Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tumble Bug, Handsome and Fast

This article first appeared in the Winter 2003 issue of Celebrating Greyhounds (CG) Magazine as part of the Hall of Fame series.  Celebrating Greyhounds is printed by The Greyhound Project, Inc. and takes no stance, pro or con, on greyhound racing. It is a magazine for greyhound adopters.

Laurel Drew is a regular contributor to CG Magazine. It is reprinted here courtesy of the author, Laurel E. Drew.

By Laurel E. Drew

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Tumble Bug*, sire of Rocket Jet and grandsire of Tell You Why*, is indelibly inked onto pedigrees in both the United States and Australia, where he was born in 1945.  As a pup, he was a devil. At 3 months of age, he was given to a neighbor because of the havoc he was creating in the dog yard. Because of the pup's wild attitude, after several weeks, the neighbor gave him back.

After training and a lot of work, Tumble Bug went to the track, one of the fastest dogs that Cliff Abraham had ever raised. He finished one race with a 15-length lead, and another by an estimated 50 yards.  In fact, the dog was so fast that he injured himself, which eventually led to his retirement. Shortly before his retirement, there was much talk of a match race with the great Chief Havoc (also in the Hall of Fame); however, Tumble Bug ruptured a muscle in a hind leg and was retired before the race occurred. Chief Havoc and Tumble Bug were to match up on a number of pedigrees, however, as their offspring produced top-quality runners.

Tumble Bug won the Easter Cup, the Melbourne Cup, the H.G.R.C. Stake, and many others. In fact, TB was often handicapped by being placed in a starting box several yards behind the other dogs.

When first retired to stud, TB did not attract the high quality bitches that Abraham had hoped for, but when his offspring began to make their mark on the track, that changed.  His stud fee went from 10 to 12 guineas in a hurry.

About that time, H. W. Shugart, a former traveling salesman from Iowa turned boxer, visited Australia and was smitten with Tumble Bug. Shugart bought the Greyhound because, after studying the records, he concluded that Tumble Bug was producing dogs as good as or better than those produced by Chief Havoc, who was being bred to superior bitches.

When Shugart purchased TB, he received a lengthy letter from Abraham detailing Tumble Bugs faults and foibles, along with explicit directions as to how he was to be used at stud.  Included were such details as: "Always have his collar up fairly tight when out exercising or he will slip it otherwise and always lead him on the right hand side."  Another observation: "He is not a very good car traveler and therefore never feed him less than 6 or 8 hours before a long car journey."  The instructions went on for 21 pages. They are printed in Gary Guccione's Great Names in Greyhound Pedigrees, vol. 1 and are fascinating reading.

Tumble Bug produced some excellent dogs. Saddler was one.  Saddler went on to produce Westy Kinto, Miss Whirl, and Kithed, all top producing bitches.  Another of Tumble Bug's well-known sons was All Man.  Tumble Bug's daughters carried his name to high ranks. They included Tiny Bug, Tumble Through, Flash Bug, Velvet Ribbon, Star Billing, and Rain Step.

In Australia, he had produced the great Rocket Jet, also a solid black dog, who was to sire several outstanding dogs who later were exported to the United States.  Many of Tumble Bug's descendants were crossed back into the TB line through offspring of Rocket Jet.

In the twilight of his breeding career, Tumble Bug sired Mac's Lamb, who produced Mac's Diane, dam of Tuf Miler and other greats. Shortly after this, Tumble Bug developed a heart condition. He died of a heart problem in 1956 at age 11.  The bloodline developed from Tumble Bug proved to be Australia's answer to the Irish-born Hi There and America's Mixed Harmony. He was a dog who was both handsome and fast.

(Note: the asterisk after the name of the dog indicates that he was imported to the United States.)