I remember it clearly how Pete had the pup on his knee, as the lads sat out on the grass by our house, talking.
Pete was always into animals, over the years, I have known him to have all kinds from geese flocks to a huge Iguana that sat on his coffee table in his living room, Goshawks to hamsters, horses and cats. He always had a way to bring out the best in whatever he had, his animals were always well looked after and always trained and very tame. Never did I see animals dirty or not well exercised. I learned that from him. Dogs aren't machines, but sentient beings and to bring out the best in them you have to build a strong relationship. It's just the way it is.
Our house back then, and which my parents still live, was a semi detached and is adjoined by what we call flats, or others might say apartments. Most of these were occupied by elderly folk at this time, and right next door to us in the flat on the ground level was an old man who had a big, shaggy black dog called Sooty. Sooty was the top dog of the area and would attack dogs that wandered past and were not ready to accept him as such. These were the days when dogs were left to roam, and called in at night. We had a little female mongrel at the time and when she came into season, we literally had dogs sat around the house for days. This made going to school for a young boy a tad difficult as the dogs would follow me and try to jump me. At these times, armed with a broom handle I would run to school over the back wall and if any of the dogs followed I would swing the stick at them and shout at them. Sooty was a bad dog who would growl and bark back at me !
Around a year later I walked out of my house to hear a dog screaming around the corner and as I approached saw Pete and his friend with their dogs. It appeared that Sooty had attacked Pete's Stafford who subsequently dealt with him quickly. Sooty wasn't looking so tough now, and the old man quickly scuttled his dog back into the flat (usually he would just leave Sooty to bully the other dogs without interference). I remember that all the kids and some of the adults were happy that the big dog and had his come-uppance at last! We didn't see Sooty for weeks, which was great as it meant I could play footy near my house without Sooty trying to steal the ball. As I look back on it, he was a very dominant and ill-raised dog indeed.
At this time there were, to my knowledge, five Staffords on our estate and I really liked them all. I would often see Pete on his bike with Red (the now grown up Stafford) running up ahead. Red would always be at a canter, not a dog trot when out on the bike. He often carried small logs in his mouth and I watched on numerous occasions how Pete would bend a branch down for Red to take hold of, then let it go, as it swung up, Red would not let go at all. He could be hanging on there for what seemed like ages to me. His muscles would be obvious, but his desire to break the branch off really impressed me. Pete also showed me how he would swim underwater too! He would through a big stone or a half brick into a brook (or a stream you might say) about a metre deep. Red would swim over it and dive down and scour the bottom for it. He may take a few dives before he would return it to Pete. I think sometimes he would just bring another stone back when he wasn't sure!
About this time my sisters boyfriend bought her a brindle Stafford and we named her Sally. She was by Battlement Major and Tinker Tina. Red was siring pups by now and just about every Stafford on our estate was by Red! They all came red or red and white and were all active types of dogs. He was very well known on the estate and many people would stop and stroke him when he was around. I remember my parents returning from a night out saying they had seen Red as they called in at the local Chinese Take away. I can't remember what Pete was up to with him but I clearly remember them being really impressed by him. I sat and listened about this 'wonder dog' and was just so impressed by him.
We decided to breed sally and for some reason we tried another dog called Butch (of all the names). Butch was a poor stud and promptly tied himself and just stood there panting, despite my dads best efforts 'to get him in'! We called Pete, and asked him if he would bring Red around the next day, he did. We let him have a sniff of sally and loosed them, sally looked as though she may be coming off her season as she bit Red on the cheek. Red promptly, took hold of her and shook her to the floor and let go, Sally got up, ran over to the darkest part of the garden and stood for Red like a good'un! Red mated her in seconds.
We had a good litter of pups from this mating and they came black brindle, red and one super female was tiger brindle. My sister and her boyfriend sold all the pups, with an older couple taking two of them.
Years later I came to understand more of Red's story and how his ancestry goes back to some of the most famous Stafford's in the breed. The KC pedigree shown for him is not his true pedigree, as so many times is the case with the dogs. He was a strongly made dog with a serious looking expression. Rose ears but without a black mask. Sadly I do not have a picture to share of him.
The pups on this blog also come down from the same true lines as Red. looking at some of the pups out of Barclay and Gary's female's it takes me right back to them. I know I am biased, but for me these Red one's are some of the best in terms of character and representation of the breed. as I see the pics of these dogs with their new owners, I do hope they appreciate what they have and that they breed wisely to ensure this line continues on for the world to enjoy.
I could tell plenty of stories of the Red dogs that were around my area as a boy but these will have to wait for another time.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank my good friend Rivergreen for taking the time to write his wonderful story about Sir Red Benji and allowing me to publish for all my Stafford enthusiasts to read..We will all be looking forwards to reading many more !
Regards Gary B.