When I first got into the dog game and worked my first dog, I worked him with roadwork and walk. I showed up with a top conditioned dog and won in 1 hour, and 10 minutes. The next dog I worked was with a treadmill plus roadwork and walks. She too, was in good shape and won in 1 hour and 15 minutes, if I remember correctly. I lost one the same day but it was not because of my conditioning.
The next thing I found out when working a dog is that they can be put in shape most anyway a person sees fit. Since I was working on a job most of the time, the next thing I started working on was an easy way to work a dog. I had seen everyone else's way of working a dog by now, but I had something else in mind. I wanted to work a dog like a wild dog would if he had to hunt and kill his food, more so like big cats do, or like an eagle. They make their kill when they are very thin with no fat whatsoever on them. This is the time when most wild animals kill for food. Their blood count is on a natural high and there is no fat to make them breathe hot. This is when when they are their sharpest and make their kill. Their condition at the time of the kill will not return until they are ready for their next kill. In between times, the wild will tend to get fat and slow and lazy and they will have miss after mill until they lose all of their fat and get sharp, hunting and working their bodies into shape.
In my way of thinking, the cat mill was the machine I was looking for. Frank Fitzwater showed me his, he had a big wagon wheel on a hub with a 2 x 4 sticking out about 12 feet with a chain out in and another 2 x 4 in front of it with a box attached. Frank told me that it was a cat mill but nobody he knew would use one because they were afraid they would half kill their dog and they you could never get the dog to the pit in one piece.
At this time every dog man I had met worked his dog with a harness on them and myself, being a newcomer, also worked my dogs with a harness on them. Besides, it looked good on a dog. A harness has its own place for the dog. And the only place I found to use it is when taking a picture.
I liked the cat mill I had seen at Frank's but I could plainly see that it was very out dated. I then went home and made one with 20 feet from the center of the track. I still nearly killed the first dog I worked on it even at 20 feet. I then dug out my track and put a bank three feet high on the outside of the track. This did the trick and when my dog would run hard on the mill, he would run up on the bank. When he slowed down, he would walk or trot in the bottom of the track. I also had a drain to keep the water out of the track.
The cat mill had its downfalls, but for ten years it had every top conditioner in the game asking me how I worked my dogs. The first ones were Leo Kinard and George Saddler, in fact they both asked me the same day. That was the day I won with the first dog I had ever work on it. The match went 2 hours and 16 minutes with my dog scratching 27 times and never taking a deep breath or never off his feet. The same dog had won his last match when worked by his owner Frank Fitzwater, but was labled a cur, something Heinzl had bred to sale and make a little feed bill money. This dog had been tried when he was 2 1/2 years old and would not fight. Frank bought this dog known as Fitzwater's Goldie for $15.00, as they were going to kill the dog. When I won with Goldie, he was over 7 years old. Goldie was the sire of the Zeke dog, which was the sire of the Indian's Bolio, the dog Pat Patrick stole.
I worked dogs on this cat mill for 10 years and the trouble I had keeping feet under a dog, you would never believe. So, from then on I started looking for something that would out do the cat mill.
I went a little to the treadmill until this welder friend of mine called Maverick and myself built a cat mill 57 feet from one side of the track to the other, with both sides of the mill 28 1/2 feet from the center and both side the same so the weight would be the same. With this mill, I was able to improve my conditioning, but I was still having trouble keeping feet under the dog. After trying many different things, I found the only thing to do would be to put something in the track like hay and let it rot. It made a good soft track. I was still having trouble keeping shoulders under my dogs and with this mill, I was knocking out more than before. The mill is free wheeling and when a dog runs on it hard, then slows down, the mill will keep on going fast and will go over the dog pulling the shoulders out of joint thus, crippling them for a few day, this is about the time I found out what a harness was good for so I went over to a good wide working collar. This time my dogs started showing up with a much stronger neck and a fast mouth. I was beginning to see more of what I was looking for. For a while, I would quit using my common senses and I would walk my dog from two to five miles before I would work him. This took a lot of time, so something had to go. This is when I quit walking my dogs from two to five miles and started walking them about one mile with a 100 foot light weight rope and the dogs would walk about the same. I then started walking my dogs less and less until I got to where I am at now. About 25 yards, I found that all the talk I had heard about the 'walk your dog or he would not be in shape' was about to become a thing of the past. With the cat mill keep, this is true.
At this time, I had worked three dogs for one show. I then worked five dogs for one show, then six dogs, then dogs again, with all the dogs showing up in top condition. Out of 20 dogs worked on my cat mill, only 3 lost. About this time, I started noticing a cat mill in almost everyone's yard. More and more people coming by and taking notes about the cat mill and the keep I was using with it.
I learned a lot from other people like George Saddler. He told me to work a dog in the same way for 3 days before increasing his work again. By listening and understanding, it helped me with my keep. Earl Turdor once told me that the best thing for a tired dog is rest, this too helped my keep. Later you will see how two small bits of advice from the two top conditioners ever in the dog game helped me with my keep, after I had understood what I had learned from them.
When you start working a dog for a match, you need 10 weeks of good work to have him ready and fit. You never go to a vet, the entire keep you start out by working your dog for whips and hooks, then 5 days later, worm him for tapes and rounds plus hooks, 5 days after that, worm him again for whips and hooks, then 5 days later worm him again for tapes and rounds plus hooks, this should have him clean. You will worm him one more time at 2 1/2 weeks before the match, each time you worm the dog, give him 3 cc. Combiotics and when you worm your dog, make it after you have worked him then rest him the next day, giving him dry dog chow with castor oil (one ounce over his feed) and always have fresh water for him to drink.
Start your dog out slow on the mill. Keep a milk jug in front of your dog, letting it bounce just out of reach for the dog. The kind of jug I am talking about is a one gallon plastic jug, tied with a good rope from the front arm where the coon is in the pin. Put this jug on the mill after you get your dog working 30 minutes.
Have your dog on his pit weight; he should look on the side with no fat showing. His head should be full with no bones showing, have your dog's feed in good shape my making a mixture of one part linseed oil, one part turpentine and one part burnt motor oil. With a paintbrush, paint the feet every time you take the dog off the mill. Use corona ointment, or any good antiseptic lubricant in a salve form, then put this salve on the feet every time you put your dog on the mill and every day afterwards, even a few times a week when he is resting.
You should be up to 30 minutes now, jump your dog up 30 minutes every other day until you get him up to 6 hours. Give your dog a 30 minute rub down every time you take him off the mill. The way a dog should be rubbed down is on a small table, a little over waist high. Stand behind the dog at the end of the table and start by rubbing the front legs down, from the shoulders down, then take your right hand going under the right side of the dog to the front of the left shoulder pulling back down the chest all the way back to the top right side of the top right stifle up high in the gut. Do the same with the other hand, going to the opposite side every other time. From they're down the back, from behind the ears to the tip of the tail, and down the side of the rib cage. This way the hair grows. The back legs are the next place to rub down. Rub down the way the hair grows, from the top to the bottom of the leg. You should give each area about 5 minutes. Last, come to the head. Turn the dog around; run the head just like the rest of the body, the way the hair grows. Have a mixture of 1 pint water and two tablespoons powered ammonia alum, dip your fingers into the mixture and with wet fingers, rub the inside of the lips and gums. Trying to get as much as possible on the inside of the top lip and gums with the dog swollen as little as possible. When you rub the outside of the top lip, rub from the nose to the ear with wet fingers using the alum mixture. When rubbing your dog, rub with the light weight of the hand, using baby oil every fourth day, getting the hands wet with oil then rubbing dry, covering the dog in oil, keeping away from the eyes. Once a week, pour about 3 cc's of hydrogen peroxide solution into each ear then let him shake his head, do the same with rubbing alcohol. Make his last rub down with baby oil 5 days prior to the match. With his last rub down, two days prior to the match, stop the alum mixture. His work would also stop five days before the match. With his last week of work, jumping up to 8 hours or even 10 hours, trying to have your dog tired 5 days in front of his match, and when I say tired, I like to see them not wanting to run out of the dog house to meet you.
On the eleventh and ninth days before the match, give them 2 cc's of Combiotics and cut the work in the half. On the tenth and ninth day, give first shot after work and on the eleventh day, before the match. When the dog is up to about two hours, take the plastic jug and let the rope out so the dog can reach it. Start this after the dog has been working about one hour, teasing the dog with it, trying to get the dog to take a hold of it, as when they take a hold, it should not be close to the ground. The dog will then start shaking and backing up with the jug. You should talk to your dog for around a minute or two just like you were talking to him in the pit, watching his eyes as he will watch yours. Then letting him start to tire, never letting any slack in the rope. The dog will start walking forward, to keep him from losing the jug (by now most dogs won't need a coon in front of them, just the jug), start letting your dog have 30 minutes of jug work every other day in his work, letting the jug bounce close to his nose so he may catch it a few times as a work out. Working for at least 30 minutes and work up to about 1 hour with this jug in his mouth. End this work 5 days prior to the match.
The next work is to have your dog on a cable run from one tree limb to another if possible, about 300 feet apart, with a heavy chain of about 20 feet long and the cable 10 feet from the ground, after the 20 foot chain has been champed with a rivet. Swivels should be at both ends of the chain, and a ring big enough for a 2 inch collar to go through, a good leather collar with baby oil put on it every week to keep it safe. Have this setup as close to the mill as possible about 7 to 8 feet would be perfect, but make sure that it is as close as they can get. Have a good house for your dog with a good shade area where he can get cool air and fresh water under the shade. His house should be far enough back that his chain will not hang on his house. Always have good bedding in his house and a cool shade for the hot days. Every other day from the jug work, take a coon tail on a short, light pole and work him up to 30 minutes after starting at 5 minutes a day. Keep the tail low to the ground with the dog at the end of his chain pulling out after the coon tail, with the heavy chain and cable pulling him back. Go from side to side making your dog move fast, then slow. Do this work for 15 minutes before his mill work and for 15 minutes after his mill work. Then work him up to 30 minutes before and after mill work. This work should be ended 6 days before the match.
The walk should never be any more than just far enough to get your dog to empty before each day's work and it will get shorter and shorter. When your dog empties, get a stick and look through his dump. If you ever see blood on the outside wall, your dog has whip worms. If it is blood running through the stool, it is hook worms. If there are little white worms coming out of the stool, flat like, they are tape worms. The stool should always be firm, never hard and never loose. After you check the stool, start walking your dog to the mill sending him on. Just like you would send a dog in a match. Always try to walk him as close to the mill so he may walk to the mill after he had emptied. The feed should start with a good high protein dry food food, about 2 cups at first with 1/4 cup of wheat germ, 1/4 can mustard greens, a cup of corn bread, with vitamins of desiccated liver-tables (7 1/2 grams, start at 5 a day and work up to 15 a day), give one vitamin E (400 IU), give one vitamin C (1000 milligrams), 4 papaya digestive aids, 1 iron with molasses. Try and have all your vitamins natural vitamins, you should add to your dry dog feed as much as need be. To hold your dog at about 2 pounds over his pit-weight. Come off this vitamin E five days in front of the match. Add about 1/8 to 1/4 a cup of water to his feed, just enough to wet it, just before you feed.
Four weeks in front of the match, start with his meat, good heavy beef like bull-neck, cut the meat into small chunks about 1/2 in square. Start with 1/2 pound and add up to 1/2 pound to 3/4 pound 5 days in front of the match. Always cut all the fat out of the meat. Use only red, lean meat. Sear the meat in as little as possible and pour this juice over the meat and mix (just so it will be wet going down, but dry when it gets to the stomach).
At least two times on your dogs rest day, get a big joint bone from the butcher, boil it in water for about 20 minutes, let it cool and cut your feed in half and give this bone after feeding. The next evening after feeding him 1/2 a feeding on his rest day, take the bone away from him. When feeding this bone, always feed 1/2 feeding the day before the next day and give the bone that day. Then feed 1/2 feeding on the rest day. This bone should be fed about 2 1/2 weeks before the match.
The water should be put in front of the dog each morning, fresh and in a bucket. The first two weeks of work, walk your dog until he cools all the way down after his work on the mill. After his rub down, let him drink. After two weeks of work, put the dog in front of his fresh water and let him drink as much as he wants to until 5 days before the match. Always feed dry dog food so your dog will drink a lot of water. Always let him rink as soon as he comes off the mill after 2 weeks of work. Give one tablespoon of raw honey every three days over the feed.
This should bring everything up to 5 days in front of the match. In the next issue of Pit Pal, I will explain the last week of keep. This will show you how to point a dog. The week that will let you know if you can do it or not. For the first eight weeks, give half a teaspoon of salt two times a week, make sure you give it in their feed two days in a raw, then five days with no salt, then two days with salt. The last salt is to be given 14 days in front of the match. To understand just what the salt will do to your temperament, go without salt in your food for 14 days, then eat salt over your food an drink lots of water for three days, your temperament will change from easy and easy to get along with and friendly to a short tempered, very grippe person, the close the fourteenth day comes around.
To understand what the salt will do to the blood is to understand what a high red-blood count is and what a low-red blood count is. To know how to get a high red-blood count is to go without salt and your body will pull away from water and when your body pulls away from water, it will start to dehydrate. Your blood will start to concentrate, as you will get a very high red-blood count. In order to gt your red-blood count down low, eat salt for three days and drink a lot of water and you will see your red-blood count go down as your body will take on water once more and you will finally have a smile on your face.
The reason for a high red-blood count is that the blood will be concentrated and that means more red-blood cells to go through the body to the lungs to cool off and back through the body to cool it off, so it will keep a dog from getting hot as the hotter the body gets, the weaker it will get.
Another reason for a high red-blood count is the blood, when concentrated, the dog can get an artery cut and in just a few seconds, the bleeding will stop because the blood is so pure, it will seal, and stop the loss of blood.
So, to understand, this is a peak, that you must try and reach the last five days, is to understand what a person is talking about when he talks of drying a dog out. The last five days in front of the match, your dog should be put into a crate and kept in a quiet, cool place (I keep mine in my bedroom). The water should be given to your dog by hand, and not left in front of him. He should have soft bedding in his crate, clean and dry hay. He should weigh one and a half pounds to two pounds over his pit weight.
For the last 5 days, the feed should start to change. Feed more red meat and less Purina high-protein and more wheat germ cereal. Also, start cutting the mustard greens. The next to the last feeding should be not more than a half a cup of Purina high-protein, a half a cup of wheat germ cereal and a half a pound of red, lean meat. Cooked in no water. Should be seared on all sides, very rare, cut in one-inch cubes, with all vitamins.
The last feeding should be twenty-six hours before his match. Red, lean beef, cut in one-inch cubes with 3/4 cup of wheat germ cereal with his vitamins. The meat should be seared in with no water, very rare, but seared on all four sides with two tablespoons full of honey.
The dog should be walked four time a day for the first three of the last five days before the match. The first walk should be 30 minutes after day break. Walk two miles in a field with a fifteen-foot lead rope, so that the dog can walk slow and empty, taking his time. Then when starting back to the crate, walk behind him with a short lead rope of six to eight feet, letting him pull back to the crate, as you talk to him, sending him on. He should be walked the same, one hour before dark. He should be taken for a short walk of 1/2 mile between his first walk and his walk before dark. He should have his second short walk of about two hours after dark. The last two days your dog should be walked the same four times, but no longer than 1/4 mile in the morning and 1/4 mile in the evening, before dark. The walk between the morning and the evening should be 1/4 a mile, the same as the walk you take two hours after dark. But, on the day of the match, the dog should have his last 1/4 of a mile walk one hour before his match. Five minutes before the match, he should be given a very short walk to empty his kidneys. The walks the last two days, you should never send your dog on making him pull, try and save him and save all the strength he has as he will need all of it at match time.
To understand the peak you are after from the feeding and the walking for the last five days is to understand the feed. the feed went from carbohydrates and protein to protein with just enough, so the dog will weigh in on weight, keeping the stool as firm as possible, as too much feed will make the stool loose and not enough feed will weaken him. To understand the reason for this walk is to understand fully the peak you are after. Have all the inners empty at match time.
To water a dog the last five days before the match, you should give him water after his morning walk with a tablespoon full of honey in the water, letting the dog drink what you think he might need. To make weight, as he should be weighed after each walk and watered two times a day for the first two of the last five days before the match, the next two days water only one time a day making the last water 26 hours before the match. To understand the peak you are after watering, feeding and weighing your dog after each walk, is to understand how much feed and water you put in your dog before the match, the last five days while he is resting, take the water away from him slow letting his weight drop to right on pit weight. The day of the fight, if your dog starts to drop under his weight, turn the hot water on in the shower, making the air very wet, and as the dog breathes the wet air, his weight will go up, if your dog is loosing weight too slow, you should turn on the air-conditioner so the air will be very dry, his weight will start to fall.
To understand conditioning and to see a body put into the best condition possible is a thing of beauty. To put a body in condition, you have to try and get as close to nature as you can, like we say about the eagle and the condition of his body, the eagle, scoring the blue skies, overlook the land of the wild, his eyes open wide, looking for his prey as he feels the pain of hunger in his inners with his ears open wide, he can hear the chatter of his mater, as she tries to content their offspring's while they cry out from hunger. Then with the movement of an object from under the huge trees, he dives from instincts traveling at his top speed, turning his body from side to side, to miss the limbs of the huge trees sweeping down to killing a rabbit, as it sits very still with his ears cocked to hear the air being cut by an eagle. This is condition, this is survival, the only way and living thing can put their bodies at there peak it to live by the law of the land. Your body must stay as close to its peak or you will not survive to understand the meaning of the condition is to see every part of the body as its peak. That is what you are after you get a dog ready to fight for life or death.
Two small bits of advice from two of the top dog men in the dog game is to increase the work and rest a tired dog. To understand this is to understand what a tired dog looks like when he is over worked and needs a day of rest.