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Sunday, February 06, 2011

A Short Glance at the Modern Bandog History in Greece by Stelios Sdrolias

My quest for the strongest protection dog -regardless of breed - prompted me to meet and test many breeds, both in Greece and abroad. The first to deal with these dogs in Greece was Mr. Panagiotis Tsikouris, owner of Molosser Gate kennels. His first Bandog was imported from Romania on 1993-94 for Mr.Dimitrios Gletzakos (Top applied martial arts instructor and expert in VIP bodyguarding). Due to Mr.Gletzakos relocation, the dog ended up at Molosser Gate kennels. People who saw the dog work said the dog was a mediocre specimen temperament wise. Maybe this what pushed Mr.Tsikouris to create his own line from his existing stock of APBT and Neapolitan Mastiffs. A new line was created,which became very famous all over Greece.The most famous ones were: Hades, Lulu Bell, Boss and Kronos. Offspring from those dogs were used for protection and breeding purposes.

A protection dog trainer from the UK who trained dogs and K9 handlers for security agencies shared his experience on Bandogs in a private circle of people. He had personal experience with these dogs since his partner owned the famous 'Zane'. His views sparked a flame for many who were searching for the ultimate defense dog for Personal Protection and Patrol Work. One of the most notable UK breeders of that era was John Young (J7 Security). His dogs defined the beginning of the re-birth of the Bandogge in the UK.

In 1999 I had the opportunity to discuss more about Bandogs with an American Bandog breeder in California (I was attending a technical seminar in San Diego at the time). I tried to personally meet the most significant breeder of our time, Joseph Lucero III, but it was not feasible at that time. We kept a good contact which proved to be priceless in the future.

In 2000 I contacted Mr.Tsikouris and visited his kennel numerous times. I tested his Bandogs and it was the first live encounter I had with these dogs. The most impressive specimen was -for me - Boss (First generation Bandog). Although I bought my first Bandog named Kalma in 2001 from his kennel, my quest for a more complete Bandog had just begun. This was the time I met Nikos Meligkounakis - a non-commissioned officer of the Greek Air Force and dog trainer- who saw Kalma for the first time in 2002. Thrilled by her temperament, we started exchanging ideas and views about Bandogs and similar breeds. After a while he was converted from a Cane Corso fan to a Bandog one.

My next step was to import straight from Mr. Lucero's kennel (Working Class K9) 2 puppies in 2002. The male pup was named Rony, which Nikos asked me to import as his personal future dog, and a female pup named Mila for my late dear friend Alexandros Antiochos.

In 2003 I was contacted by a Bandog breeder, Mario Governale owner of Thunderdome Kennels NY, who was kind enough to offer me a pup for free after acknowledging my dedication for Bandogs. It was then when Nikos asked me again to import 2 more pups (a male for his brother and a female for him). Due to the excellent relationship I had with Mr.Governale, I managed to import 3 pups from his kennel. Thunderdome's Zara, Lara and Atlas.

This created a core of good Bandogs from selected kennels in Greece.

In 2004 and after extensive training scenarios and tests, it became obvious that Rony was not a dog that I could base´┐Ż a breeding line the way I had imagined it. It was then that I asked for Mr.Lucero's help again. His response was phenomenal. He bought back a dog from his very successful bloodline, a full brother to the famous Lucero's Curly (TV: Fear Factor, Movie: Hulk, Don't mess with the Zohan).

His name was Lucero's Dude and he was owned by the famous dog trainer Mr. Tom Richie. Before the dog was sent to Greece, Mr.Lucero told me to make clear to Nikos that Rony should be -at least- neutered, so he could never be bred. A perfectly sound demand from someone who believes that only the supreme quality specimens should be allowed to be bred.

On July 4th, 2004, Dude arrived in my country. It was the same day that Greece won over CZ Republic in the renowned Euro 2004 Football Championship. A typical Lucero Bandogge in both type and temperament. I changed his name from Dude to Judo.

At that period I could not keep another dog in my house, so Judo was kept under co-ownership terms by Nikos in his house.

Unfortunately my collaboration with Nikos (Bandog Farm) was terminated in August 2008. The main reasons that led me to end our partnership was that he was breeding for financial purposes, but mainly because he lied to me repeatedly, violating our agreement on the number and frequency of breeding of the dogs. A prime example of that is Thunderdome's Lara who was bred at least 6 times by the time she was 7 years old and sometimes without resting between litters. He also violated the agreement on Rony's non-breeding status, who he bred for financial gain, putting my relationship with Mr.Lucero on the line. Needless to say that Mr.Lucero was extremely disappointed by Nikos's ethics and asked that Nikos Meligkounakis (BandogFarm) should not use his name in his advertisements of his so-called kennel. Again, with the utmost disrespect, Nikos still heavily uses Lucero's name to sell puppies to unqualified owners.

Some might consider this testimony as a personal attack against Nikos. I can assure you that this is not the case. I gave far too many chances to him to step back on the right track, but he chose to become a puppy producing farm. It is obvious that education and moral values are the driving forces of our actions. It is those actions that will ultimately provide a judgment against the passing of time. I cannot ethically afford to associate my name with the mass producing of Bandogs. I feel committed to myself and to the people that supported me in raising, training and breeding these dogs.

On/Off Bandogs Greece remains true to the policy 'few selected breedings for few selected owners'. My love for these dogs and my mission to perfect them has no room for financially driven mass production of dogs for the general public. Dogs from my breeding's have found their way to the USA, Italy,Denmark, Holland, Norway, Finland, Slovakia even Madagascar, gaining excellent testimonials even from other Bandog breeders. This is my payback for the the effort I place upon these dogs.

We are the only kennel in Greece (and quite possibly the world) that has access to dogs from the Lucero bloodline for breeding purposes with values and guidelines. Mr.Lucero's friendship, guidance and of course his dogs will continue to be a huge part of our program.

Stelios Sdrolias
On/Off Bandogs Greece

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