From a lesser-known dog breed, Dogo Argentino, a business and dog rescue was formed. For Dave and Pamela Fay, it changed their lifestyle in more ways than one. Pamela especially has a unique bond with her Dogos that she has never experienced with other canines.
Dave was an engineer, and his wife, Pamela, a scientist who taught biology at the high school and college levels. Between Dave hunting wild boar with the Dogo Argentino and Pamela’s bout with cancer, they were looking to change career paths. The route took them to find a way to decrease Florida’s wild boar population and, at the same time, do something sustainable and regenerative. These thoughts came about through their Dogo Argentino dogs.
Wild Boars of Florida
One of Florida’s most notorious pests is the wild boar. They get into everything, causing havoc to farmers and others as they scavenge for food. They even endanger wildlife. There are over one million feral pigs and wild boar in Florida.
Hernando Desoto brought the Iberico pig species to the United States from Spain in 1539. These first boars multiplied, became wild and feral, and are the ancestors of Florida’s current wild boar population. They became an invasive species that did not allow native species to thrive.
Dave loves to hunt and trap these wild boar. He was looking for a hunting dog and discovered the Dogo Argentino, a breed bred to hunt these animals. After much research, Pam and Dave obtained their first two Dogo Argentinos. It was love at first sight, and shortly after, they got several more.
In Argentina during the 1920s, Dr. Antonio Nores Martinez wanted to create a breed suitable for hunting big game, a good watchdog, and a family companion. To create this breed, he crossed the extinct now Fighting Dog of Cordoba with the Pointer, Great Dane, Boxer, Bull Dog, Bull Terrier, Irish Wolfhound, Dogue de Bordeaux, Great Pyrenees, and Spanish Mastiff. Each breed of dog gave something inherent to its breed to the cross. It took about 25 years to produce this majestic, powerful breed.
The Dogo Argentino is a pack-hunting dog, bred to pursue big game such as wild boar. The Dogo can navigate diverse terrain. It is a muscular dog that displays strength. Dogos need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. The breed is known for its smooth, white satiny coat.
The white coat is so hunters can see the dog during the hunt. The wide tail curve helps with agility. The long elastic neck folds over the muscles protect their throats—the shape of the mouth, bite, and teeth are square.
One of Dave and Pamela’s Dogo Argentino, Vixen, detected her cancer. With her nose, Vixen started to push on an area around her breast. The dog kept pushing on the spot until Pamela went to feel it herself and discovered the lump. It was as if Vixen could smell the cancer. During the cancer treatment, Vixen would start licking Pamela’s ear as if detecting what was happening. Soon after, Pamela would get a migraine from the chemo. Vixen knew when the migraine was coming. This licking gesture allowed Pamela to take action quickly to avoid the debilitating effects of the migraine. Pamela said that Vixen was her special nurse.
Ironically, Vixen recently crossed the rainbow bridge with her own cancer.
Shogun Farms: From Hunting Wild Boars to Regenerative Agriculture
Today, regenerative and sustainable agriculture is very popular. Recycling and reusing leftover food is the norm, especially in Florida with the permaculture movement. Because Dave and Pam could not eat all the boar they caught, they thought that utilizing a regenerative process to nurture the wild boar in stages, changing their diet into one with high-quality food and nutrients would ultimately produce excellent, first-rate meat for use at fine restaurants and in-home cooking. Creating a clean, healthy food source for consumers inspired the formation of Shogun Farms. At the same time, they wanted to treat the boars with respect, giving them the best life possible.
Consider it a lifecycle from where the dogs participate in something they love, capturing and trapping the wild boar, bringing them to the farm, followed by the various stages of acclimating and taming the boar. They slowly alter the wild boars’ diet, thus changing the quality of meat they produce by feeding the boars recycled food from restaurants and farms and dairy products. The process takes six to nine months.
Shogun Farms Lifecycle
All rehabilitation is done humanely. After the Dogo Argentino catches and holds the wild boar, they are brought to the farm to live in their natural habitat. They are quarantined for 30 days. Typically, at this point, the boars move to the general population because they have calmed down and are more docile. A veterinarian is always on the site to monitor the wild boar.
The boars receive a free-range diet of nuts, grass, and locally grown vegetables. Towards the end of the process, they are fed milk as an additional supplement. The almost-expired milk comes from a local dairy that cannot sell it due to its expiration date. The wild boar also receives acorns that grow on the Fay’s 100-acre property.
The result is a naturally fed, clean, and organic meat that is leaner, darker, and intensely more flavorful than farm-raised boar.
Dogo Argentino Rescue
Throughout Pamela’s cancer treatment and surgeries, she was depressed. She needed to find something that would bring her spirit back. Pamela saw a post about fostering dogs and decided to try it. Fostering made her feel good. Pamela figured she was an excellent candidate to foster the Dogo Argentino, especially since she wanted to give back to the breed that helped diagnose her cancer. Pamela worked with Dogo Argentino Rescue, fostering Dogos. Over time, the person running Dogo Rescue approached Pamela about taking over the rescue, which she did in 2017. Today, they rescue Dogos in the US and Puerto Rico and find forever homes in the US and Canada.
The Dogo Argentino Rescue mission is “to preserve the Dogo Argentino breed by rescuing Dogos in need, rehabilitating them through nutrition, training, and veterinary/behavior, and ultimately placing them in loving adoptive homes.”
For Love of the Dogo Argentino
Dave and Pamela have dedicated their lives to improving the Dogo Argentino, showing and teaching those unfamiliar with the breed while letting these dogs achieve what they were bred to do. At the same time, they have given them a wonderful home, helped other Dogos in need, and helped Florida decrease their wild boar population. The result of their efforts is accomplished by their nationwide rescue and producing a sustainable, organic, and delectable product.