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Sherri and Belle.
Sherri (left) and Bella (right) arrived near Lahti, Finland, July 25th 1964. They were six months old and the first Stafford bitches imported to Finland.
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Brutus age 4-1/2 years circa 1969.

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Brutus & Bella.
Bandits Firestreak Red Rover and Bandits Belle-lettres (Brutus & Bella)

Stafford Cornerstones

The photo above is the same one that appears in the Pounds/Rant book except that Steve Eltinge reversed it to put Bella (Bandits Belle-lettres) on the left instead of on the right. This photo greatly favors Brutus (Bandits Firestreak Red Rover) while doing less than justice to Bella.

Terry asked the weight and heights of Brutus and Bella. I thought you'd never ask! Brutus was 15 1/2 inches and 36 pounds in iron-hard condition and Bella was 13 1/2 inches and 22 pounds in iron-hard condition, their permanent state.

John Gordon had exported Brutus to Bill Hackleman of San Francisco before my return to the States in 1966, but Bill had some problems that required him to give the dog up, so shortly after I arrived in Pasadena, Bill called me and arranged the transfer of the two and half year old to our household. By phone John Gordon informed me that Brutus would be good enough to place in the Limit Class at an English Championship show under a good judge, and Brutus was indeed that good, if not better. He was a solid dog in every aspect of that word, physically, temperamentally, and every other way.

Bill Hackleman & Brutus.
Bandits Firesteak Red Rover (Brutus) just after he was imported as an immature adult by Bill Hackleman of San Francisco, 1965. Bill let me have Brutus after a divorce and then completely vanished despite my many attempts to locate him.

It is quite impossible to compare either or both to present-day Staffords because externally they were always kept in iron-hard condition, a rarity these days, (the difference between a corpulent Stafford and a fit Stafford is so great that it has to be seen to be believed) and internally, neither had or carried any kind of hereditary condition or disease (HD or other), unlike so many of today's dogs -- so I believe it would be an exercise in futility because comparison would be unfair to both them and to living Staffords.

When prospective buyers came to visit, the men always glommed onto Brutus who was friendly but not clinging. Bella, on the other hand, would appraise the wife to a T and would, depending on the wife's inner state, spring to her side lightly as a feather on the couch and lie there, touching the wife, motionless -- or would sit by the wife's feet resting her head lightly on the wife's knee. Sometimes she would gently lick the wife's hand, and sometimes she would simply gaze into her eyes. But Bella always treated the wife exactly as she knew the wife wanted. You had to see it to believe it. On occasion we had three or four prospective buyers in one day, and Bella never failed to divine what kind of behavior the wife wanted from her. And that was critical because in most cases the wife makes the final decision about the purchase of a family pet.

Now I can hear some of you thinking (shouting??): "Thirteen and half inches? Why, you couldn't give me a bitch that size!" No danger -- nobody in the world could have got her from me at any price -- literally.

"Thirteen and half inches? Why, you couldn't give me a bitch that size!" If you consider the missing half-inch a fault, you could fault her there-- but in no other way. However, the lack of faults constitutes small solace, indeed, because what one wants in a Stafford is not the absence of faults but the presence of the corresponding virtues, and these Bella had in abundance and in excelsis. Think of something (other than size) -- anything at all -- you'd like in a Stafford, and Bella not only had it but had it in spades.

Bella - She was a nonpareil.

It was Bella, and none other, who gave me the necessary fire in the belly to launch the organized Staffordshire Bull Terrier movement, first in Finland and then in the USA. If John Gordon had not sent precisely that particular bitch to Finland for me, chances are that not one American reading this message would ever have known of Staffordshire Bull Terriers, much less owned one.

She was a nonpareil.

Steve Stone