Brag Dog and Other Stories: The Best of Vereen Bell
Now the second hour wore on. Some said Hotfoot was ahead, some said Sam. They were about even on birds, anyway; the rest of it was conjecture. Hotfoot had an inner fire that seemed to drive him like a demon, and when he pointed you had to swallow the lump in your throat to see such cocky perfection; he seemed to be posing, trying to lift his head higher than his tail, a living thing turned to cold granite; when he pointed he was no longer a dog, he was a statue that no sculptor could have chiseled.
At first glance he seemed truly immobile, for he never allowed himself to pant, mouth open, or to tremble. But if you watched closely you could see his upper lip shake with exhalations, and you could see the hide stretch tightly over his flaring ribs as he breathed, see the slow movement of his eyes as he looked slightly back to see if McGinnis was coming. Ambling Sam made up in handling and bird-wisdom what he lacked in youthful fire. When Hawthorne wanted Sam to turn, he squalled and lifted his whip; and Sam, a half mile away, turned as if he had a string tied to him and the old handler had pulled it. As Duff rode the fringes of the course, he was not seeing Sam but his dog, Judas. If I could ever get that old fool of mine to handle like that I’d have the best damn dog in the world…
Illustrated by Marguerite Kirmse, “Brag Dog and Other Stories” is a must have for anyone who loves bird dogs and field trials. For more information about these stories and Vereen Bell and to purchase the book, please visit our online Strideaway Store.