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~ Towans Red Knave ~

Towans Red Knave.

A photograph of "Red" at 11 months of age.

Former Sociology Professor Jack Crowther (Cal State Northridge) became one of the very early converts to Staffords before the formation of the SBTC/USA. For Jack and his wife Betty, I imported Towans Red Knave (SBTC/USA registration #35) from George Smith of Loughborough, England, and "Red" grew to be an extremely athletic 16-inch dog in the days long before showing became possible.

Jack recalls that about six months after "Red" arrived, they bought a new RV and went into the boonies to test it out. While in the mountains they ran low on gas and stopped at a local filling station.

A young college-age fellow began pumping gas for them, and suddenly said to Jack, "Say, mister, I bet I know what kind of dog that is."

Jack knew perfectly well that the known Stafford population of the United States at that time was less than 75, so he replied, "Betcha don't!"

"Betcha I do."

Restraining himself from the temptation to win a wager from a minor, Jack said, "Okay, then, what is it?"

"A Staffordshire Bull Terrier."

After a moment's stunned silence, Jack retorted, "Betcha I know who your English teacher is!"

Jack also recounts how Red used to run after Jack's motorcycle when they went to the desert, and on occasion, if Jack would throttle down, Red would cover 25 miles at a run. One day, when Jack and Betty had volunteered to judge a motorcycle race, Red suddenly decided to chase the competitors' machines as they departed. Jack was fit to be tied because due to judging duties he couldn't follow Red. But he expected the dog to return soon.

Red did return -- that night. He had followed the competitors' motorcycles for the full thirty-mile circuit, which Jack had already verified because he got sighting reports from route judges. Red's nails were worn down and he needed a drink but had to be restrained from following other motorcyclists traveling the second leg of the race.

Red's favorite thing was swimming in the Crowthers' pool. He got so swim-crazy that Jack refused to let him get into the pool without the release words, "Alright, Red." Soon the release word became simply "Alright." After that, whenever guests came over, they had to be cautioned about using the word "Alright" even in casual conversation because as soon as anyone uttered the word, it was followed by a splash.

Jack and Red had a favorite sport, Stafford Wrestling, which they would play with guests and students who came to the house. Jack would place Red on his back on the floor, paws up, then instruct three or four strong males to hold him tightly and not let him get up when Jack called him. Only once or twice were the visitors able to hold Red down, and that was when they were four or five on one. And of course Red was never upset, he just knew that "Come, Red!" wasn't a debatable point.

Red was also a sire prepotent for athleticism, as the following anecdote shows, but first let me make it known that I am a major cat-lover although re-telling this story may make it seem otherwise:

The backyard swimming pool, enclosed on three sides by high brick walls, was the favorite haunt of King, Red's first-born son. King would paddle by the hour in it.

But King's ointment contained a mammoth fly in the form of the neighbor's cat which would climb a tree on the other side of the brick wall, then walk along a limb that stuck out near the pool. The cat would crouch on the limb and drive King frantic by taunting him with meows and catcalls. Repeatedly King would jump four and a half feet off the ground in vain attempts to reach the cat on the limb, but no dog of 16 inches had a prayer of jumping eight feet off the ground, so King seemed doomed to a life of perpetual frustration.

One day after three or four months of this, King"s owners were sunning themselves after a dip when they saw the cat emerge onto the limb and begin taunting King as usual. But to their amazement, King who was lying almost directly under the cat, paid no attention -- didn't even look in the critter's direction.

Everyone sat in amazement as the cat began to yowl and yammer, trying to entice King into futile rage, but the dog was having none of it. He seemed to have turned into marble.

Suddenly, without sign or warning, King  leaped about five feet high onto the brick wall, reverse-caromed off it up onto the level of the limb of the tree, and before anyone realized what was happening, King had the luckless kitty between his jaws so that by the time the dog's feet touched the ground the limp feline had already passed from the travails of this cruel world.

Steve Stone


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