Some time ago Jeff asked me to write up a column on my experience with his Kennel.  I told him I’d be glad to and figured I would type up a few dozen words and that would be that.   What actually happened… was I ended up writing a novella.   Thankfully… I was able to edit it down.

When I first set out to write, I realized that I was making Jeff’s behavior seem a little crazy.  And at the time I probably agreed with that assessment.  But now its over a year later… and I’ve spent that time with my big goofy dogo… and now I have a completely different perspective.  Jeff wasn’t being crazy.  He was being responsible.

Dogos are different.  Ask yourself… if you sold mountain lions to folks… how much research would you do before you could sell someone one of those big cats before you could sleep well at night?  Keep that standard in mind and consider that Dogos can, and have, killed mountain lions in one on one fights.   Dogos are not the biggest dogs in the world.  Though, they are very big.  Dogos are not the fastest dogs in the world.  Though, they are very fast.  Dogos are not the strongest dogs in the world.  Though, they are very strong.  But they may be the bravest dogs in the world.  And they have an endurance that as best I can tell has no end what-so-ever.  On top of all of those amazing physical attributes what makes a dogo a dogo is heart.  Heart, In all the many meanings of that term, is what Dogos have in spades. 

Ever wonder what it would look like if you put Rocky’s heart in Ivan Drago’s body?    That’s a Dogo.

My own experience began with months of research to find what I considered to be a real dogo.  Having much experience with American breeders and their normal problems I was very skeptical and I dug hard into the background of all of the breeders I found.  It didn’t take long to rule out most of the breeders.  They had dogs with spots on them in their pictures, which is simply not acceptable in Dr Martinez’s original breed standard.  In others you could see the bite was wrong.  Other times it would look good on the internet but a quick 15 minute conversation convinced me I was not dealing with someone that produced what I was looking for.

Then on pure chance I came across Jeff Schaffer.  I was not hopeful but Ishot him an email and told him a little bit about my background with dogs and told him what I was looking for.  We exchanged a few emails and then one morning I called him and applied my usual method.  We were basically interviewing each other.  Jeff is a skeptical man, and I am as well.  Never the less we hit it off pretty well in spite of what would should have been an adversarial call when you think about it.  The more I talked to him and learned his story the more I was believing he was the real thing.  I later learned he is far more than that. 

Jeff told me he had a couple of pups and he had a lot of questions for me about what I was looking for in a pup.  It was very important to him that he pick the right pup for me.  That impressed me.  It impressed me more later.   In addition to these questions he asked me to fill out his application… which I did.  As I recall it asked for several personal references.  I filled these out as best I could.

Things got weird about 3 days later when the first of my references, some friends from church, called me to ask about the crazy dog breeder that grilled them.  Not only grilling them, but also asking for additional references from them. 

He had found out from them about the church that I attend and he called my minister… who also called me to let me know.   This went on for a few days.  I would get random calls from folks that always started with the phrase “Hey are y’all getting a dog?”

Occasionally I would get emails from Jeff letting me know about his progress.  It was entertaining to be honest.  He was attacking these references like a homicide detective with a hot lead.  But in his emails he sounded frustrated because he could not get anyone to say anything bad about me or my wife.  I tried to explain that we lived in a town that may as well be Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show.  No way someone was going to say something bad about us over the phone to a stranger.  My preacher told him the same thing.

To a lesser man this would be time to quit but for Jeff it was a red flag of sorts.  He didn’t like it when all he heard was good things.  So he was going to keep trying until someone had something bad to say.  This went on a while longer… and we kept getting those calls.  “hey y’all getting a dog?”

Eventually my own red flags started going up.  With this kind of dog, this process could become a liability issue.  Maybe it already had.  Half the town now knew that we were buying a Dogo Argentino.  Most of them didn’t know what that was but a breeder acting like this had to mean a dangerous dog didn’t it?  One night my wife and I were discussing it and were just about to decide to call it all off.  The next day I got an email from Jeff grudgingly admitting that we must be ok because try as he might he couldn’t’ get anyone to say anything bad about us.    I couldn’t tell if he was happy or irritated.

Looking back on all of that… you would think that I would have a negative impression of Jeff.   I don’t.  Jeff picked the perfect dogo pup for my family.  And was he too careful in vetting us? Well remember that question I asked a few paragraphs ago? How much research would you do before you sold someone a mountain lion? 

You’re talking about a dog that is illegal to own in multiple countries including the United Kingdom.  You’re talking about a dog that is perfectly capable of killing you.  Pit Bulls kill more people than any other dog in the US but compared to Dogos pits are small, weak, slow, and dumb.

Dogos are coveted all over the world by Dog Fighters.  And Dog Fighting is a big deal in the rural south. I’m from the Rural South.  Looking back Jeff had every reason to worry that I couldn’t handle his dog… or worse that I was buying the dog to use in illegal dog fights.

I wrote all of this because I wanted to let you know that the process Jeff tells you about is real.  Its intense.  And… yes… it is completely justified. Don’t think so? Just remember this… if the FBI was as diligent as Jeff Schaffer then Dylan Roof never would’ve been able to buy that gun.

Ziva is my Schaffer Ridge Dogo.   She’s gentle and sweet. She lives in a house with 5 children, the world’s dumbest Labrador, and a chihuahua of all things.   She hasn’t ever hurt any of them.  Not even the rat,  I mean the chichuahua, which antagonizes her without fear or mercy.   She has a huge heart which runs on pure affection.  Dogos crave affection and love the way other dogs crave food.  The affection tells them they are in the pack.  It tells them they belong.  Having a place in the pack is everything to a Dogo.  A dogo will kill and die without a second thought for the pack.

But every pack has a leader.  Every pack has an alpha.   You have to be that alpha.  The Dogo can’t be the alpha.  The Dogo has to know that you and every other human in the pack is on top in the pecking order.   You must be capable of establishing this and maintaining it.   If you can’t… then getting a Dogo is a very bad idea for you.   You better stick to labs and Golden Retrievers.

I have given Jeff all of my contact info, and I have told him that I am available if anyone would like to discuss my experience. 

If you are experienced with large dominant dogs, and you want a real Dogo Argentino… just like Dr Martinez used to breed… well then you came to the right place.

God Speed.

Nathan A. Cherolis