This is a Long post but the story needs to be told... I call it “0 to 100”.
I think I’m finally starting to wrap my head around what happened... We finally won a Best In Show at NATIONALS! We have won quite a few shows over the years and even some big wins at Nationals events but the National Best of Breed and Best In Show had eluded us. In 2011 Homie won the Champion class but then lost vs Clydesdale. In 2012 Beastro won the Grand Champion class only to come up short vs Master Shifu. After that we managed to successfully campaign Beastro and Buss to the number one rank for three consecutive years. Beastro in 2013 and 2014. Thee Buss in 2015. In that period of time we accumulated nearly 100 best of breeds between the two but no Nationals Best of Breed, let alone Best In Show. My brother and I wondered if we’d ever get one.
By 2016 we started reevaluating things at Bully Market and having accomplished so much in the show ring we made the choice to stop showing and focus more on our breedings and infrastructure. Shortly after that I resigned as a judge for the same reason. Campaigning dogs and judging events takes a lot of time, energy and money. I loved the experiences that came with all that but there were other goals that we wanted to accomplish and to accomplish them we needed our energies pin point focused. Not spread thin. It wasn’t a goodbye. More like a see ya’ later. We didn’t have a typical Bully Market year as far as traveling to shows but did what we needed to do and more so we killed it.
2017 came around and we liked the results that 2016 produced so we planned to do pretty much the same thing... Not do much showing or judging and focus on building our program and improving our infrastructure. It was a great plan but we got punched in the mouth right away. Buss had inflammation in his prostate that caused some blood to be present in his semen. This isn’t totally uncommon in a stud Dog but it was the first ever issue with Buss. We set out to take care of it right away and took him to the vet which prescribed him medication (Baytril and Finasteride). We put him on the meds and hoped he’d be back to normal within a month or so.
Unfortunately that wasn’t case. After about a month on the medications I started to notice he was getting thinner. I was advised to keep him on the meds to fully get him right. But after not much longer I started noticing hot spots on his coat. Which eventually turned into red scabby sores. His belly turned pink, then red. His feet and ears were pink, inflamed and yeasty. My friend and mentor Oscar Gomez recommended me a tip to switch to a salmon formula and we did which seemed to help the skin some but his weight continued to decline. Buss is the type of dog that could fast for two days and still look thick but it was to the point where he was sucked up and looking smaller than I’ve ever seen him before. The hairs on his face started to grey. Took him in for a semen evaluation and there was no blood... but it was all dead. I thought to myself if this gets much worse he is gong to die!
There was still weeks worth of meds left to take but we discontinued immediately. I had the feeling that he was having some sort of reaction to the very medication that was supposed to help him.
After being off the medication we started to notice improvement almost right away. After a while he had a better appetite and started putting his weight back on but he still seemed like he was having allergies which he’s never shown us any symptoms of before. I felt like the medication had compromised his immune system. We decided to put him outside and in a kennel so he could get more sunlight but also stay away from females in heat stressing him out. We also took him in for an allergy test and he was off the charts for all sorts of foods. Foods we had always fed him with no issues but we made the adjustments to the diet. In addition to the kibble change we supplemented him things like vitamin C, shark cartilage, sea kelp and cannabis oil. He slowly but surely started coming back to normal. His semen was good again, his coat was better, no more yeast infections and he started putting his weight back on. A little too much weight. He got fat but I didn’t mind because he was healthy in every other aspect than being overweight and a far cry from the shriveled up Buss from earlier in the year.
That was mid summer and with all I had going on at that point Nationals was the last thing on my mind. Originally I wanted to bring three dogs and in the past we’ve always found a way to make it happen when it comes to shows but the overwhelming amount of work on our plate had me second guessing the approach and if we’d even make it to the show at all. It wasn’t until about 4 or 5 weeks ago that I started seriously contemplating Nationals again. I was still unsure if we were going to go but I knew that if we did we needed to start getting ready NOW and considering where Buss was, we had a lot of work to do.
I started running him a mile or so a day and he was definitely out of shape. I got busy and sent him with Nubbz for some work outs and he said “he wouldn’t be able to make it to Best or Breed right now.” Thee Buss didn’t have enough gas in the tank! That was the cue to kick it up a notch to two to three work outs per day and with my schedule, I needed help getting them done. My whole team rose to the occasion and we all had each others backs to make sure Buss got his work outs. When someone couldn’t do it someone else on the team stepped in and made sure he was getting conditioned. By the time show week was upon us we had him running a few miles a day. He was starting to look like his old self again but in my head I was regretting not starting his training sooner. Still, he’s such a special dog I felt like he had a good shot.
By the time it was show day I was feeling good about Buss especially after we got to the show and I did a few practice gaits with him. People were shocked to see him, to see me, to see us. Buss hadn’t shown in over a year and a half and I hadn’t shown since 2015 ABKC Nationals but no one should have been surprised. We made a lot of moves in silence when we campaigned. But this time there was so much down time we were a little rusty. Me more than him, that’s for sure but I feel like he was at about 85% going into the show. I wanted to have him a little more conditioned and quite a bit more muscled but I still felt good about our chances.
Rolando Mata was making quick work in the American Bully ring and Buss and I were almost up. I kneeled down in front of him and visualized what we needed to do. We both felt good and relaxed going into our class. Once we got in the ring I just wanted to have fun with him and keep him loose. The classes were packed with great dogs and people were packed around the ring watching. Buss was victorious in GrCh Pocket class and in the overall GrCh class. Here we go again... Another chance for this elusive Nationals Best of Breed.
Buss was a little tired but still had plenty of gas left in his tank and he was happy so I was feeling good about our chances. At that point everything was kind of a blur but a couple more laps around ring and Buss was the National Best of Breed winner! When we campaigned, the Best of Breed was the important thing to me. Best In Show was the gravy on the potatoes. Stuck in my old ways I started to slip up and lose focus. Celebrating in my head a little early. Luckily we were able to refocus and Buss was able to cross the finish line with a Nationals Best In Show win! We finally did it!
Afterwords, kneeled down in front of Buss again. All sorts of things were crossing my mind. Mostly all the challenges we had faced earlier in the year and recently. Some mentioned here in this story and much not. It literally brought a tear to my eyes. I tried to hide it and Christopher Jamesaka Bully The Kid caught me said to let it out. Still trying to regain my composure Ty Lumley walks up and says something like “stop crying mother fucker and take this big ass trophy”. I’ve never shed a tear at show but this was special. This wasn’t just showing up to one big show and winning. This was almost a decade of blood, sweat and grind with these dogs coming to culmination. We’ve won the Top Dog award. Three of them to be exact. That’s a long grind and action packed but it’s more methodical and drawn out. Winning at Nationals was a quick jolt of energy and it was one of the most exhilarating feelings. Especially with the way it all went down. I had my concerns but in the end the plan was executed to perfection.
After the show I was hit with a barrage of messages, texts, calls and social media notifications. It was an amazing feeling getting the outpouring of support from so many people that I respect and don’t know personally alike and people are still messaging! If you’ve made it to reading this far you’re probably one of those people and I want to say I truly appreciate all of you! It really means a lot to me and our whole camp.
Full of gratitude for so much. Where to start...
First and foremost all the glory be to the Most High! Secondly, my team, past and present, I appreciate all the contributions made for Bully Market to get to the point that it is. Especially my wife Cassandra Jade Lee and Jonathon Houfek aka. Young Nubbz. I get a lot of credit for our success becauseI post to social media but the importance of their contributions can’t be overstated.
I also have to give special thanks to Dima Yam, Eric Nichols and Johnny JRiv Rivera who really helped at Nationals. From treats, to helping watch our booth while we weren’t there, to holding on to those big ass trophies until we get them shipped home, they came through clutch for us.
The judges. Ty Lumly and Rolando Mata are two judges that I respect for their knowledge of the breed and the work they continue to put in for the breed. To get this win under the two of them just validated it that much more and made it more special.
The ABKC. The ABKC has provided bully fanciers with a platform to showcase our dogs for over a decade now and this Nationals was probably the biggest I’ve been to since 2009. What a show!
The co-creator. We did an outside the box collaboration with Nolan Cagwinand it made history. Not only is Thee Buss is currently the only dog to win Nationals and Top Dog, he is a prepotent producer.
Our friends and supporters. Through thick and thin. Ups and downs. Year after year. I see familiar and new faces commenting, liking, calling, texting... I appreciate all of it and I truly appreciate each and every one of you. You guys are amazing.
The haters. I feed off the hate and let it fuel my fire to keep crushing it! You’re all amazing too. I never like to make a post this long but I wanted to share because the story needed to be told. It’s real and it’s from the heart. No matter what challenges you’re facing in life, don’t ever give up. Things won’t always be easy and sometimes you have to weather the storm but your conflicts help create you. Embrace them and keep grinding! 0 to 100!
As for Thee Buss it’s back to retirement. But this time I won’t let him get fat.
I’m going to end this the only way I know how for a post like this...
BULLY MARKET, where it’s ALWAYS a Bull Market!!