Hank was born in 2006 and was bred by my good friend JT Ellison. His sire was a red pied male named Victor by his own daughter, making Hank a double bred Victor dog. His pedigree included dogs such as Jim, Joe, Warrior, Sinbad, Jess, Red and also Blue Wolf. There were two males in the litter and I picked Hank because he was a little more outgoing than his brother. My only regret on the pick was that I only picked one as there were some outstanding bitches in this litter, but I had promised my wife to only come back with the one!
Hank matured into a big dog of some 19 inches and weighed well into the 40lbs. He was a very easy going dog whom I thought if I had not had him could have been a little on the shy side, but because I had him out every day, experiencing different sounds, sights and smells he became a really well rounded dog. He too was a red pied dog. I sent my friend S McNutt pictures of him and he said he was a super looking dog, which made me right proud of him.
I share this story with the readers as a warning as to how seemingly simple situations can get quickly out of hand. The dogs of this line make super pets but at the same time they have, in the main, a strong prey drive and if roused then something bad, very bad is going to happen. There is a level of responsibility in owning one of these dogs that an owner must be aware of. Yes these dogs will be friendly with all dogs, animals who come peacefully but if challenged, they will, like the dogs of old seek to defend their master with every once of their being!
Hank would exercise in any way I wanted him to and he would do it well. He really loved running by the bike and we would do 6 miles 3 or 4 times per week no problem. I loved doing this and he was in great shape, rippling in muscle and really looking healthy.
One mid summers day we were out in the country on a private lane away from the crowds and it was lovely. The scent in the air was fragrant and the larks were singing over head. I was on the bike and Hank was in front, about 10-15 metres away, off the lead just trotting on and sniffing around here and there. To be honest I was alone with my thoughts and as I was daydreaming, miles away, you might say.I thought nothing of the small herd of young bullocks who were in the field we were passing. The bullocks got up together and began trotting in parallel to myself and Hank but on the far side of the field. Still, I was miles away and although I saw them, being a div, I did not link what they were doing had anything to do with us passing. That soon changed as the small herd of perhaps 10-15 bullocks turned right angles and galloped towards Hank who by now had spotted them, stood to attention, ears pricked, on his toes leaning in their direction!
I knew then trouble was afoot and began to call Hank back. This had absolutely had no effect as by now the herd were galloping straight at him. Still, he just stared at them. I thought they were going to crash through the barbed wire fence but as they closed in they stopped dead- almost nose to nose with Hank. There was a moments pause and that was it, Hank grabbed one of them by the nose and all hell broke loose!
The bullocks scattered, and the one with Hank on it's nose retreated back into the field and began to thrash about wildly. Hank hung on for a time before being launched into the air. It looked like one of those old Henry Alken engravings where the dog is flying through the air at a height of about 10 feet; that was Hank. He span off like a frisbee, landed and scratched straight back into the bullock who by now was galloping along with the rest towards one side of the field. I rode around to this side as fast as I could, dropped the bike and looked to get Hank out of there. When I looked, Hank had the poor beast by the throat now and had positioned himself between its front legs! The bullock was stamping on his body with it's front legs and I cringed as I felt sure it would be breaking his ribs. Again it thrashed and Hank lost his grip and span through the air like a shammy in the wind. Again he landed and I could see he had 'lost it' and was after finishing this young bull off! As the herd ran away he caught the beast by the nose and actually pinned it's nose to the floor, whereupon he began to shake his hold as hard as he could. This hurt the bull and it let out a moan and jumped like a cat off all four feet at the same time. I remember being impressed at the height it jumped? Again Hank was thrown through the air and by this time I was in the field and thought this was my chance, but disaster struck as one by one the bulls jumped the fence and ran off down the lane! My heart sank as the situation escalated. How on earth had this happened? Hank chased his bull down the lane who for some reason went in the opposite direction to the rest? As he closed in the bloodied bull suddenly turned about 180 degrees and came running back towards me! At this point I was past caring and just wanted to stop this carnage. Hank fortunately slipped on his turn and this allowed the bull a head start. I ran towards my dog and as he came racing past me I put in a rugby tackle worthy of the Six Nations! I had him! His body was trembling and he was going wild to get back at the bull once I had him back on the lead. I have no doubt in my mind this dog would have stayed at this bull for as long as it took to finish him.
I got up off the floor and ran towards my bike and as I did I saw the farmer driving along the lane towards his bulls who were now trotting as though to meet him. My heart sank again as I realised just what a mess this situation was. I now faced the dilemma of either explaining what had happened to the farmer and risk having my dog put to sleep, which he was by law entitled to do, or making a run for it?
I paused for a moment, looked down at my dog and rather cowardly decided to run for it. I'm not proud of this and felt badly as now the farmer would have to get his herd back in the field and no doubt have vets fees to pay- that bull was in a bit of a mess around the head. But I just couldn't risk losing my dog for something that was really my fault for not reading the situation as I should and getting the dog on the lead.
Hank and I raced away, across a country park and home, which was 3 miles away. He was a fit dog, but by the time we got home he was knackered. That whole battle lasted a good 10 minutes at least. I washed him down and bathed his wounds, and let him rest.
The next day he looked like he had done rounds with Tyson as he had bumps and swelling all over him. In saying that though, his spirits were fine and he was as perky as ever! What a dog?
On reflection, although it was a most unfortunate situation and one which I am not proud of, the pluck that Hank showed told me that he was quite some dog and one which I admired. With his breeding, I felt strongly that this was something I wanted to keep going. Fortunately for me, my friend Gary and I did some dealing and I was able to breed Hank to bitches carrying the same genes.
My old friend JT has passed away now and I still at times miss him terribly. He was for sure a gregarious character but he taught me many things about the dogs and enabled me to own some of the best examples of the breed. However, I am reconciled by the fact that the dogs he bred are continuing on through Barclay and his offspring.
I will enclose a picture or two of my old dog and hopefully the reader will have enjoyed the story and the pictures too. One is of Hank tied with Peppi and this mating produced Barclay. The other is Hank with my old Lurcher female Lilly. She was Greyhound x Wheaton- by the Horace dog, and was a superb hunter. She taught Hank how to hunt!
I will also enclose a link that makes me laugh and kind of captures the mood of the incident described above. Enjoy!
I would like to thank our good friend Rivergreen for sharing once again another great story for the blog page with all our Stafford enthusiasts in the UK and around the world about his great dog Hank.
Regards Gary B