Webster defines gameness as "the will to continue and never quit". Those of us who find it as a much more desirable trait, the general population realizes it is not as simple as the definition would lead us to believe. While I do not believe gameness is as a rare commodity as we might have been led to believe, I certainly do think that dead-game is very rare, indeed. So what I'm saying is, in essence, that gamness not only comes in varying degrees, but is relative to many things. I was recently enlightened to the fact that gameness wasn't all it was cracked up to be. This may be true to some, but it is still the trait that sets our breed apart from others in the canine world. Think for a minute if you will, of the certifiable game creatures on the planet..... there are even humans who are pretty game and have shown to be so in the battlefields and in the ring. The beatings I have seen taken by Troy Dorsey and Little Red Lopez would give you chill bumps. There are dog people, many of whom have shown high degrees of gameness. Jim Culbertson and Jean Carpenter, Jan and Jeff Rogers are some of the gamest humans beings I know of. Amongst the animal kingdom, there are only a few desperately game creatures. Some of the bears will take a killing against there own kind, it is said to be rare indeed and usually over breeding rights or territory. The wolverine is also a tenacious adversary against almost any other creature, including its own kind. His ability to run a wolf or a Grizzly bear off its kill is often referred to by those who study the beast, as a mad rage knowing no fear, but it sure looks like a form of gameness to me. There are factors involved in gameness that I feel also diminish the degree. Gamecocks, for example, have no interest in fighting certain times of the year. Female dogs in season often show lesser degrees of gameness and often show no desire for action during this time. You will often see a very different dog due to hormonal influence or fluctuations throughout the year. Working dogs of all kinds show varying degrees of gameness. Certain members of the terrier families show to be very game, but this is often varmint game rather than gameness to there own kind.
The more I am around the Patterdale Terrier, the more convinced I am that they posses a very high degree of gameness, especially to any creature they end up in a hole with. They certainly show to be dead-game in a high percentage of cases where they should come out of the hole and just won't do it. The old time pack Airedale was notorious for running a big cat for 5 or 6 hours, the keeping him treed for another hour or so and maybe even engaging the cat, only to be killed before the cat could be killed. Many a hog dog has made a catch with its insides dragging the ground from a bad hog. All these things illustrate the most misunderstood traits I know of. On a recent nature show about the tiger, there was a story of a naturalist studying the tiger in India where he is considered the king of beasts. Seems there are wild dogs there similar to the cape dogs of Africa, which are considered to be the most effective pack hunters on the planet. A pack of fifteen of these Asian wild dogs came upon a mature make tiger, with a deer he had killed. The tiger would not relinquish his kill and killed several dogs before they had killed him. The observer was so amazed by this unusual and almost unheard of wild canine behavior that he observed them for several days. They didn't leave the kill until the deer, the tiger, and all the dead dogs were totally consumed and not one bite was shared with the buzzards. Pretty game pack of dogs when you consider their very existence depends on survival of the species where gameness acts as a negative factor. Another game dog of a different kind is the sled dog, not just the ones who run the Iditarod, but those who earn there keep in the harsh arctic conditions. While many bulldog people look down their noses at the weight pull dogs, I have seen instances when they showed a lot of heart by just breaking the cart, much less pulling it through. Gameness in our dogs often seems to be relative to time, place and condition of the dog. Many people who use game-dogs in working situations will leave them home when they see they are having an off day. I've seen all types of people in the dog game and all sorts of ideas on gameness. To the perfectionist, nothing short of crawling across while taking his last breathe is good enough.
Gamenss is a subject surrounded by philosophy, ideas and misinformation. In spite of all this and the fact that dog fighting is illegal, I believe it is indeed a very important part of our dogs and any of us dumb enough to try and preserve our breed, should try and keep them game as possible. The second verse to this statement, is the fact that this is not only a very elusive trail, but one that seems to bounce around in the gene pool and the game ones seem to come where you find them. Probably the gamest families I've seen over the years are Walter Komosinski and Jim Usletons dog's. They seemed pretty consistent in there day, but certainly were not 100%. They are also all but gone today as far as I know. Like Floyd Boudreaux recently said in a group discussion we were having at a confirmation dog show in Louisiana, "They just don't breed true." In other words, you can breed the gamest bitch you know to the gamest male and not not get one offspring that is game. Many years ago, another very game dog-man I know, known as Danny Burton and myself, were observing and event where a spectator was calling a dog named Bad Billy a cur, etc. Big Danny turned to me in a voice everyone heard "You know that guy probably ain't one tenth as game as that dog, even if he does quit." I say, "Amen to that and long live the game American Pit Bull Terriers and those who appreciate him for what he is." Quote on gameness Joe Corvino said...."Expect them to quit son and when they don't, then think how glad you will be." Maurice Carver said on game fowl.... "You cant expect those hens to fight or even be game. They are just carrying the gene like your bulldog bitches." Gary Hammonds said.... "Heat and Fatigue will stop more dogs than injury."
- Gary Hammonds