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  1. Chris on July 29, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    Dear Mr. Stratton:

    Hello sir. I pray this note finds you well. I’ve written to you before in the long ago & you were kind enough to send a reply; I was asking about the merits of the bulldog vis-à-vis the Tosa when I was debating the matter with a magazine columnist (I was defending the bulldog, of course!) & you gave me a sage reply to the effect: “Well if they have to breed more bulldog into another breed to make it better, which one is really the better dog?” It was so common sensical & eloquent I’m embarrassed I didn’t think of it!

    First, allow me to thank you for your service to our great country. I remember reading in one of your books you were a paratrooper; most of my family is military, & I have a great admiration of & appreciation for our heroes in uniform & try my best to support them at all times.

    Next, thank you as well for making the decision to write your terrific books about that wonderful dog breed, the American Pit Bull Terrier. I, like you, believe this dog (the gamebred strains) to be the truest living representative of the old-time bulldog from bygone days. As you so wisely state, he does the same things today that he did back then, ergo…we’re looking at the bulldog!

    The first time I ever heard of a pit bull was as a boy in the late 70s; my cousin that lived in Florida (one of those former military family members I alluded to, though that service was quite a few years off in his future at this point) had mentioned “pit bulls” while we were swimming at my aunt’s house. I flatly told him I had no idea what he was talking about, I’d never heard of them! Then he told me they were “fighting dogs” & gave me the old myth that they had “jaws that locked shut”…though I quite understand now how this myth came about!

    I’d already liked dogs, though I never owned one. We did have quite a few cats over the years; one at a time, not a bunch at once, & my grandparents had a farm where we spent quite a bit of time, so I was already passingly familiar with animals, including the dogs on that farm. Well, at least as passingly familiar as a boy could be that didn’t live on the farm, I guess! There were a couple mutts (Bosco & No-Tail), a Basset Hound (Toby), an Afghan Hound (Scarlett), & what I’m pretty sure was…looking back with the current canine knowledge I now possess…a fieldbred Bluetick Coonhound (creatively named Blue). Blue was almost always chained up near his doghouse just off one of the driveways, & my uncle used him to hunt raccoon. In addition to growing corn & tomatoes & other vegetables, the farm supported horses, mules, poultry, & both pigs & cattle…including a bull…but, sadly, no bullDOGS!

    A few years passed & I had quite forgotten all about these “pit bulls” when, one day, while perusing the stacks in my local public library (a place I loved to haunt with alarming frequency as I have always been an avid & voracious reader) my eyes lit upon the spine of a book called “This is The American Pit Bull Terrier,” authored by a man named Richard Stratton. I pulled it out & flipped through it &…you’ve probably heard this a million times by now, but…having never even seen a living example of these dogs as far as I knew, I immediately got the early stages of “Pit Bull Fever”! Thanks to your beautiful writing & all those amazing pictures, of course.

    First chance I got I went out & bought a copy of that book (because I almost couldn’t bear to return it to the library!) & must have read it 50 times. Then I found out you had authored 3 other books about what I was now firmly convinced was the greatest breed of dog the world had ever seen, the gamebred bulldog. Naturally, I bought those too, & read them just as eagerly! Your crisp & approachable writing style made doing that very easy.

    I still own those books & still re-read them from time to time all these years later. They’re wonderful, almost like old friends; I feel like I learned tons about the truth behind this incredible animal, & your words “inoculated me” against so much of the media frenzy that, tragically, has surrounded the breed. Michael Vick didn’t help matters!

    Thank you also for having the courage of these canines in writing those books, as well as battling the forces of ignorance that you did in your court case. Full disclosure, I’m an attorney, I truly felt terrible for you as you described your awful experiences in the court system, & I frankly agree with you that all those laws not only don’t do much, if anything, to stop the matching of dogs (just like prohibition did little to prevent people wanting to have a drink), but in actuality I think they do more harm to society than good, in that they make it near-impossible (or at best, uncomfortable) to turn the amazing gamebred bulldog into a source of open discussion & study.

    I happen to enjoy thoroughbred racehorses too, & a recurring fantasy of mine is: “What if we simply dropped all this foolishness about gamebred bulldogs, thus legalizing the game testing of them, & then we could organize matching of game dogs the way we’ve been doing forever with those great thoroughbreds & their awesome races?” Imagine it! How much better would the sport be, especially for the treatment of the dogs?! It seems like there are a lot of upper class, very wealthy people in game thoroughbred racehorses, while there are a lot of working class, blue collar people in game fighting bulldogs, & to me it’s a real shame those latter people have the law against them, thus not being able to enjoy their chosen sporting activity the same way the people in the former group can. Alas!

    And please understand, I say this not as “against wealth” or wealthy people or anything like that, but simply because it seems so fundamentally unfair & unjust when both activities involve the very ancient contesting of animals only doing what they were so exquisitely bred to do! I know next to nothing about cockfighting (no one has written “This is the American Fighting Chicken” yet, I guess!), but my limited understanding is that that particular sport doesn’t come under fire the way bulldogs do because there are powerful vested interests that partake of it & make sure it isn’t unduly harassed by the law. Don’t know if that’s true or not, but that’s all I got about why people don’t seem unduly alarmed by contesting gamecocks. That & of course I understand not many people keep chickens as pets!

    So in sports where 3 different types of ancient animals of very specialized breeds are contested, one type is lionized (thoroughbreds), one type is ignored (gamecocks), & one type is vilified (bulldogs)! Makes sense, right?! It makes ZERO sense in any rational calculus!

    Before I went to law school, I worked for the US Postal Service & one day, I don’t remember exactly how, a coworker & I wound up “talking bulldogs,” & what do you know but your first book came up in our conversation! It was so refreshing to finally be able to talk to somebody about these incredible dogs! It turned out he’d gotten himself a nice-looking little bitch; if memory serves she was Red Boy/Jocko breeding…if not that specific bloodline, she was definitely down from pit stock…& I think her name was Kelly. As far as I know John never matched her (or even rolled her); I’m almost 100% certain she was a straight-up house pet.

    Be that as it may, there came a point where a guy he knew invited him to a match; I don’t know if it was the guy he bought the pup from, or somebody connected to that guy, or what the story was, & I never asked. But when the invitation came up, he told this fellow that extended the invite about “a guy he worked with” that was into bulldogs & would it be OK for him to tag along. Maybe this is a way a dogman vouches for another? Honestly I have no idea! What I do know is this guy that knew about the match gave John the green light to let me in on it.

    So this was my big chance! I could finally attend one of these fabled matches I’d read so much about! Now, Mr. Stratton, I would LOVE to tell you I went right ahead & lo & behold a future Champion was on the card & it was as terrific as I’d imagined it would be, but…that would all be a lie. I turned the opportunity down! Can you believe it?!

    All I can lamely offer in my defense is even back then before I was a member of the bar I knew the law had teeth, & with my “luck” (notice it’s in quotes!) I just felt like…how do I put this?…I felt like if I went ahead & attended, the joint would get raided just because I was there! Stupid, I know, but that’s how I felt, & if my foreboding turned out to be reality, then I’d have all those dogmen & fanciers blaming me as, probably, some sort of police snitch that led them to the pit! Not that I would even blame them, necessarily, because that’s kind of what it would look like!

    So (sigh) that’s my pathetic “big bulldog story.” Perhaps even more sad, I don’t know if I’ll ever have the pleasure of owning my own gamebred bulldog. I don’t think I’d have the heart to match him (assuming he had the gameness & ability) but, like you, I would only buy one from solid proven pit stock, if only for pride of ownership purposes (not to mention all the other wonderful qualities you so beautifully outlined in your writings). The reason why I likely won’t get the chance is my wife is the furthest thing from an “animal lover” you can get! So, rather than risk domestic strife, I don’t believe I’ll ever be in the situation to own such a great dog.

    That being said, if I were in such a position, I would surely be the proudest bulldog owner you ever saw; also, I know in my heart that if there were any breed of dog that could “evangelize” my beloved wife & convert her to our side on this point, I know that breed would be none other than the gamebred American Pit Bull Terrier…most particularly the individual dog of that breed that I had picked out to share our life. I just know it!

    On that note, I would be honored if a man such as yourself, an “old salt” in the fancy, if you will, would count me as one of those “educated” men (don’t really like the common use of that word as I’ve found “education” comes in all different forms, not just the kind you get by handing over a bunch of money in exchange for a diploma!) you mentioned in passing in your writings that is firmly in the pit bull’s corner, a stalwart defender of “our” breed, & a passionate member of “The Fancy” even though I (sadly) don’t even own a bulldog.

    I have a hard time expressing just how amazing I think these dogs are, as well as all that you have related about them. Years ago & without knowing it you (through your books) opened up a whole world to me that I never knew about, & the bug bit hard! I correspond with several groups of guys online about bulldogs these days, but…as you know…you need to be cautious thanks to the silly laws regarding these matters & men are sometimes (quite understandably) reluctant to share. In fact…

    After I had subscribed to a nice website about the breed, the very gentleman that created the website, & that was also a fairly famous breeder (out in your neck of the woods, as it happens, though I don’t think he’s there currently), implied after reading some of my very early posts that he thought I might be a cop! His reasoning? Because I could string a few words together! Most dogmen don’t do that too well, I guess, so…to his way of thinking, therefore, I must have been a cop! Really funny thing is in his other life he’s an insurance investigator that has earned a college degree himself…in ethics, no less!

    I thought the whole thing was hilarious, personally, & somehow I managed to convince him he was off-base on that one. I even wound up buying a couple books authored by him that are very good, so…all’s well that ends well, I guess.

    I share this just to show how ridiculous this whole situation is; in my opinion, men shouldn’t be afraid (thanks to ill-considered laws & rabid “humaniac” groups & what might fairly be termed “animal assassins” like HSUS & PETA) to communicate in our allegedly free & open society regarding cutting a couple scrappers loose to do what they’ve been bred to do & thus ardently desire to do anyway. As you might say, they’d rather scrap than eat, so as long as nobody is chewing up the neighbor’s Poodle…where’s the harm?

    I apologize for the length here; I hope you didn’t find it too boring & made it all the way to the end! Many thanks to you, Mr. Stratton: for your service, for your writings, for your courage & gameness in battling the forces of ignorance & intolerance, & for your openness in sharing (at no small amount of personal sacrifice) your experiences with bulldogs aka the Grand Breed, the never-say-die, never give up, never surrender, keeps-on-scratchin, good old American Pit Bull Terrier.

    Yours Most Truly & Sincerely,


    • pwsadmin on November 2, 2020 at 10:13 pm

      Thanks, Chris!

    • pwsadmin on November 2, 2020 at 10:34 pm

      I enjoyed reading what you had to say, Chris. I have ended up in court a lot because I got designated an expert witness. I hope you get to have a game-bred dog some day.

  2. Andy kapusu on November 2, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    Keeping up the legacy is my goal in life . Would love to have original copies of your hand books for educational purposes.

    • pwsadmin on November 2, 2020 at 10:01 pm

      The only way you can get the books now is on line, from either eBay or Amazon. I regret that they tend to be expensive.

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