The surgeon stepped back from the operating
table, removed the binocular loupe from his forehead and smiled.
His four assisting colleagues smiled back. Only the wrinkles at
the corners of the eyes above the surgical masks revealed the smiles,
but they were unmistakable. Seven hours of desperate, delicate
work had ended: the vision of the eight-year-old boy on the table,
victim of a head-on auto collision, had been saved.
The surgeon stripped off his gloves and dictated his report into the
wall phone, ending with a guarded but optimistic prognosis.
Somewhere in the vast teaching hospital his words were recorded on
whirling tape, to be transcribed by a night-shift stenographer.
In the waiting room, the child's mother received from him the same
report, this time free of medical jargon. She showered him with
tears of thanks. He hugged her, a gesture so much a part of his
nature he was unaware of it.
In the scrub room he shed his sweat-drenched
surgical greens and let the steaming water pour over his athletic
six-foot frame for twenty minutes. He daydreamed, felt the gentle
rhythm of a walking horse beneath him, smelled the soft winter air of
Georgia pinewoods, heard the chant of the dog handler: Wooo . .
. Wooo . . . Wooo . . . Heah Nick . . . Heah .
. . .
He dressed and hurried through the busy corridors. Below the
enclosed pedestrian bridge linking the hospital and his office
building, throngs of Christmas shoppers in heavy coats braved the winds
off Lake Michigan.
His receptionist looked up inquiringly, and he gave her thumbs
up. Stacked files a foot thick covered his desk; his heart sank
at the sight of them. On top lay the day's incoming mail, opened
and date stamped. A letterhead caught his eye:
Lawyers for the Injured
Notice of a malpractice claim. He remembered
the patient--a skid-row bum with advanced glaucoma. An
experimental procedure had saved the man's sight for a few years.
When blindness inevitably came, the poor devil succumbed to the ads of
the ambulance chasers. All in a day's work. Modern
medicine. Modern justice. Modern mess.
He scratched a note on the letter, directing copies to his insurer and
his personal lawyer and flipped it into the outbox. His father
would have been devastated by a patient claim. For him, just a
part of the job. Still, unnerving. He returned phone calls--to an
officious insurance clerk questioning a proposed procedure, to other
physicians seeking advice, to convalescing patients, to the dean of the
medical school seeking support on a point of faculty politics. He
turned to the patient files and dictated for forty minutes. Now
time for rounds. With luck he could leave for home before
seven. He phoned his wife and left a message on the answering
machine. Recorded voice messages had become his link to
colleagues, friends, even family. He recalled Huxley's Brave New
World and felt a twinge of depression.
He traded his tweed jacket for a starched white-cotton one with his
name embroidered above the breast pocket, picked up the worn black
leather bag his father had given him on graduation from medical school,
reached for the doorknob. Suddenly weariness overcame him.
He sat down, pulled open a desk drawer and removed a short document.
"I leave the rest of my estate to my son James D. Bates, Jr.,
M.D. With the security it will provide, I insist he take a
sabbatical, and enjoy for a year or two the things in life besides
medicine that have meant much to him and me. I believe it will
make him a better man, and a better surgeon, and that he owes it to
himself and his family. If he does not take this advice, I will
haunt him (if possible)."
He smiled at the final reminder of his father's
sense of humor; his father had been dead three years now.
Returning the will to the file, he recrossed the pedestrian
bridge. On the sidewalk below, the bundled shoppers bent against
the icy wind, engulfed by the driven snow.
He read charts, talked to nurses, examined patients. To each he
gave reassurance and a gentle tease, an unconscious part of his
therapy. On the train ride to Winnetka weariness came over him
At the station, his wife waited inside the car; sensing his fatigue,
she waved him to the passenger side. She drove skillfully through
the dense traffic around the shopping malls. Soon they were on a
quiet residential street, electric candles in windows, spotlights
focused on decorated front doors. She talked of their Christmas
plans, parties in the homes of neighbors, a dinner she would host for
his office staff. He realized he had done no shopping.
He entered his back door at eight, fourteen hours
after leaving for work. Scents of Christmas pine and baking
lifted his spirits. Simultaneous calls of "Hi, Dad," from his
teenage sons lifted them further. A deep feeling of pleasure
passed through him . . . and then the weariness again. He took two
beers from the refrigerator, twisted off the tops and handed one to
her. They clinked the bottles and winked, a gesture of long
habit. They joined the boys watching Jeopardy. In a few
minutes, she went to the kitchen to put on supper, and he went upstairs
to change to a cotton sweater and khakis. The boys yelled out the
final Jeopardy question and cheered. Over spaghetti they talked of the
day's events: the boys' volunteer work at the Boys' Club gym, her
shopping. He casually mentioned the surgical procedure that had
absorbed seven hours of his day. They applauded. He nodded
They carried their plates to the sink, rinsed, put
them in the dishwasher. After good- night hugs, he headed for the
stairs. In minutes he was asleep. At two in the morning, he
awoke. Her reading lamp was on, she stared at him. "What's
up?" he asked. "Jim, you need a rest--a long break. Can't you
take off a few weeks--go see Homer in Texas? If you won't think
of yourself, you can at least think of the boys and me. We want
you around awhile longer, you know." She was serious, worried, and he
knew not to make light of her. He patted her arm and murmured,
"I'll think about it." In another minute he was again deep in
sleep. He dreamed of his boyhood in South Georgia.
The alarm sounded at five; he awoke still weary,
rolled from under the covers and stumbled into the shower. His
mind wandered, then he remembered the night's dream, and he smiled.
On the train, he made up his mind. Yes, he could afford a
sabbatical. He had his pension savings and his father's estate,
not a large inheritance, but not a shabby one either--the old boy had
been a careful investor as well as a shrewd physician. Later he
might set up a practice somewhere away from the incessant pressures of
teaching-hospital medicine. His partners would think he was
crazy, but secretly they would love it--he could see them licking their
chops over his share of the practice. They'd mostly been good
partners, hard working, dedicated to good medicine. Let them have
On New Year's eve, James D. Bates, Jr., M.D., handed over his practice
to his partners, packed his Suburban and headed with his wife Sally for
Chamberlain, South Dakota. He negotiated summer dog-training
rights on twenty thousand adjoining acres from ranchers he had known
since boyhood, and bought a small ranch with a house overlooking the
In one phone call, Doc negotiated a deal with his best friend since
boyhood, Homer Ferguson, now an independent oilman based in
Houston. Homer would visit Doc's South Dakota place as long and
often as he could manage in summer. They would train young bird
dogs there on sharptail grouse, Hungarian partridge and pheasant.
They would enter a few prairie trials. Then, as fall progressed,
Doc would bring both men's amateur trial strings south on the circuit;
Homer would fly in for the trials when he could. Doc would handle
Homer's dogs in the trials Homer couldn't make. Then from
Christmas until spring, Doc would headquarter at Homer's ranch in South
Through his years of medical training and practice,
Doc had handled his father's dogs occasionally in amateur
competition. Doc Sr.’s kennel stock had gone on his disability to
friends on neighboring South Georgia plantations, so the younger Doc's
first task on sabbatical was to put together a string of trial dogs.
"Better this for your midlife crisis than taking up with a pretty young
nurse," Sally said. Doc thought she was teasing, but she was
Soon after word of his sabbatical appeared in the
American Field, Doc was invited to judge the Eastern Open Shooting Dog
Championship in Virginia in early March. He jumped at the
chance. He'd renew acquaintances in the field-trial fraternity,
look for promising young dogs for his string. March came quickly, and
Doc found himself astride a nervous horse awaiting the first
breakaway. At the sound of a familiar gruff voice, he turned in
the saddle . .
Jack Slone wore canvas chaps over faded jeans, a denim coat and Russell
boots--boots given him years before by Doc's father. His piercing
blue eyes looked out under bushy white eyebrows, over a slightly
hawkish nose, a firm mouth and a square jaw. The knuckles of his
weathered hands were slightly enlarged with arthritis. Sweat
stained his gray-felt snap brim. How many times, Doc wondered,
had that old hat been lifted to signal a point? Jack's saddle--a
McClellan--had served his great-grandfather when he rode with
Confederate cavalry. Served Jack's grandfather, too, driving
cattle and sheep overland to market out of the Appalachians. How
many times, Doc wondered, had that old saddle been releathered and
reframed through four generations of Slones, how many miles had it been
ridden? Over four decades, Jack himself had ridden it in twenty
states and three Canadian provinces, training and handling bird
dogs. Check cords, plastic water bottles, roading harness, bits
of chain, shotgun scabbard--all the implements of the dog-handler
craft--hung from the saddle's many rings.
From a farm boyhood in West Virginia, Jack Slone had
gone to Korea as a Marine, returning a Master Sergeant. An escape
from a prisoner-of-war camp gave him brief local fame.
Soon after his return from Korea, a friend had taken Jack to a grouse
dog trial in Pennsylvania. Always good with animals, the sport
fascinated him. It became an absorbing hobby, and he developed
several grouse dog champions for himself. Then others asked him
to train their dogs, and before he realized it, he was a
professional. He moved to horseback trials, then to the major
circuit. Now in the twilight of his career, he campaigned a small
string on the eastern shooting-dog circuit. Still a fierce
competitor, the younger pros regarded him warily, a curmudgeon never to
be taken lightly.
The Greenbrier County farm where he was born had always been Jack's
home base. In his major circuit days he traveled in July to the
Canadian prairies for summer training. Then he followed the
circuit through the Midwest, down to rented midwinter training grounds
in South Georgia. In the spring, he won money on the golf courses
of The Greenbrier and The Homestead and fished for native trout in the
Alleghenies. He also won at gin rummy and poker. In the
sixties, Greenbrier County had been a hotbed of high-tone gambling
joints; Jack had moonlighted as a dealer. He could break
ninety-eight of a hundred at will on The Greenbrier's skeet
field. He shot or played cards or golf only with money at stake.
Born with a musical ear, Jack learned as a boy at
his grandfather's knee to play the harmonica, the guitar, then the
fiddle. From the same grandfather, he learned the folk songs of
For many years, Jack had handled Doc's father's dogs in field
trials. As a teenager, young Doc had gone to Canada for the
summer as Jack’s helper.
Before he'd left home that summer, Doc had asked his father, "Is Jack
Slone honest?" Doc Sr.'s reply: "Yes, but not to a
fault. He can do more with a dog than any man I've ever known,
and he will not take unfair advantage of another handler in a
trial. He'll call point for the other man's dog--even if he knows
it will cost him a championship. But like all pros, he's not
above tricks when handling. He's not a saint, but he's got
values. You'll see."
"Hello, Jack. What's the story on that derby?"
"Hey, Doc!" Jack broke into a grin at the sight of
his old pupil. "Good to see you. That's Hi IQ. He's a
grandson of your daddy's ol' Cromwell. I got him as a pup from
your buddy Homer Ferguson. He's out of Homer's gyp Shonuff.
She died right after the litter was weaned."
Jack handed the pointer's lead to a fellow professional who would be
his scout, then lifted foot to stirrup and swung gracefully up on his
tall nearly white horse.
Doc looked to his fellow judge and the other handler to confirm they
were ready, then punched his stopwatch and said,
"All right, Gentlemen, let 'em go."
Jack blew a sharp note on his whistle. The white pointer departed
as if shot from a gun, and Jack's horse moved off to follow in a smooth
easy walk. Jack and the horse were one. Doc thought, Jack
may be long in the tooth, but as always he has a good horse under him.
Hi IQ sailed along the river-bottom edges. From the dog's first
long cast, Doc knew it didn't belong in the stake--too big a runner for
the shooting-dog category. He found birds twice, however, and
handled them with good style and perfect manners. Jack was
furious when the dog was not placed.
"You know, Jack," Doc said calmly, "that derby ran too much for this
stake. I see you listed him in the entry with no owner
named--that mean he's yours and for sale?"
"Well, yes--if the price is right," Jack replied, his anger subsiding.
"What are you asking? "
"Five thousand." The price was outrageous, but Jack didn't bat an
"Got any holes in him?" Doc asked.
"Now, Doc, didn't I teach you there's not a dog alive without some
holes? He's broke on liberated birds--you saw that--and he
handles as good as any derby I've seen in many a year. He's got a
natural front-runnin' pattern like his grandsire to boot--and you're
right, he's all-age to the bone. He's got a world of your Daddy's
bloodline in him." (Jack had emphasized qualities he knew Doc
admired and appealed to Doc's home-kennel prejudice in hopes of
discouraging him from asking further questions.)
"If he's healthy, I'll take him--at your price," Doc said, knowing the
price was too high, but remembering his dad had stiffed Jack for some
fees at the stormy end of their long relationship. Jack was
shocked to get his price, but more shocked that Doc had not probed
about the dog's shortcomings. He hid both shocks behind a poker
Jack had almost passed up the Eastern Open.
With three hundred thousand miles on his truck, she was blowing blue
smoke like a diesel. She'd burned a half case of motor oil on the
two-hundred-mile trip, and she had started to miss. She wouldn't
make it home pulling the trailer with two horses, Jack was sure of
that. So with Doc's check for Hi IQ's purchase in his pocket,
Jack headed for South Hill, a tobacco-market town ten miles east of the
trial grounds, bent on trading trucks. He spotted his target on a
used-car lot--a dually Ford 350, three years old, blue (his lucky
color), just seventy-five thousand miles, according to the odometer,
which Jack knew might be rigged. Luckily, the salesman turned out
to be a bird hunter. With a pup for the salesman thrown in, he
got the truck for ten thousand dollars--Doc's check and the other half
on monthly payments. The thought of still more debt depressed
him, but he had to have a better truck.
That night Doc couldn't sleep. He kept going
over the details of his dog purchase. As morning approached, he
grew more and more uneasy.
At daybreak, Jack sat alone in the motel restaurant reading the morning
paper. Doc joined him and they ordered.
"How's your new dog this morning, Doc?"
"You tell me. There's something you didn't tell me, isn't
there? Some question I should have asked but didn't. Might
as well tell me now--I'll figure it out soon enough."
Jack shifted uneasily.
"Don't worry. Unless he's a fighter or sick I won't cancel the
deal--just tell me how you hooked me so I can accept my fate. I
know that dog's got a problem--I can feel it in my bones."
Jack gazed out the window at his new truck. Doc had noticed the
West Virginia plates and knew where his five thousand dollars had gone.
"Well, I'm sure it's a problem you can cure with a little time and
effort. I told you he was dead broke on liberated birds.
His problem is, he won't point wild ones."
"What? You sold me a blinker--for five thousand dollars!
You old buzzard! I thought we were friends."
"Now, Doc, keep your shirt on. He's not a blinker on liberated
birds, and all the trials from here to New England are run on liberated
birds--you can make a champion out of that dog!"
"You know I hate to run in liberated-bird trials. How did you
make a blinker out of him?"
"Not sure. I think a boy that was helpin' me last spring got on
him a little too strong when he busted a covey of wild birds--probably
the first covey he'd smelled--and he took it for a lesson he wasn't
supposed to point the wild ones. He's a damn smart dog.
Doc, you didn't ask, and I told you there's no such thing as a dog
without a hole in him."
After a long silence, Doc spoke again.
"Okay, Jack, I'm not going to ask for my money back or--more important
for what's left of your reputation, I'm not going to tell anybody what
you did to me--but on one condition."
Jack held his breath.
"You've got to come up to my place in South Dakota this summer and help
me work dogs. Bring as big a string to train for yourself as you
can round up. My boys will be there, and they need a hard
summer's work. We've got plenty of room in the house--won't cost
you anything but your gas and dog food. Plan to be there the
first of July."
"I don't know, Doc. I haven't been on the prairies in ten years .
. . not since Ann's fall."
"You commit now or I'm telling everybody at this trial what you did to
"We'll see. Let's get out to the grounds. Ride with me in
our new truck." Jack grinned the way he had that long-ago summer
when he and Doc had trained dogs together on the prairies.
Two weeks later an ad appeared in the American Field.
Returning to the Prairies
After ten years of summer training in the cool Alleghenies of West
Virginia, I will again train on the prairies on the bird-laden lands of
Doctor James D. Bates, Jr., at Chamberlain, South Dakota. Send me
your prospect now for evaluation on pigeons and yard work, and maybe
I'll bring you back a future champion come September. Taking a
limited string of field-trial and gun-dog prospects, each to receive my
personal attention. My record speaks for itself.
At dawn on July first, Jack set out from the
farm. In the creaking trailer behind his new pickup, his horse
Copenhagen munched timothy. The eight compartments of the dog box
behind the truck cab held two dogs each, young pointers and
setters. The four large-dog compartments at the front of the
trailer held eight more. And beside Copenhagen, where a second
horse usually rode on weekend trips to nearby field trials, six airline
dog crates were stacked on one another and strapped down with bungie
cords, holding another six young dogs, bringing Jack's inventory of
pupils to thirty. Twenty-four belonged to customers. Each
had paid Jack twelve hundred dollars against his pledge to send home a
dog ready to hunt. The other six belonged to Jack--at least for
now. He would break them and seek buyers.
No Sevens Kennel
Droop, West Virginia
(Call after 8
p.m. or before 6 a.m.)
The first commandment of trainer economics is, thou shalt not own
dogs. Only if every dog in the kennel brings a monthly check can
the trainer hope to stay in business. Even then the profits are
slim. Most dog trainers--all the really talented ones--could earn
much more at something else. The lure is spiritual, as with
farming or music or writing, a love of the work beyond business
logic. Jack sometimes broke the first commandment, buying puppies
that caught his fancy, then selling them after training.
Jack had never been sentimental with dogs or owners,
and when his wife Ann had been there to keep the books and send the
bills and write the customers progress notes (to go with the Polaroid
snaps she took), the business side had ticked along with what seemed to
Jack effortless efficiency. Now that he had it all to do himself,
he realized what a chore book work and owner relations had been for
Ann--especially the relations part, never his strong suit. A
scribbled half-sentence on the bill was Jack's usual report:
"Pretty good nose, hard headed," or "Fair nose, he don't want to back,"
or "Excellent nose, tends to loop his casts." Jack had bought
prestamped postcards for progress reports, but chances were he'd forget
to mail them. Of course, the owners would call--Doc's phone
number was listed (Doc had a thing about doctors with unlisted home
numbers). Dog trainers seemed to spend more time on the phone
than working dogs, a part of the business Jack hated.
After three hours, Jack pulled in at a rest stop and
let the dogs out on check cord to stretch and empty and drink water he
poured in pans. He would do this every three hours along the
way. At noon when he made Parkersburg, the temperature pushed
ninety, and he bought blocks of ice, putting one in each dog
compartment--a tested air-conditioning system the dogs loved.
Outside Dayton, he blew a trailer tire. The trailer swayed
violently, but Copenhagen kept his feet. With help from a
trooper, Jack changed to the spare. He would have to replace the
trailer tires, a further drain on the slim profits from the summer's
work. Four days later at dusk, weary but excited as a boy, Jack rolled
up to Doc's house on a bluff above the Missouri River. He'd
almost forgotten the magic of prairie country, stretching limitless
before the eye, the mesmerizing wave of grass before the ceaseless wind.
Beside him on the truck seat for all twelve hundred
miles had been a three-months-old English setter pup. Like
hundreds before that Ann had seen into the world and cared for, the pup
had been whelped in Jack's kitchen. It was the first pup born
there since Ann's death. Afterwards, Jack had sat in the kitchen
all night, thinking of Ann, completing his second year of
grieving. When the sun rose he had felt his spirits lift.
It had been as if Ann had returned to his side, at the bay window
overlooking the river, and had said, "Enough, Jack. Get on with
life. By the way, that pup is special, and so is the boy who owns
While Jack had never kept dogs in the house (except briefly those Ann
brought to the kitchen for natal care or psychological adjustment after
a training setback), he never got around to assigning Flip a kennel
run. When Flip began his weaning howls at seven weeks, Jack
brought him back in the kitchen where he had been born, and from then
on he enjoyed the run of the house. Housebreaking took only two
days; after that Flip went to a door and barked when nature
called. He slept on the throw rug beside Jack's bed. In the
truck, Flip traveled in the front seat, not in a compartment in back
like the others. With constant human companionship, he grew calm
and affectionate. When Jack reached Doc's ranch, Flip weighed
thirty pounds, rawboned and gangly, with feet and ears too big for the
rest of him.
Doc's sons helped Jack settle his dogs at their plastic-barrel
doghouses in a pine-grove shelter break west of the curtilage--all
except Flip, who would spend the summer running loose, coming into the
house at night to sleep by Jack's bed.
"That pup's going to be big as a calf before the
summer's over," Doc said.
For most of Jack's career, Doc's father had
sponsored dogs in Jack's trial string. Doc recalled many nights
from his youth when his father had phoned Jack to talk dogs, the
weekend trips with his father to field trials, meeting Jack and Ann and
riding the braces, the joy in his father's face when one of his dogs
ran a good race (it didn't have to win, but when that happened, his
father would be elated).
When he'd gone to settle his father's estate, the volume of "dog
business" papers amazed him--letters chronicling fifty years of
breeding, buying, selling dogs, their pedigrees--and a whole file
cabinet filled with correspondence with No Sevens Kennels: Ann's
neat letters with reports on dogs in training or on the circuit, along
with the monthly bills. Then, as Doc's father's Alzheimer's set
in and progressed, copies of letters to Jack complaining about the lack
of wins . . . . A letter from Jack pleading for payment for six
months of services and his father's response to the plea--a blistering
letter accusing Jack of billing him for training he hadn't done.
And Jack's response to that:
Dear Doctor Bates:
You know I would never cheat
you. Since you have lost confidence in me, I am returning your
two derby prospects--they will arrive at the Albany airport on Thursday
morning on Flight 834 (Delta).
I am sorry it has come to
this. You can forget about my bills for services.
When Doc discovered this final correspondence, he wrote Jack and asked
him to send the estate a bill for what was owed him. Jack had
Dear Little Doc:
Your father owed me nothing when he
died. He did more for me over the years than any customer or
friend I ever had. May he rest in peace.
Give me a call if you are coming down
to The Greenbrier for one of your surgeons meetings, and I'll take a
little money off you on the golf course.
After supper their first night, Doc and Jack sat
alone on the porch while Sally washed the dishes. They watched
the Missouri River turn crimson, then fall into shadow as the final
light left the vast prairie sky and the stars appeared, first one by
one, then in a rush.
"Jack, what really happened between you and Pop? I know he
stiffed you for at least three thousand dollars in training fees.
Why wouldn't you let me pay you after he died?"
Jack went to the kitchen for a glass of water. When he returned
to the porch, Doc pressed for an answer. Finally, with great
reluctance, Jack said:
"Doc, I owed your father more than he owed me. Owed him for my
A couple years after Ann and I went on the major circuit I had what
they'd call today post-traumatic stress disorder--in those days they
just said I turned into a drunk. It came to a head the winter of
sixty. Ann went to your father, and the two of them somehow
coaxed me into a hospital. I dried out for a month, and your dad
put me in the hands of a psychiatrist who figured out my trouble was a
little more than just booze. Your father checked up on me
regularly from then on, calling whenever he sensed I might be
down. When Ann had her fall, he got us the best doctors and
stayed after them to be sure they didn't slack off. At the end of
his life, your father wasn't himself."
Doc was shocked. He'd never heard a word from
his father about Jack's drinking problem--he'd known Jack drank in the
early years, and then quit abruptly and for good, but that was all.
By the third week in August, Jack had about finished breaking his
thirty pupils, and in the process taught Doc's sons a world about bird
dogs. Three of the dogs had washed up completely. The rest
were "country broke" or better. Overall they were about average,
he figured, a few somewhat less in the nose and brains
department. Six showed field-trial potential--three of his own,
three sent to him by their owners. These six he entered in the
Iron Nation Club's trial, held just twenty miles up the road. In
the derby stake, he got second and third with one of his and one of a
customer's. By the time the trial ended, he had sold all the dogs
he'd brought north as inventory.
On the Wednesday after Labor Day, Jack started for
home. At the Sioux Falls airport, he shipped a dozen summer
pupils to their owners. Others he dropped off as he passed
customers' homes in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Sunday
afternoon he reached his farm, tired but happy.
The day before he left Doc's ranch for home, they
had worked on Jack's favorite section of training grounds, a huge
alfalfa field surrounded by native prairie. After they finished
working the other dogs, they released Flip. Flip looked up at
Jack and barked, turned into the breeze and ran the edge of the
alfalfa. A long cast brought him to a dry slough at a corner,
grown up in weedy cover. Flip had never seen this area before,
but his summer's free wanderings had taught him the sort of cover to
search. Flip entered the slough and breasted through its high
weeds. The weeds went still; Flip was pointing. A gleeful
bark, the weeds swayed again, and a dozen sharptails rose cackling, set
their wings and sailed far across a coolie, the setting sunlight
lighting the bronze of their feathers.
Jack called Flip and fitted him in a roading
harness. As he and Doc rode for the trailer, Flip pulled like a
sled dog against his harness; in the months ahead this would develop
the muscles in his hindquarters and shoulders.
"That ragamuffin shag might make you and David Burch
a field-trial derby next year--if you don't spoil him to death.
Too bad he's not a pointer," Doc said.
Flip's ten-minute heat would stay etched in Jack's
and Doc's memories. It was Flip's only training from horseback of
his puppy summer, but his daily free runs around the ranch had taught
him the habits of game birds. Jack had been obedience training
him since he was six weeks old. His instincts, passed to him from
generations of hunting forebears, had lead him to seek and point
birds. Instincts still more primal told him to chase the flying
quarry, whose ancestors had been meals to his ancestors.
to be continued