Joey Brown turned to glance at the pooch lying on his favorite blanket in the back seat of his pickup. "My deal is if I can throw a nice enough show, I can have the general public see how these dogs are,” he said of the panting blue-and-white "bully,” touted as a pit bull terrier with a quiet manner. "People will say, ‘Wait a minute, all these dogs ain’t bad.’”
Two-hundred miles to the north, Stephen Eberle pulled up in his driveway in Tulsa as LaBelle, his former street dog with separation anxiety, looked out the window. "I wouldn’t say I’ve given up,” Eberle said as he watched the black mixed-breed dog. "I’ve taken a new stance, based on feedback of our e-mail list, of basically 1,000.” For weeks, the two had squared off over Brown’s plans to hold a bully show expected to draw 500 people Saturday at the Ardmore Convention Center. Another promoter, Yolanda Alexander, plans another bully show May 16 at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Conference Center in Shawnee. Proponents say the shows simply offer owners the opportunity to brag. Last year, owners set up the American Bully Kennel Club registry for "bully” pit bull terriers — selectively bred for a more muscular, shorter, mellower dog than the typical pit bulls, Alexander said. Shawnee held the state’s first bully show last year. Eberle said he initially felt promoters tried to sneak in bully shows trying to drum up interest in illegal dog fighting.