THE YEAR WAS 1951…

The ad about a bulldog was irresistible and Ernie's career in bulldogs began. Pedigrees from across the country were studied and many of the fine specimens were owned or bred by C. D. and Fran Richardson from Missouri.

Ernie, a newcomer, asked Fran if she would like to swap puppies at one of the shows. Frannie, just a tiny little lady, looked up at Ernie and replied, "Who are you and what bloodlines do you have?" The response was Ballandine Kennels. Now Fran showed an interest in this bold upstart. This was the start of a beautiful friendship Over the years the Hubbards and Richardsons exchanged many pups.

In the course of this friendship, Ernie received a letter in the mail from Frannie offering him a male that she thought could help the Brookhollow breeding program. In the same mail arrived a letter from C.D. telling Ernie that Fran was going to offer him a dog but he didn't think that he should accept. Ernie, the procrastinator that he was, just let both letters remain unanswered.

Finally, Fran called to ask his decision and Ernie declined the offer. Months went by and Ernie saw numerous pups sired by the dog after Fran sent him to Texas, but Ernie had missed his chance.

Time went by and Ernie visited the Richardsons at home. He knew that he could have anything that they had in their kennel. One side of the kennel were Fran's dogs; the other side C.D.'s dogs. During the visit, Ernie spied a dog in a pen behind the house and asked Fran about him. "Oh, he's just some old dog, you don't want to know anything about him." After looking at all the kennel dogs Ernie again inquired about that old dog by the house. Fran again told him that it was some no-account dog. With the tenacity of the bulldog, Ernie persisted and FINALLY Fran said, "Ernie Hubbard, I offered that dog to you and you turned him down."

"Well, I'd like to have him, " Ernie said. "Well," said Fran, "I've lost some of my looks and some of my youth but there's one thing I haven't lost and that's my pride. And you aint never gonna own that dog!"

Ernie went home but he couldn't get that dog out of his mind. The next bitch that came in season was sent out to be bred to the old dog. When the pups were old enough Ernie chose the best male pup and called Fran to go to the airport and pick him up. That pup grew up to be Champion Fran's Showstopper. Later, Fran asked Ernie when he would be in the area again as she would allow him to take GUESS WHO home: Dreadnought Journeyman. True to her word Dreadnought Journeyman lived and died with Ernie but he never owned him.

Fran signed all of the litter registrations. According to Ernie, when he put Dreadnought Journeyman into his breeding program, it totally changed his dogs to balanced cobby bullies. Anytime Ernie told the story he gave credit to Fran and Dreadnought Journeyman for the beginning of his success. Fran, on the other hand, changed her kennel name to Showstopper after she received the pup from Ernie.

Years later, I sat and talked with Fran at a show in St. Louis. I recounted to her how Ernie was so grateful to her for changing his whole breeding program around with the addition of Dreadnought Journeyman. "Oh, no!" said Fran, "Ernie turned my whole program around when he gave me Showstopper."

I will always cherish the memory of two humble people each blaming the other for their incredible success.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

We have traded pups and studs with numerous bulldoggers around the country. So it wasn't unusual for Ernie to go to West Virginia to pick up some pups from such an arrangement. He called home about 6:30 p.m. to be picked up as his car needed extensive repairs. I decided to leave immediately instead of waiting till the morning. I left home without changing clothes as I would be in disarray after the overnight drive anyway.

At about 7 a.m. I picked Ernie up and offered to drive to the truck stop in Pennsylvania as the adrenaline was still flowing from the tailwind trip down to West Virginia. At the truck stop Ernie pumped the gas and I went in to pay with brief stop in the ladies' room. Imagine my surprise as I approached the exit door to see Ernie pulling away from the gas pump. My first reaction was: "How thoughtful of him to pull up so that the next customer could start pumping gas." Well that pleasant thought was short-lived as he pulled out into the traffic. His hearing being so poor, I knew better than to shout after him. So I began to wave my arm wildly to attract his attention. He continued and headed for the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I told the other customer at the pump that my husband had just driven off without me, assuming he knew it was a mistake. He looked me up and down in my rumpled clothes and shrugged his shoulders.

I asked the clerk behind the counter to please notify the Turnpike Police so they could stop Ernie. They said they would. Anger filled every fiber of my body. After about a half an hour I called my daughter in New Jersey. Panic was now replacing the anger. I convinced her not to drive out for me; I was certain Ernie would return for me momentarily. I finally called the Pennsylvania Turnpike Police myself to discover that they had never received the message from the counter clerk.

Wandering around the truck stop with nowhere to sit I was on the brink of tears. Two men were walking behind me, looking at my jacket with bold print: BROOKHOLLOW LONDONDERRY BULLDOGS. They said in a mocking tone, "She must be a cheerleader, Yeah, Brookhollow! Yeah, Londonderry!" Embarrassed, I tried to explain. Right, a real believable story! Next, the counter clerk came up to me and inquired, "Was that really your husband or just a friend?" I was totally mortified. A friend sent a friend of her's to pick me up and take me to her house until we could track Ernie down. I left the truck stop but not before I left the phone number of where I was going with the clerk. And again reassured her that MY HUSBAND would return for me.

About 45 minutes after I arrived at my friend's home, Ernie called me from the truck stop. I didn't want my friend to have to drive me back to the truck stop, so I told Ernie I would meet him on the Pennsylvania Pike. I arrived at the office for the Pennsylvania Turnpike and asked where I should stand to be seen by someone coming from New Jersey. The reply was, "We don't allow hitchhikers." I tried with great indignation to tell them that I was not a hitchhiker, I was just left at a truck stop by my husband who was coming to get me. It didn't matter; I was considered a hitchhiker. Well, I slithered out of the office and made my way to the embankment where I was sure that Ernie would pass. The time seemed endless and panic was beginning to overcome me when in the distance appeared the van. I slid down and finally got in the van. Now the whole thing seemed funny as I was safe in the van. "Whatever possessed you to drive off and leave me at the truck stop?" I asked.

"Well, I knew how tired you were, so when I looked in the back and saw a lump on the seat I thought it was you. I should have known you weren't back there because when a horn would blow at me you didn't have a comment."

The story was told to a good friend who suggested we call a bully Truck Stop Annie. We did and Champion Londonderry Truck Stop Annie was awarded a Certificate of Merit by Dr. Saul Schor at the Bulldog Club of America, with her breeder-owner Ernie Hubbard at the end of the lead.