I didn’t used to see much danger in one that was vicious, I knew a Bulldog could hurt a man but I don’t think I realized how bad, I wasn’t afraid of one. Now I’m a lot more wary of a maneater, they really can hurt you, even kill you. I honestly don’t believe that a grown man could get a sixty-five pound Bulldog off without a weapon, if it decided to attack him.
LESTER HUGHES, Old Mountain Man Kennels
Monday, June 1, 2015
“The very first time I saw Zebo, he bit me” Mr. Hughes began. “Me and William Cable had come to Lonzo’s house to look at his dogs. Lonzo had his dogs tied along a narrow path, and if you got one step the wrong way, they could reach you. I started walking along the path behind Lonzo towards the dogs and stopped and asked him if any of the dogs could get to us. “No, and they wouldn’t bite you no how” he answered, and we kept walking. We went a few steps further and a black dog hit the end of his chain and grabbed me by the arm. I swung my fist and punched him in the jaw, knocking him off, and that was the very first time I laid eyes on Zebo.
Willie Brown was there with his wife and daughter, he and Lonzo were rolling out a bunch of dogs. They rolled one of Willie’s bitches on Lena, that was Zebo’s sister and then they rolled Vindicator and Zebo. It was a short roll the way those dogs were hurting each other; it couldn’t have gone very long without them killing each other. Vindicator was really punishing Zebo’s front legs, but Zebo was hurting Vindicator’s nose, putting holes in his muzzle the size of my little finger and the blood was running all over. Vindicator was Lonzo’s favorite, but I asked Willie privately which dog he liked better, and he said he’d seen them both rolled before and he liked Zebo the best. I liked the dog real good, but I didn’t buy Zebo that day.
I went back a couple of months later and Lonzo had rolled Zebo on a dog that weighed about eighty-five pounds, I believe. His shoulder had been messed up really bad.”
Mrs. Hughes adds, “His one leg was just sort of hanging there, it looked like it had near about been tore right off.”
“I bought Zebo and took him home. William Cable took him to his vets and had his shoulder reconstructed. The surgery cost seventy-five dollars, which was a lot of money back then. Lonzo let me have Zebo on time; I paid him so much one month, then so much another month until it was all paid. He still leads people to believe I still owe him for Zebo, but I paid him every penny.
At a later date I went back and bought four female pups from Lonzo, off Mike and Angie, and paid for those on time too. But I held back twenty dollars on each pup when I paid him because Willie Brown told me I’d never see the papers on them, that Lonzo wouldn’t spend the money to send for them and that’s the story of the eighty dollars I owe Lonzo Pratt.
Out of the five dogs I bought from Lonzo I got three really good ones, I give him a plus for that. Any time you buy five dogs from a man you’re more than likely to get five curs than three good dogs. Lonesome won two, and another bitch was dead game and died in a kennel fight. Of the two that didn’t work out, one was cold and the other one fought fifteen minutes and then quit.
After his shoulder was all healed, I matched Zebo. His first fight was an easy one; the match was against a friend of mine that I’d been in the service with at forty pounds. The dog he brought was really about a thirty-five pounder that weighed forty pounds, and Zebo killed it in seventeen minutes.
Bob Finley had a two time winner called Pete, and we matched at forty-two pounds. Pete had won his fights at a higher weight, and Zebo came in at forty-one and three quarters, which was too heavy for him. He was a good, strong, hardbiting dog or he’d have been in trouble. Zebo killed Pete in twenty-six minutes.
His next was into my friend from the service again, and that was a pretty good fight, but Zebo won in about thirty minutes and that dog died too. His dog was real game and would have scratched at the end of the fight, if he could have. I don’t believe that man messed with anymore Bulldogs after that, he was into the law pretty heavy, still is if he hasn’t retired. And I don’t mean he’s a deputy sheriff or anything like that, he’s up in the top bracket of the law.
Junior Bush called and said he had a match for Zebo in Alabama, against a feller by the name of Eslinger that was into the dogs pretty heavy at that time. We turned em’ loose, and when that feller seen what was happening, I saw he kinda felt like he’d been set up. He walked over to where I was standing and said “That one can kill a dog, can’t he?” And I replied; Yeah, just recently he killed two. And if you don’t pick yours up, he’ll kill him too. And Zebo did, winning the fight in twenty-three minutes.
Dave and Roger Adams had saw Zebo the day he fought in Alabama. Dave looked him over, pointed to his back end and asked me why he didn’t have any scars there. I answered; as far as I know, no dog has ever got to his back end. He called me after the match wanting to buy Zebo and I told him that I didn’t want to sell the dog. He made me an offer, and I made him an offer that I did not believe he would pay for the dog, and that was the end of the conversation.
I was eating breakfast the next morning and looked out the window to see Dave Adams’ car pull into the yard, he’d come for Zebo. He wanted to get Zebo off the chain himself, a few moments later I saw him running away from Zebo’s spot. Zebo had almost bit him and ran him off. I had to load Zebo in their car myself. They hadn’t brought a box or crate with them, and when they left Zebo was riding in the front seat between them, looking out the window. I was wondering if by the time they got to Ohio either of them would have any face left!”
Mr. Hughes shakes his head, laughing and continues; “They matched him into that Greaser dog, who I believe was a four time winner. And there was a good story behind that, each side trying to set the other side up. I was supposed to drive up to see the match, but my car broke down somewhere in Virginia so I just turned around and went back home. About three in the morning, the phone rang and it was Dave Adams. I thought Zebo had quit and jumped the pit, and he must have been really mad at me to call at that hour. He said; “You’re never gonna believe what ole Zebo did!”, and before he could say anything else, I told him; Well, I like him, so just send him back to me if you don’t want him! What he’d called for was to tell me that Zebo had gone three pounds uphill and won in just under two hours.
After that was when Dave Adams’ son got hurt, and Zebo did bite that boy. I saw his face and Zebo bit him pretty good and he sold Zebo to a feller named Johnson. I believe Zebo won two more after that; One against a nephew of his out of Cush, in eighteen minutes.
Zebo was about the hardest biting dog I ever saw and liked the chest. Once he’d get in the chest one wasn’t gonna get him out of there, and if they did, it would be so weak from the punishment it couldn’t do much of anything else anymore. When a dog was going down Zebo would get on the front legs shake so hard it would look like the dog wasn’t even touching the ground. He could adopt any style a dog had; if a dog fought the mouth it wouldn’t stay there for long, Zebo bit so hard the dog would get out of the mouth pretty fast and try something else.
When I got him, Zebo’s teeth were worn down flat, but his cutters were as long and thick as my little finger to the second joint, and I’m not exaggerating. He’d kill a dog, and there wouldn’t be a drop of blood. I don’t remember seeing much blood in any of his fights.
I don’t believe there would have been much competition in the Greaser match if he hadn’t had so much of a weight advantage over Zebo. They say he survived and was retired to stud, and maybe he was. But I never did hear anyone much more tell of him or any pups off of him.
Zebo would bite, he’d bite you or he’d bite a stranger. Not every time mind you, there’d be times he was just as friendly as a puppy. But if you walked up to him and his eyes got real wide and round, the only way to keep from getting bit was to get the hell away from him fast! When he bit, he didn’t just chomp and turn the hold loose. He’d work it like he was on a dog, hold and shake.
One time some big ol’ boy from South Carolina was here to look at the dogs with some friends. I guess he weighed about two hundred and fifty pounds; big, all muscle, you know? We started to look at the Bulldogs, and he went right towards Zebo. Back then we had him chained out there by the old apple tree. I called after him, “Don’t touch that dog, he’ll bite you!” He answered, “I train dogs for a living, and there aint a dog in the world that I can’t pet.” And I told him; well, you can’t pet THAT one. He looked at Zebo and said “this little dog is friendly, look at the way his tail’s a waggin’!” I said; he’s just anticipatin’ how good he’s gonna enjoy biting you!
Me and the other fellers walked up the hill towards the other dogs, and we didn’t get but about ten feet before I heard that boy scream. He was holding his arm up and there was Zebo hanging from it, shaking. I had to get a breaking stick to get him off, I don’t believe there was any way that boy, big as he was, could’ve got Zebo off and eventually Zebo would have gotten him down.”
We all laugh and Mrs. Hughes talks about Zebo. “Zebo was our house dog, that was before we had any children, and he used to ride with us in the car. I’d put him in the back seat, but he’d never stay there. He’d jump into the front seat and sit in my lap, looking out the window and popping his jaws, you know how they do that when their excited or nervous? He’d scare me sometimes doing that, his head a few inches from my face and those jaws just popping and quivering. It would get so I couldn’t stand it anymore, and would just throw him back in the back seat. But he’d just jump right back up between us and climb into my lap again.
One day we were on our way somewhere and I was throwing him back, and he was jumping back into my lap, over and over again. Lester got so mad at the two of us fightin’ so, he hit the brakes, turned around and went back home. He let us BOTH out of the car and drove away!”
“I don’t believe you could have reached out with your hand and touched me on the shoulder before Zebo’d have your finger,” Mr. Hughes goes on, “I was walking him in the parking lot before the fight in Alabama and Junior Bush came up to shake hands with William Cable. When their hands met, Zebo had both of them by the hand, didn’t put much pressure, just grabbed their hands quick.” Mr. Hughes turns to his wife, “What match was it I brought Zebo home and put him up in the room in the barn, and he tore everything up and ate the telephone?”
Mrs. Hughes thinks about it, and answers; “I don’t remember, but I do remember the time you brought him back from a match with his head swollen up like a melon and his eyes swollen about shut. We had a little black cat at the time, and it was somewhere ion the house when Lester carried Zebo in. We didn’t think Zebo could see at all, but as soon as Lester sat him down, he was off!”
“Him tearin’ after that cat, and me after him, tryin’ to catch him before he caught the cat!” Mr. Hughes adds. “Another time a bunch of us were driving back from a match with Zebo. Everyone but the driver fell asleep, and we’d left Zebo loose, figuring he was hurt so bad he’d just lay there and rest. When we woke up, Zebo had chewed his harness and ate part of it. And chewed my belt right off me while I was asleep and ate part of it. It tickled William Cable to death; he thought it was really funny till he looked around for his sweater to put on. He had one of those expensive sweaters with the leather patches on the elbows. Zebo had ate every bit of the leather off, and ate the collar off it too. William wasn’t laughing anymore after he found his sweater!
One time I didn’t have much bet on one of Zebo’s fights so I gave Evelyn all the money to bet. I knowed nobody was gonna bet against me, and you know how people are, they see a dumb lookin’ woman trying to bet and they’ll take the bet.” Mrs. Hughes continues, “I’d never bet on a fight, and didn’t know how. Everyone was calling out bets and I just stood there. Zebo won in less than half an hour and I hadn’t got a single nickel bet!”
We asked Mr. Hughes what Zebo produced while he had him, and why in his opinion, Zebo is not known as a very good producer. “I never bred Zebo to any outside bitches while I had him, but I did breed him to two or three bitches here. I bred him to a bitch of Bruce King’s and we got some good ones. One got poisoned, one hung itself, and two accidentally drowned. I believe they would have been winners. I bred him to Lonesome, and got a bunch of good dogs that I never could get matched. They were all about his size. Gator was one of them, and he was about the closest thing to Zebo that I ever saw as far as mouth went. I rolled him on his brother Blue, who was another good one, but Gator ruined him. He literally tore off part of his muzzle; teeth, bone and all. Blue never recovered and I finally had to put him to sleep. I didn’t match Gator because he got loose and got on a dog on a chain down by the river. I had a broken leg at the time and couldn’t get there fast enough to break it up before Gator’s teeth were ruined.
Old Mountain Man
Gr Ch Zebo (7x) ROM