The road to meeting Dexter was an interesting experience.
My last dog Dante passed away in December of 2013. After a month or so I began considering getting another dog. The new friend had to fit a number of criteria that I would require from my dog:
- I prefer mastiff breeds for their power, size, guard dog qualities and for their relaxed attitude in the house.
- It would have to be an active breed that can keep up with my activity level.
- A breed that would have the desire and drive to do obedience and protection training and enjoy the process.
- A breed that is established well enough in Unites States to allow for a large enough scope of choices and tested, proven parents.
- A breed that would be good with children. Mastiffs tend to be good with kids due to their size, tolerance to pain and annoyance and house activity levels.
After some research and from my previous experience, I settled on a Cane Corso. It is a lighter and more agile mastiff, males averaging at about 120 lb. The name Corso implies corsing mastiff and therefore is a breed that possesses the endurance, size and drive for an active and strong breed. In addition, there have been a few Cane Corsos coming up in the world of Schutzhund and PSA and demonstrating great abilities (Alla Zilberg’s Safir was definitely great example and inspiration). Few other mastiff breeds, from my research, have demonstrated same level of abilities in dog sports.
After inquiring about breeders and breed lines, I met Alla Zilberg on Facebook who has been very successful with her Cane Corso Safir. She has reached a high level of IPO3 with her male Corso. Through her, I was referred to Joe and Renee Liberty Cane Corso.
With a referral, I reached out to Joe. During our first conversation, I warned him that I will annoy the shit out of him with questions and details about his dogs, breeding program and his dog’s abilities and achievements. Joe’s response was the first indication of a responsible breeder. He was happy to answer all my questions and respected and appreciated my concerns and diligence. My list of questions was as follows (I continued asking over several conversations and online chats)
- Do they perform hip, elbow and knee tests on their dogs and if yes, which tests do they go for.
- What is an average longevity of their dogs.
- Are their dogs house kept or are kennel dogs.
- Does he require a contract for a working dog, show dog or pet owners.
- What are the specifics of the contract… such as co-ownership, spay/neuter requirements.
- At what age do they allow the puppies to be taken.
- Would it be ok for me to come out and meet his dogs (on several occasions; I think it is important to visit breeder’s home/facilities before you make a decision to buy the dog from them. The condition of the house and facility indicates to me the quality and responsibility of the breeder.)
- Do they concentrate on show or working trials? If yes, in what way and what is their preference.
Eventually Joe told me that he had two litters coming up Fifty x Lola and Brutus x Josie. According to our agreement, I would get the best working prospect from either litter.
I was lucky… Fifty x Lola had 7 puppies with 4 boys and Brutus x Josie had 5 boys.
I visited Joe and Renee when puppies were about 3-4 weeks old and got a chance to spend some time playing with Brutus. His drive and intensity were very impressive and combined with Josie’s (I’ve met her on my previous trip to Joe’s house) drive and conformation got me very excited for their puppies.
When puppies were 7-8 weeks old, I and my friend and experienced dog trainer Mike came to see the puppies and hopefully make a pick. After looking at several puppies we settled on 2. First was the pick of the litter formentino boy with high drive, alpha attitude and impeccable conformation. Second, was a darker boy, who was the “runt” and a bit smaller. He was extremely stable and unfazed by anything. When we let both boys play tug using a cloth, the darker one took a deep bite and held on. Formentino took as strong of a hold but was more excited and shook the rag. Both puppies were eager to chase, play and were comfortable with full set of jingling keys (darker one even grabbed them and played dug), dropped objects on the floor and being handled. However, while formentino displayed rebellious tough attitude, the darker one was more willing to please and tolerated being handled, checked and held down. Both puppies exhibit an amazing recovery time from any new experience or stress. They bounced back to playing, exploring and running around.
Mike and I were really impressed with both puppies, but both agreed that the darker one will be easier to train and is a better candidate for me and my life.
And thus after 24 hours of consideration I let Joe know that I want the darker smaller guy with a shorter muzzle.
Say Hello to Dexter