with Marcos Reta
IT ALL STARTS WITH THE LOVE OF THE DOG
Roy and Lily Rojas and their El Mezquital Kennel are accomplished breeders of quality Cane Corsos for both Conformation and Work. Their list of titles in both fields are too long to mention. We asked Roy a few questions :-D
Roy, have you always had dogs ever since you were a kid?
Yes I did, although they were common dogs and without training.
When is it that the Cane Corso appeared on your road and you became interested in training?
When I got to Texas, I had a Chow and I had house broken him, so that was my first experience with training. Well, it turns out that with that same Chow we went camping one day and we returned, found our things had been stolen. I started looking for a protection dog and found a Corso in a magazine. We were lucky, it happened there was a litter in Dallas at that same time. That was the start to everything that has come afterwards!
You got burglarized! Did they also take the Chow?
Right, they took all, except the dog as he had gone camping with us. Hehe.
I think that your dogs stand out not only because of their quality and your labor, but because your dogs work, then go to the conformation ring and win there also. How did that happen?
I was lucky to be sold Scandifio's Tito. With him, I started to do the training for work and going to Conformation Shows at the same time. I started learning a lot with Tito. He was a complete dog. Along with my wife Lily, we started attending some conformation classes and met some working people. We liked the idea that a good dog could be both shown as a beautiful representation of the breed and at the same time work.
I find that ideal, direct from the Standards! How did the idea come about?
Two of my females at 6 months, gave me the idea. It happened that my wife was at the car wash and this guy comes to bother her. The two little pups made him run and run!
What were the names of those heroines at the car wash?
Milagro del Sol, aka Mila and Alexandria. Mila is the mom to my Addie. They were both from Ch Sans Alexandra x Ch Scandifio Armani.
Many people believe that the Standards are only good for making "pretty, phony" Corsos. Dogs, unable to do the traditional work they were created for. Why do you think that is?
I think those people have doubts, unsure they will be able to control a Cane Corso with a really good working temperament.
Have you ever encountered anything in the Standards that would exclude a dog from doing real, hard work?
No. May be that because of the size a Corso, he might not be as fast yet, that does not affect its overall function.
Roy, in your experience. At what point it is that height and weight start being a disadvantage for the working Corso?
Weight and height might affects only Sports, not for Protection work. It's only speed. A problem is that trainers are afraid of them. Their size and fierceness. Many Corsos will not really fit in in sports. I remember I once took Tito and Addie to a Sports Club. Tito was 130 lbs and 27", he was slow on the send. Vulcan is faster with 120lbs. I had Manfredo at 115 lbs and that was a very good weight for sports.
To someone looking from the outside, what would they see as the difference in Sports, between a Corso with a correct temperament and a Malanois or a German Shepherd?
The differences would be the quickness of the German Shepherd, the character of the Corso. The Corso attack is more significant, much more intimidating. The defense of the handler is stronger. So is the bite.
That you have knowledge of, is anyone else doing else doing both serious Work and Conformation?
I believe not, Rivale's blood is being used for the combination with the show dogs of some kennels. But these kennels really don't work, they leave that to trainers such as Carlos.
I disagree, it's essential that even if at a lower level, it should be done by the kennels themselves.
Yes, for good of the breed. How do you evaluate a working prospect puppy?
From the 4th week, I start observing how do they behave in dealing with everyday situations. I focus on the weakest, it's not fair that working kennels just focus on the strongest. Confidence, I look for the confident pup.
Please, explain a little more about your focus on the ones that are not the strongest!
I think a kennel should attempt that all their pups be stable not just the best 2 or 3. The breed needs pet homes to also have stable pups that will become fully grown Corsos. The great majority of pups will go to pet homes, those are important also, not just Show and Working homes.
Roy, I was impressed by something you told me once, that is you would let a young dog bite you at play in order not to inhibit his working bite later on.
Yes, as pups, they should not have negative experiences or a NO. I like to let them be, help them to feel strong. Later on that same pup can be corrected, but not as a pup and with a low temperament.
Roy, who have been the dogs with the best temperament that you have produced?
Vulcan, Carlitos, very stable. For protection, Kit, Gorilita. Beka is very stable, with lots of protective instinct of my property.
How do you see the rivalry between some Corso folks that do Conformation and the ones that do Work?
I think that should not exist, the ones that like to Work should do that, not criticize Show people and vice-verse.
My ideal for a Cane Corso kennel is to do both. To demonstrate that the Corso is a Beautiful Working dog.
When I started working Tito, I got strongly criticized, that it could not be done. Yet I think, those ideas are from the trainers and they are wrong in that.
How do you see the state of the breed today. Differences with Europe?
Well, you know I have not imported in quite a while. right now, I'd prefer to get a dog from the US, rather than Europe. I think the combination of the American Corso and the European or Italian Corso is a good one. The US has the structure and bones. Europe has the head.
And what is your opinion of the general state of the breed today here and in Europe?
I think that there are temperament problems everywhere and that seems to me what is most problematic.The temperament is being taken away from the breed and I'm not talking about "old time temperament" because times change. We are going from the powerful guard dog to the fearful dog that used to be a guard.
How do see the problems brought on by introducing Boxer, Dogue de Bordeaux, Bull mastiff, etc into the breed?
I have always held the founders as responsible for that, also blaming the small breeders and buyers. There always have been fashion seasons, the Boxerato, the Bullcorso yet, there are always those that are breeding correctly.
What is your favorite Corso that you've seen in person?
Machiavelli de Rivale, a complete Corso, a beautiful dog of work. Big and strong, with an excellent working temperament.
You have been in the breed about a dozen years, did you have a mentor(s) or people who helped you out.
Not really, I read and learn from other breeders' rights and wrongs. I like to learn, I'm not closed off, there's always something to learn.
On the working side, my friend helped me train my Tito and with any chance we had, other dogs also. Years later he wanted me to also go into Malanois and German Shepherd's, as he thought I was doing a good job with the Corsos. His name is Kevin Bain. He trains police dogs.
Since we are talking about so many things, my first litter gave me a lot of trouble to sell, people would come to the house to take a look and they would be scared off, you could see in their faces. They would see the whole litter happy, growling at each other, biting the toys and just get spooked!!
Even after my move to Mexico, I still sell the majority of my pups to private homes in the US, they are good family dogs, they take care of their children and homes. I have never thought of changing my way of breeding or of raising the pups. I'm very proud of my dogs being functional.
A year ago, I went to have two of my dogs take a temperament test and I can tell you my male and female were the best of the whole group, which included Boxers, Dobermans, Rotts, etc.
Congratulations Roy, impressive! Is there anything else being left out?
Yes Marc, when are you going to send me Raul. Hahaha.
Roy, you know that is another totally different interview! :-D