In the heart of Caroline County, Virginia, Tariq Brooks, the proud owner of Drive, Effort, Grit ("DEG") Kennels, is busy tending to his collection of American Pitbull Terriers and XL American Bullies. The operation spans the vibrant tri-state area commonly known as the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia). Tariq isn't just an ordinary dog breeder; he's a man with a mission, a man who carries his grandfather's legacy and love for Pitbulls in his DNA. His fascination with the massive XL American Bullies began when he first laid eyes on GrCh Vybez Kartel. Now, he has taken up the challenge to create structurally sound giants, a breed known for struggling with this trait.
Tariq's dogs are more than just pets; they are part of his family. To ensure their health, he regularly performs genetic health tests to screen for hereditary diseases like hip dysplasia, allergies, and mange. He goes a step further by testing for breed-specific genetic mutations such as congenital heart defects, patellar luxation, and degenerative myelopathy.
The puppies at DEG Kennels are given the royal treatment. From the moment they're born until they're ready for their new homes, they experience an array of stimuli, from different sounds to varying temperatures and textures. This exposure, combined with Tariq's expertise as a professional dog trainer, ensures they grow into balanced, even-tempered dogs, capable of adjusting to their new homes without fear or anxiety.
Tariq doesn't play favorites when it comes to bloodlines, but he admires certain kennels for their representation of the breeds he loves. For Pitbulls, his respect goes to OTR Kennels, ViceGripkennels, GameTimePitbulls, and RBR Kennels. For the Bullies, he admires the work of AllProKennels, RooneyBulls, ToraKennels, PackStrongBullies, and MMBullies.
Tariq is all too aware of the misconceptions surrounding Bully breeds. These stereotypes often paint a picture of aggression and danger, creating fear and misunderstanding. He believes that quality breeding and comprehensive education can counteract these misconceptions. Tariq places heavy emphasis on the structure of the dog over its size, aiming to produce not just large dogs, but structurally sound and high-quality animals.
To Tariq, a responsible dog breeder is not just a caretaker but also an educator, mentor, and advocate. Transparency, ongoing support, breed knowledge, ethical standards, and care for the dogs' health are non-negotiable traits of a good breeder. In his words, "I would rather a family adopt from a shelter than to purchase a puppy/dog from a puppy mill or irresponsible breeder."
The dogs at DEG Kennels enjoy a balanced diet of raw food and high-quality kibble, with Pitbulls getting an 80/20 split and Bullies getting a 60/40 split. He recommends Inushuk, 4Health, and BullyMax as his go-to brands for kibble. To keep his dogs in top shape, he engages them in various physical and mental workouts, from running hills and stairs to boundary setting and self-control exercises.
Purchasing a puppy from DEG Kennels is a straightforward process, but it's not just a transaction. It's a journey that begins with an assessment of the potential buyer's lifestyle and ends with a well-prepared pup ready for its new home, equipped with a DEG Kennels puppy pack. Tariq offers ongoing support for his puppies after they go to their new homes. He also has a "NO RE-SALE" clause in the puppy contract, affirming his commitment to the welfare of his dogs.
Tariq's venture into the dog show ring is just beginning, with his female FK Gamora of DEG Kennels already winning 'Best XL Female' at a fun show sponsored by APA in Rockville, Maryland. He is getting ready to show a few more of his dogs in the ABKC ring.
For those aspiring to join the bully game, Tariq shares a piece of advice: "Be a student first, study your craft, learn the breed you're focusing on first." His most significant obstacle in the bully game is overcoming kennel blindness. He believes in maintaining the breed standards and aligning the kennel with them.
Despite the challenges, Tariq remains hopeful for the future. In ten years, he envisions a more consistent XL bully community with tougher competition. What sets DEG Kennels apart from the competition, according to Tariq, is his trainer's mindset. His puppies come more prepared for life than most, a product of proper care and guidance.
When he's not with his dogs, Tariq enjoys anything with wheels, from cars to ATVs and dirt bikes, satisfying his need for speed. He's a fervent football fan (Go Eagles!), and loves watching movies, a hobby stemming from his childhood talent for memorizing lines and impersonating characters.
Tariq is a man who stands at the intersection of passion and responsibility, continuously working towards his vision for DEG Kennels. In his own words, "Stay tuned with DEGKENNELS we are gonna change the game."