Buck and Booty by Tom Word

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Buck was handling and Booty scouting for Bootjack in the opening prairie championship of the season. The dog’s owner Fred Gray was riding in the gallery
for his first prairie trial. He had bought Bootjack as his first trial dog in April and put him with Buck on recommendation from a friend.

The grounds were new to all. Buck and Booty had studied them on Google Earth on Buck’s I-Pad, a recent gift from his son.

Bootjack has drawn to go in the first brace with Freemason, last years Purina Dog of the Year. They were released at 7 AM. Both drove hard to the front and Buck and Booty feared a foot race, but from a rise to the left Booty saw them cross after coming out of a depression where they were unseen. Bootjack veered left. Booty signaled to Buck then drifted left.

For ten minutes the handlers rode the course, singing to the dogs then pleading. No dog showed. Then ten minutes more. The judges looked at their stopwatches, then conferred and agreed that in three more minutes they would declare both out of judgment. With a minute left in the grace time Freemason came in from left
front and Booty reappeared from left rear. Bootjack was declared out of judgment.

Buck dropped back into the gallery, and Fred Gray followed him. “What happened,” Buck asked Booty, with Fred close behind listening.

“ It was Freemason crossed going left, I thought it was Bootjack. But when I realized that, Freemason was headed straight for the highway. So I kept after him to get him turned. Finally did, and he headed for the front.” No more was said between handler and scout.

Freemason hunted the front the rest of his hour, scored two good finds on sharp tails, finished strongly. All knew the rest were seeking Runner-Up. Bootjack was found on point during the second brace, dead at the front.

When the running finished three days later Freemason was named Champion and Fred Gray prepared to leave in his rented car for the airport at Bismarck, he took Buck aside and said,

“ I want you to get rid of Booty. He sabotaged Bootjack, should have looked for him soon as he realized he was chasing Freemason.”

Without hesitation Buck said, “Mr. Gray you can fly Bootjack home with you in your Lear Jet. Booty did just what he was supposed to do. He and I had identified that highway as the only safety hazard on the course from the I-Pad my son give me.”

About the Author

Tom Word
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Tom Word is a lawyer who represents individuals about managing their assets and for amusement writes fiction and non-fiction about bird dogs and humans obsessed with them.


About the Artist

Leah Brigham
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After graduating from Millersville University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s of Science in Art Education, Leah began teaching Art to inner city Middle School students in Houston and later Dallas, TX. Leah has shared with her students her passion for art and nature. This passion has sustained her and continued throughout her life in the form of painting and drawing.

Leah was introduced to American Field Horseback Field Trails and has been able to experience the excitement of seeing her own dog, competing for the National Championship at Ames Plantation in Grand Junction, TN ...standing on point, head and tail held high. This has inspired her to create works of art depicting dogs and the wildlife associated with the sport and hunting.

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