dogs for a long time, what kind of dogs were they?
There were two types of dogs, the Hank/Boomerang and the Hank/Giroux. The Hank/Boomerang type were great dogs, they could battle and were dead game. The Hank/Giroux dogs were weird and squirrelly acting; they would make you dizzy with their whirling and turning. Some were game and some were curs, I think Gunner had something to do with that. The Hank/Boomerang dogs were straight ahead and wouldn’t turn. My hank dogs could have been as famous as GR CH Buck, if not better. On the right day Jumbo could have whipped Buck. Hank Jr. was a good dog; he beat a sixty pound dog when he weighed forty-six pounds. I was impatient and matched him into Buck a little earlier than I should have. John B. of S.T.P. kennels didn’t want to match into me, I had to sneak into Buck; I had someone in New York match into him, then showed up with Jumbo Jim. There was nothing wrong with Buck, but on the right day I could have beat him with Jumbo Jim. Hank Jr would have chewed him up and spit him out. If you ever heard of a dead game dog, Jumbo Jim would make the hair stand up on your back! Buck had him dead at one hour; he stopped breathing his tail stopped moving and his bowels let loose. Everyone said it was over, that Jumbo Jim was dead. Buck was having a field day with him shaking him all over the pit, but I think this actually revived Jumbo Jim; as we noticed he was trying to grab a leg hold. He came back to life; people at pitside couldn’t believe it when Jumbo Jim got on his feet and started walking Buck around the pit.
Jim made two more scratches and at 1:55 Jumbo was to scratch, he went limp in my arms and could not make it. He was counted out. Jumbo was sired by Hank Jr. and out of Gina Blue Eyes. I told them to bring Buck close and when they did Jumbo stretched his neck out trying to reach Buck.
Hank Jr. was a forty-six pound dog and nobody would match me. I had to fight a forty-eight pound dog that was Cummings bred dog; he was a cur but he could really bite. Hank Jr. peeled the other dog’s nose right back like banana and he died three days later. He was one hell of a dog! I liked the Hank dogs, but they had just one bad feature; they were too slow to get started in a match. Some dogs could wreck you in half an hour, and it takes the Hank dogs half hour to get started. There are dogs AS game as mine, but not MORE game!
Did your Hank dogs have any bite?
Yes, Hank Jr. had a mouth and a lot of others did also when they wanted to use it. They lay around and don’t do much until thirty minute mark, then they pick up the pace. Andre Giroux once told me GR CH Hank fought better at the hour mark then he did at the beginning; so did all his offspring that I had. They start off slow, and as the fight goes on they get better and better. I had matched with Joker against S.T.P’s So So dog. He beat STP kennels when they went into him, so they bought him and matched into me. Joker was a turning and spinning fool who would confuse and intimidate his opponent. They laughed at Joker and said he was the worst fighting dog they had ever seen. One hour and ten minutes later they picked So So up…
What did you think about Andre Giroux’ reputation as a Dogman?
I think the top Dogmen of today would have a hard time beating Andre. No matter how bad your dog was, you couldn’t spook Andre. He would keep his cool, so would his dog. Andre’s dogs were stickers; once they get a hold, they would keep the hold for long periods of time. For example, how about when Ron Petronelli matched the famous Sue Boy dog into Giroux’s Spice? Spice was bred by Andre and one half Corvino, while Sue Boy came from the kennels of Maurice Carver and was a super bad dog. Sue Boy had previously won over Jay Weitzel and Mangrum’s Hobo, destroying him. Sue Boy was dragging Spice around the pit at twenty-five minutes, throwing him like a sack of potatoes. Petronelli told Andre that Spice would be dead at the hour mark. When the hour mark came around Andre said to Petronelli with his french/Canadian accent “Hey Ronnie, I got you now.” Spice was still making good scratches, Sue Boy was too weak to scratch. Andre knew his dogs great. I had CH Rocky’s brother he wasn’t worth ten cents.
Andre was into racing pigeons. He would compete with people who had as many as a thousand pigeons; and he would come in first although he only owned a dozen pigeons. He used to look them in the eye, and if he didn’t like them he would rip their heads off. He knew which ones were good; he had some sixth sense; he knew something in an animal. He had Carlos, Pinky, Ch Gunner, Ch Sunny, CH Tripp and many other high caliber dogs. Sunday was a great dog; she came from Ralph Greenwood as had the half sister to Ozzie Stevens’ Thelma Lou; they were both sired by Maloney’s Davis dog. Thelma Lou was also the dam of GR Ch Snake Jr who I also purchased from Ozzie Stevens. Sunday was a hard biting dog that won all her fights in short order. Everyone has heard the story that CH Rocky whipped two dogs in one day.
Andre was great; his dogs, however, weren’t that great. To take a dog like Spice and beat the hard biting Sue Boy shows that Andre could take a dog not as good as the opponent’s dog, and win consistently.
Which outcrosses work best?
Hank bred to Boomerang bitches produced my highest caliber dogs: Hank Jr.. Hank III, and Sire Douglas to name a few.
You have had some deeply game dogs. What kind of dog do you prefer, a dead game dog or a hard biting dog?
I like a dead game dog, but they are not cutting it now a days with a number of hard biting dogs around.
Louie, I heard rumors that your CH Joker dog made turns and actually ran back to his corner, is that true?
Yes, Joker would be fighting full blast then all of the sudden he would turn back to his corner, do an about face and scratch right back into his opponent. Red Becker had the CH Charlie dog that beat Ch Toro. Toro was a lay around dog that would fight off the bottom and had no mouth whatsoever. He was treated for heart worms right before he matched into Charlie. Toro had gone through four matches, some going two and half hours. With him having heart worms, it made it impossible for him to win. Red’s CH Charlie matched into GR CH Moe who was now seven years old, and his teeth were worn down and blunt. GR CH Moe had beaten some quality opponents including Gaines’ CH Fargo when he was younger. Ch Charlie won over GR CH Moe in :26, but when I called Red and Charlie to match in Ch Joker, Red’s words were “No, I talked to Texas Ron and he told me to stay away from you. Ch Joker fights too weird.” It appears to me that if a dog is known to be a bad ass “son of a bitch”, Red Becker stays far away.
In your opinion which bloodlines would you recommend to anyone starting in the dogs, or who has been in business a short time and hasn’t gotten anywhere?
Well I would look at the new Dogmen who are winning with their dogs and see where those dogs came from. Rocket Man started out in the dogs winning four straight; three of them with CH Becky, a daughter of GR CH Virgil, and Rocky didn’t pick up either.
If you wanted to breed one of your own bitches and didn’t want to use your own stud dog, which stud dog would you use?
I have seen plenty of big name dogs fight. The absolute best dog that I have ever seen, beyond the shadow of doubt, was sired by the Leon dog that is owned by Ozzie Stevens. He is double bred CH Homer dog, if I had the chance it would probably be to breed to Leon.
What was the best fight you saw?That would be hard to answer, but it would probably be when I matched Jumbo Gina into STP Kennels. Both bitches were young at the time, it was a tremendous fight. John Pollock admitted the he considered this one of the best ever, John had a Paladin/Carver bitch that weighed in at forty-nine, while my bitch came in at forty-seven. It went 2:43, both bitches biting hard and giving up no ground, I won, but both dogs died after the match,What was the longest match you ever had?I had a bitch that was seven years old; she was a dead game bitch that went 3:30 against Corvette George’s Annie, who was later bought by the Pollock. My bitch won.What was your most disappointing loss ever?
Well that would be when I matched into Pollock’s CH Toro; I used a dog called Bruce and Broadway Jack was the referee. My dog was pretty wild in the corner and Jack ordered me to scratch my dog two times in a row, because my dog didn’t have both feet on the floor. I felt I had the fight won, but at 2:36 I was up to scratch. My dog scratch on the eleven count, normally it would have been CH Toro’s turn to scratch being as though the referee ordered me to scratch twice, I feel that it cost me the match.
What was the hardest dog you ever had to face?
The hardest biting dog I ever had to face was Irish Tim’s Ch Lochchen. He hit my dog in throat and broke his windpipe in short order. I have advanced since my early days when my dogs had no ability or bite. I have added blood to make myself more competitive; I am afraid of no dog or Dogman!
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!”