When several prospects from Ragtag’s yard did not make the cut and the rest of his dogs were still young, Neil Ragtag went around looking for a match dog since a full year had passed since their last hunt. He was first offered by Jeff Hard Knock his Arce-bred Carver dog called STUD, he hesitated since he did not fit into his breeding program. Jeff then offered him a dog named GWEN; the dam of then Ch. DGK’s PEDI and his own Radical 1XW. The dog was sired by Arce’s Wizard, a direct son of Ratliff’s DAISY MAE and CH. Debow’s PISTOL and was called WIZARD Jr. Neil then asked the opinion of his old mentor YGK and was told that dogs off WIZARD were known to be game.

Neil then travelled to Manila and met with some of his friends from Deep South and together went to Jeff Hard Knock’s yard where WIZARD Jr. was waiting. On the very same day, Neil and the boys from DSK rolled WIZARD Jr. with their MAKO dog (who later became a 1XW) at ANDY’s owner residence (at that time ANDY’s owner was still with DSK). WIZARD Jr. showed game and intensity and Neil was all grins when he went back to Naga City.

Ryan Ragtag was skeptical about WIZARD Jr. and voiced out that their dog off YGK’s JAPJAP 1XW and YGK’s LADY SHINE (the littermate of Ch. YGK’s HAKIM) had a better shot at the next convention. To erase any doubts, they rolled WIZARD Jr. with the heavier, hard-biting dog that none in their yard would scratch back to. WIZARD showed gameness and changed his mind about the black 36 lbs. dog.

Neil opened Wizard Jr. at 36 lbs. and Berdugo Kennels took the challenge with their BRUSKO dog. The initial stages of the keep went well, until tragedy struck when a strong typhoon hit the region and it was impossible to condition a dog because of the floods. Neil was entertaining thoughts of paying the forfeit, but eventually decided to give it a shot and did what he can to whip WIZARD Jr. to shape despite the incessant rains and flooding outside his residence.

When Neil traveled to Manila with WIZARD Jr. and stayed with RONALD JFK. Three days before the match date, his dog was still four pounds higher than the contracted weight. And so come the match day itself, they were still trying to make weight.

WIZARD was not his usual self when released. He lacked the intensity and the ability since he only had barely twenty minutes to rest after hitting the scales at exactly 36 lbs. Still, he glued himself at BRUSKO’s chest while the latter chewed his face to ribbons.

Past the half hour mark, WIZARD Jr. was the down dog and was first to scratch, and without hesitation he crossed the pit and slammed his opponent. The crowd applauded and cheered the black dog for this. When it was BRUSKO’s turn, he just stood on his corner refusing to budge until he heard WIZARD growl on his corner, wanting to be let go.

The match continued for over an hour with the weakened WIZARD Jr. taking much of the punishment. Finally WIZARD Jr. was too weak and tired to cross the pit and beat the count and BRUSKO was hailed a 1XW at 1:10.

There was much post-fight talk on the boards about the said match. To lay speculations to rest, Neil challenged the Berdugo boys for a re-match but they said no. Instead they hooked up with another and Neil again opened WIZARD Jr.’s weight at 36 lbs. This time around J.I. answered with his KATO. J.I wanted a private match with a 55k bet and Neil could only afford half of the said amount. Luckily, his then girlfriend that became a fan of the sport had the money to spare and urged Neil to go on with the fight and finally hush the critics.

WIZARD Jr. this time around was better conditioned and came in with a muscle tone to die for. He couldn’t sit still inside his kennel box and was roaring to go the moment he stepped inside the pit.

KATO tipped the scales at 35.7 and looked every bit of the killing machine they alleged he was. Neil and his four other companions (two of which were females) did not expect the venue to be filled with supporters from the other camp. So when the dogs were released, the crowd was rooting for KATO.

They had every right to believe KATO would be declared the winner that night as KATO proved to be of high ability and a lot of mouth. Barely fifteen minutes into the fight, he broke WIZARD Jr.’s front left end and was doing serious damage with the other while WIZARD Jr. fended off his attacks with either an ear or a muzzle hold. But whenever KATO let up, WIZARD JR. would shoot for his chest then work the way up to the shoulder.

At 0:40, the first out of hold count was completed and WIZARD Jr. could barely stand with his left front leg. But when he was made to scratch, he crossed the carpet without hesitation. By 0:46, it was KATO’s turn to scratch and he hesitated before crossing and slamming WIZARD Jr. in his corner and took the RAGTAG dog by the right front end and shook like never before. WIZARD Jr. returned the favor by burying himself deep in his opponent’s chest then work the way up to the neck.

Twenty minutes past the first hour, it was again WIZARD Jr.’s turn to scratch. KATO’s fans were celebrating when they saw that WIZARD Jr. had great difficulty standing with both his front legs. But when released WIZARD Jr. crossed the box with a stumbling scratch, using his snout as counter balance and completed it before the timer could shout “Ten!”

A quick handle later and KATO refused to even move an inch from his corner, making WIZARD Jr. the winner. To make the deal even sweeter, WIZARD Jr. gave another courtesy scratch and finally silenced the crowd.

You could probably say that the said win went to Neil’s head. So when former allies-now turned rivals from his hometown challenged WIZARD Jr. specifically with their HUGO dog, at 39 lbs. he said yes under the condition that it would be a sanctioned match.

This was the first PDC sanctioned match in the Bicol region with DT himself officiating along with DGK and hence the venue was packed to the rafters with people. WIZARD Jr. was slated to go last that night. Neil and his friends could not keep him still inside his kennel box whenever he heard the commotion at the pit. He was crying like a loon when he was placed inside the box while waiting for the other dog to be washed.

WIZARD Jr. looked fat at 39 while HUGO looked every bit like a match dog after making weight. Upon release it was war as both dogs both took and gave punishment. The crowd went ape whenever the little black dog wormed his way out of a hold from the much lager opponent and go for the neck.

Unfortunately, as the match wore on, the discrepancy in weight took its toll on WIZARD Jr. He might have not hesitated on his first two scratches but he could no longer go toe to toe and HUGO was slowly edging him.

At 1:15, DT called Neil aside and told him only two things can happen: he could continue the fight and win but forfeit his dog’s life in the process or forget the money and pick up his dog to save him. Neil chose the latter and WIZARD Jr. gave another game courtesy scratch which earned him the Gamest In Show Award.

The purpose of this article is not to discredit anybody. Plenty of folks who witnessed the abovementioned events can attest to the truth of the matter. What the author wishes to impart is the importance of matching your dog at the right weight at the right shape. Gameness alone is not enough to bag a win. On some cases it might work, but it can only go so far. No matter how game your dog is, if its not matched at the right shape and at the right weight, all you will be left with is playing the game of eternal what if’s.

“The contents herein are purely fictional and are for entertainment purposes only”