After I had been through my Odyssey to get my first real dog, Bruno, I decided to try my hand at breeding a few good working dogs. Bruno was a bigger dog than I really cared for, but was literally overflowing with the traits I liked. I had searched high and low for just the right pup to use as a foundation bitch. While I preferred a game bred dog, that scenario was one I did not feel like going through again. I had done enough research to think I wanted to dabble in something that would lend itself to producing hybrid vigor without going to another breed. The crossbred dogs, although very good at what they do, were exactly what I wanted to stay away from. I considered using some game bred Staffs, but even that cost me time in my long-range plan and who in their early twenties, are ever patient enough for an undertaking of this magnitude.

I had heard of a cross made by a man in Houston, where he bred a red nosed bitch that I heard was worth feeding, to the famous show Staff, Texas Jack. This sparked my interest because D.C. Humes, who was famous for all around good dogs, had been the man behind the breeding. He was a master breeder of that day and was always interested in helping people and doing what was best for the breed. He was also a man with no wild claims or a big ego. I never saw Jack, but had seen pictures and heard a lot about him over the years, even that he had shown to be game in a kennel accident. Don got the pick of that litter, offered to sell this female to me and so I decided to give her a try. She was delivered to my house by some people just passing through, which saved me the drive to Houston.

Not only did I take an immediate liking to her, but with Bruno, there was no doubt about it being love at first sight. There was only one name to fit this lanky, brindle, bitch, with a sparkle in her eye and it was Katy Ann. She grew like a weed and would do all the doggie tricks, but loved playing ball the best. At about six months, I had decided an ear trim would add something to her demeanor, so got with Wendell Trussell about doing this for me. He was about as good at it as most vets and could do it all from a combat to show cut. We had dried her out a little and went over to Trussells
to get it done. With his surgical clamp and razor, he had them knocked off in about a minute. I never had any idea there was so much blood in a dog’s ears. My best friend Richard Massy, was with me that day and he was convinced Katy Ann would bleed to death, but Trussell said she was in good shape. He told us to take her home, keep her quiet, which we did and she would be fine. By the time we got home both of us and my Chevelle were peppered with blood. She was pampered for a few day which she loved and then it was back to the chain.

She had developed into a solid forty-five pound bitch by the time she had her first heat cycle and was bred to her favorite bulldog, Bruno. As she got closer to her due date her girlish figure was gone and she had this waddle that cracked everybody up. Bruno would try to play with her and she would get up to move to a cooler part of the yard and this puzzled expression would come across his face as she coolly ignored him and maneuvered her way over to the shade. She was showing signs of getting ready to have pups three days before she did. One Sunday evening, after church, my girl Charlotte and Rick came home with me to check on her. There was a thirty-five gallon barrel that I had as a house for my Snoopy dog by the back door. As we looked all over the place for Katy, Rick said he thought she was in Snoopy’s house. I continued to look in all the places she might be. By then Charlotte is also convinced Katy is in the barrel and sounded
like she has had a pup. I explained to them that Katy had not been able to get in that house since she was two months old but to humor them, I brought the flashlight over to show them an empty barrel and low and behold it was full of a bulldog and one pup. I had to pry off the lid to extract her and put her in the whelping box intended for her.

During the night she had a bunch of them. There was every imaginable color and that Bruno dog was more than proud of his pups. He would inspect them every chance he got and would try a little courting of Katy from time to time, which was quickly forgotten as she would put him in his place. The pups grew and were named according to what fit and what a litter this was to
be. They were never intended to be anything but working dogs, but for all practical purposes thought they were combat dogs of the first degree. My favorite was Blackjack, who was a black brindle and later known as Terry and Hammonds’ Macho. There was also a unique brindle we called Tiger and a buckskin male called Bad News. These dogs went on the chain early to avoid anyone being skinned up. By the time they were four months old, they would get along when they were let off their chains to romp around. I was given a turkey carcass and planned to allow them to play with it before giving it to the cats. As it turned out, the big, lanky pups decided they would “get it on” and the whole bunch got in on the action. I took some pictures of this nonsense before putting them back on their chains, and realized, for probably the first time, the bulldogs weren’t being malicious in their fighting, but just having fun.

Katy Ann did not know what to think of this and would scold them to no avail for fighting. This was an excellent litter and one that I will always be proud of. Bobby Ackel of Louisiana got two of these pups and liked them good enough that he came back and bought Katy Ann herself. She was a cold bitch when I had her and I never pressed the issue of gameness or fighting. Bobby told me later that she had showed to be pretty game, but no talent and not much mouth. She produced some really good pups for him. Bobby told me several years after her death that she was one of his favorites and living proof that the good ones come where you find them. She produced at least three Champions, one Grand Champion and a lot of good working dogs. Bad News was so good he was stolen. Tiger, who we all thought was the best, coughed it up in just over an hour one hot July day, but went on to my good friend, J.D., who used him asa schooling dog. Black Jack (Macho) went to my cousin, Ralph Terry and was just one of the family until he was over a year old.

When he was still a pup here on my place, he and Bruno would play fight for hours and when Bruno would get tired, he would jump up on his house and Macho, who was too small to jump up with him, would get on top of his much smaller house. These dogs truly loved one another and when my cousin told me he was bringing back a grown Macho, I figured it would be the devil to
pay, because he had started to get on dogs at his place. The evening they got here, it was still light and they brought Macho through the garage and Bruno sniffed him at the gate and that tail went crazy. We let them run in the backyard until Bruno got tired and jumped on his house. Macho could have easily done the same thing, but found the closest house and jumped up on it just like he did as a pup.

Macho was only slightly bigger than his father and I could work them together off a bike or one on the table and one on the tire in the tree and on rare occasions, put both on the tire at the same

Gary Hammonds and Bruno (at 13 months old) in 1969

time. By the time Macho came back I had become a full fledged dog fighter, so Macho was a prospect like a diamond in the rough to me. He was not a high talent dog, but was very durable and game as all get out. He was a great school dog for bigger dogs and was one of the fastest dogs I knew to recover from injury. He beat the Chicago dog of George’s in forty seven minutes and had forfeit paid several times before winning over Otto’s Cream dog. Terry Flory had Susan Renee’ at the time and wanted to get some stock dogs, so we bred her to Macho. What a litter of pups this
turned out to be. They made Terry famous in the catch dog business and put some fighting dogs on the ground as well. Eagleton’s Sparky showed to very good before he took a dead game
killing against the Plumber’s threelegged Diamond dog. Any idea why he was three legged? Anderson got his brother Spade, who easily made champion for him in the fast lane. Kizzie was probably the best in the litter, but we could never get her hooked up, as she had the reputation of being a very bad girl.

Macho was also bred to my Taffy bitch and produced Massey’s Bridget, who won several brush matches and Mack the Knife who beat Stinson and Holt’s Carver dog, plus several others along the way. Before I could take him out again, Ralph moved to Coleman and Macho went with him to be a protection and farm dog. As he got older, he all but lost his sight and Ralph was certain the old rattlesnake killer would get bit if he couldn’t see them, so sent him back my way to be a stud dog since you don’t have to see to be good at breeding. We did get him bred but his sperm must have been gone, because he produced no puppies. At that time, it had been years since I had seen a Copperhead snake on my place. These are the smallest of the Texas pit vipers and a beautiful snake that cannot be seen in oak leaves, so perfect is his camouflage. How ironic that life does have it’s wrinkles. He was sent back here to avoid being Rattlesnake bit and he falls prey to a Copperhead.

The snake’s venom had racked Macho’s entire body. His lymph nodes were the size of golf balls and we couldn’t get him to flush it in spite of all we did. I had a sit down with him that evening and helped him with a good petting and rubbed down his fevered body. I thought, “You just refuse to give up don’t you?” Even the vet had said he would not last another day a week ago. As I told him how proud we all were of him that sparkle in his eyes that said he understood everything I was telling him, told me he had had enough and not to be sad, since he had led a happy, long life that was a full adventure. As I buried this great dog, I thought of all the dog men who looked down their noses at this dog, with Staff blood in him and remembered one of the best dog men of the day, Anderson, saying, “I’d feed a yard full of dogs as good as him or what he produced.” To this day I still celebrate his life and what it taught me.