**Tough Dogs **
Over steaks, double margaritas, and lots of Tylenol back at the trailer that serves as camp, I ask Kibler about which breeds work best on lions. "Now you're opening a Pandora's box," he says. "See, I'm not stuck on breeds. I'm stuck on something else entirely: ability." He explains that for a lion dog in the Southwest, it starts with good feet. It takes three to four years to get a dog up to snuff, and in the country he hunts, a dog will be lame by then unless it has tough feet. That the dog needs a good cold nose goes without saying. Beyond that it has to have the determination to stay on a scent trail for eight or 10 hours without flagging. This is known as the ability to "pound" or "hammer" the track. But a dog also must be able to run the lion fast enough to force it into a bluff or up a tree-to "drive" or "push" the track. Bitter experience has taught him that registered hounds rarely fit the bill. Walkers, for instance, don't have the foot toughness or the desire to keep pounding, although they are fast on a jump race after the lion has been sighted. Plotts don't have enough nose, and the 30 or so Kibler has owned over the years were weak in homing instinct. A dog that can't find its way back to the truck won't make it in this country. Blueticks, though blessed with good cold noses and toughness, are hardheaded and won't push as hard as required.