Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rushin' Bills Gr. Ch. 35

GR. CH. 35 

THE BEGINNING: It was a blistering hot day in central Oklahoma, the second time I saw the little buckskin dog that, as fate would have it, was eventually to change my life. We were in the midst of the heat wave of 1980, suffering through over forty straight days of hundred degree plus temperatures, and when I heard the knock at my door, I really didn't feel like answering, not just because of the heat, but due mostly to one of the worst hangovers of my adult life. Fortunately, I did answer, only to be confronted by a fellow who looked at least as bad as I felt. I didn't recognize him immediately as we had only met once before and it wasn't until I saw the dog in the back seat of his car that I knew who it was that had summoned me from my nauseous stupor aboard the "porcelain pony" in my bathroom. He probably didn't remember my name either as we had only spoken briefly for one day when I had seen him walking the pup and stopped to ask about it. He didn't know how the dog was bred and said only that a friend had given it to him as a young pup the last time he passed through New Mexico, judging from his apparent age, at least six or eight months ago. I thought no more about the man or his pup until that day, several months later, when in the scorching midday sun, he and the dog showed up on my doorstep. He said, "I know you know about these dogs and I was wondering if you would give me thirty five dollars for him. I have to go away to MacAlester (state prison) for a few months and my wife doesn't like the dog. It's okay if you want to fight him or whatever." My first impulse, standing there staring at him, his long sweat-soaked hair clinging to the ashen skin of his face and neck, (and my stomach doing cartwheels across my torso) was to tell him to "take a hike" so I could rush back to my retreat in the "John". But a little voice in the back of my brain (the crazy "dog man" voice) said "Hey Bill, you can't raise a pup to a year old for thirty five dollars, much less buy one. Maybe you should give it a shot?" I said "Wait here. I'll see if I have the cash." It turned out to be one of the luckiest (if not the most immediately enjoyable) decisions I have ever made. I must confess I didn't even feel like walking the yearling pup for almost twenty four hours. I just put him in a crate downstairs and went back to wishing I were temporarily dead.

I remember marveling at how uncannily silent the dog was, never making a peep the whole time, nor did he soil his crate before I finally got around to taking him out. It was only then that I saw he was absolutely covered with ticks! They were in his ears, between his toes, in his armpits, everywhere! So, after he took a long, long pee and moved his bowels, our first mission was to soak him good with a powerful insecticide. I noticed too, on that first walk with him, that he would go in any direction except where you wanted him to go, a trait which would stay with him the rest of his life. And one which isn't too convenient for trying to "empty out" a match dog. I got him "wormed out" as well as taking care of the tick problem and wondered if my money might not have been better spent on feed for the twenty or so dogs I already owned. After all, I didn't even know the breeding of the dog and what were the odds of this orphan turning out to be worth keeping? But he was mine now and the money was gone; I might as well keep an open mind about him and see how my investment turned out. I mean, I had some well bred dogs in my yard but nothing that was looking like a world beater, and who knows, maybe this little buckskin dog would be that "ace" every dog man dreams of.

He was already a year old so it wouldn't take much longer or much feed to find out. And he was a good looking little dog, nice head, good body structure and big teeth! Five or six weeks later, I decided to walk him up to another of my males to see if he might be ready to start. I chose Cody, a well bred Hank/Jesse/Bolio cross with some old Wallace and Jim Williams blood mixed in too. He was a few pounds larger and six months older than the buckskin pup, who at that point, I don't think I'd even chosen a name for, (no sense in "wasting" a good name on a dog that would probably "quit" anyway, right?) But this was just to be a "starter bump" anyway, to see how badly I'd squandered my thirty five bucks. I wouldn't let Cody hurt him, as Cody had started and looked promising in rolls and, of course, the pup had no experience at all. I intended to give him the same chance as all my dogs got, to "make the grade", though I vowed he would certainly get "game-tested" a lot harder due to my lack of confidence in his, at least to me, mysterious family tree. I took him off his chain and approached Cody cautiously, as I didn't even bother to pick up a breaking stick, so sure was I that probably nothing would happen anyway between the two youngsters. Cody, stiff legged, growled but before either Cody or myself could do anything to stop him (we had different methods in mind, Cody and I), the pup had grabbed Cody by the side of the head, flipped him over his shoulder and was vigorously shaking and working his hold! Fortunately, I was seasoned enough not to panic but I was so surprised that it took me a few moments to collect myself enough to formulate a plan and get the now angrily combative, young adversaries apart. Later, after putting the soon to be named, buckskin pup back on his chain, I had a chance to ponder what had happened. What had happened? "How did that thirteen month old pup do that to Cody?", I wondered? Soon enough, I would understand that it wasn't a fluke I had just witnessed but the coming of age of the best pit dog I have ever seen. That tick-infested, buckskin pup of unknown breeding was soon to become the feared, 35 Dollar Dog, destined to win eight straight contract matches, without a loss, and would eventually become known as the famous GR. CH 35.

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