Buck Smith’s Option
By Tom Word
Kyle did not sleep the night after the theft. At dawn he and Buck
drove to trial headquarters to check on their dogs and stock. The
second set of stakes would soon begin, but they had no entries to run
today. Kyle was beside himself with worry. Buck figured
they would likely get a call today or tomorrow from someone who had
Headstrong—he guessed the thieves likely intended to hunt the day and
would loose him, or that the call would be for ransom. Kyle’s
cell phone umber was on Headstrong’s collar.
Meanwhile, Headstrong was touring the part of Montana known as the Bad
Lands. It was too dry for farming, but the railroad had
encouraged its Homesteading. The homesteaders had long since
abandoned the land, which now belonged to ranchers. Fortunately,
there were a few potholes so Headstrong could get a drink when needed
and avoid overheating. Rattlers were his biggest hazard, but Kyle
had snakeproofed him with the electric collar. Still, there was
the chance he’d run across a sleeping downwind snake, startle it, and
Kyle made a confession to Buck.
“I’ve got to tell you something I’m not proud of,” the younger handler
said to his partner.
“When Headstrong was a derby, we had a chip implanted under his
skin. It was a GPS tracking device his owner got from a friend
who supplied the CIA—with another device you could tell where the dog
was within a hundred yards. We tried to use it in trials, but it
was not that effective, and I got scared we’d get caught. I don’t
know if the chip still sends a signal, but we will find out
today.” Kyle got the receiver device out of its hiding place in
the trailer’s tackroom. Its batteries wee dead, but they replaced
them at the gas station in town.
“How close have you got to be to get a signal?” Buck asked.
“I don’t know,” Kyle said.
With the fresh AA batteries in place, Kyle turned on the device.
In seconds its face showed a dot on a map a hundred miles due west of
“By golly it still works!” Kyle shouted. Buck looked at the
strange device, four-inches square. Sure enough, the digital dot
showed the chip’s location. At the hundred-mile distance, they
could not tell if the chip was in motion, indicating Headstrong was
still alive. They jumped in the truck and, Buck driving, struck
out west toward Montana. Kyle’s eyes were glued on the device.
be continued in Part Nine.