Last Season (Part VIII)
Next to arrive at the drawing were Bill Dance, an owner from Virginia and his handler, an old timer named Hack Barnes from North Carolina. Their connection with the North Dakota trials held at Columbus went back several years to an incident that had acquired the status of legend as a tall but true tale among trialers….
Carle Bain read the DNA test announcement in the American Field three times before its full import sunk in. His pointer-breeding program was finished, that was for sure. How much worse than that it would prove, he was unsure.
He called his lawyer, Farley Cole, and made an appointment to see him at 4:00. When the secretary asked, “What about?” he said, “A property matter,” but refused to be more specific. When at 4:00 he sat down in the captain’s chair across the desk from Farley and told him the sordid tale, the lawyer’s face filled with rage. Then Farley said, “Get your sorry ass out of here, Carle, and don’t come back. Call my secretary when you’ve selected your new lawyer, and I’ll send him—or her—your files. I suggest you select one in another county. If you choose either of the other two in this town, word will seep out on the gossip grapevine, and what’s left of your questionable reputation will be gone. I wouldn’t care, except your long suffering wife does not deserve that even though you do.”
Farley Cole was, like Carle Bain, a pointing-dog field-trial addict. The two had as school boys hunted quail together on the vast ridgy pastures of southeast Kansas; then as young men become fascinated by trialing when the itinerant dog trainers came in early fall to work their strings around Yates City. Carle became a tractor salesman and bought the business from the owner’s widow when the owner died young. Over the decade just ended, he’d made a fortune from the business, thanks to the genetic optimism of farmers and the credit and subsidy payments assured them by the government. Farley Cole had done well too, thanks to his specialty of tax planning for farmers who’d prospered mostly through land appreciation. Both men were naturally shrewd and loved a dollar, but in Carle’s case, that love knew no bounds. Farley now knew that from what Carle had told him that prompted his firing of Carle as a client.
Carle’s problem was this. He owned a pointer female named Kansas Callie that was a blue hen. They said you could breed her to a fence post, and she’d produce half a dozen champions from the litter. She had, in fact, produced ten champions, some all-age and some shooting dog, and she was just six years old. She was registered as being by his Kansas Coaster out of a bitch Farley had raised, Yates City Belle. In fact she was no kin to either—she was stolen property, stolen by a renegade rancher who owed Carle Bain more money than he’d ever be able to pay, stolen on orders from Carle, stolen off the string of a professional dog handler who’d stopped over on a ranch adjoining the dog thief’s to work his dogs before going to the Quail Futurity in neighboring Oklahoma. Carle had seen the bitch compete as a derby in North Dakota and tried to buy her, but her owner wouldn’t sell. He had to have her—there was something about the way she moved and the super nose she showed with three sharptail finds on a blistering day. Her name then was Blistering Bess, which Carle found ironic.
So Carle Bain was a dog thief—Farley knew his old companion and client was not above sharp dealing, but a dog thief? That was as low as it got, Farley figured. Whatever befell Carle he deserved, Farley mused.
No one in Kansas had seen the female registered as Kansas Callie since she’d been stolen on orders from Carle Bain. He had her boarded with a vet in a small town in eastern Oklahoma where twice a year she whelped a litter with shipped-in chilled semen from a champion sire Carle selected. After weaning, Carle
brought the litters to his Kansas spread to be socialized by the wife of a farmhand who was good at it and was also Carle’s girlfriend. When the litter was a year old, Carle sent them north for prairie training, then sold them as coming derbies on Callie’s blue-hen reputation and the rumors that circulated among trialers who saw them in prairie workouts or early-fall derby stakes. Callie’s pups were in fashion, no doubt about it, and Carle Bain had pocketed thousands from selling the stolen female’s get. But that would soon be over, Carle now realized. He could not afford to send Callie’s saliva to the American Field for it could reveal she was not bred as he’d registered her.
What must he do not to be caught? He talked to the vet who was handling the pups who said, “You’ve got to declare Callie dead. If she’s not alive, you don’t have to produce her DNA.” Carle called around and got conformation the vet was right. He wondered how many blue hens were going to die as a result of the DNA rule.
Rascal that he was, Carle could not bring himself to kill Callie. It was not compassion, but the love of a dollar that led him to sell her to a truck-dog jockey
in South Texas (with another set of false papers, of course, this time Callie became Kansas Katie). Then he sent an announcement to the Field that Callie was dead, victim of a twisted gut. He got condolence calls from owners of Callie’s offspring across the country.
Months passed and Carle began to relax. He missed the extra dollars Callie pups had brought him so regularly, but tractor and combine sales were still strong. Callie’s offspring were winning steadily—every issue of the Field contained at least one announcement of a Callie pup win.
Then a strange thing happened. A report in the Field of a Deep South championship recited that a Callie pup had been found on point on account of its bark. The handler was quoted by the reporter as saying the new champion regularly barked when lost on point. Then similar stories about Callie pups began to pop up on the Field Trial Pointer Message Board and other Internet sites.
One trialer who noticed was Hack Barnes, the handler from whose string Blistering Bess had been snatched. Bess (aka Callie aka Katie) as a derby had also barked when lost on point. Hack called Bess’ true owner, and they discussed the suspicions of Hack, which quickly became those of the owner, Bill Dance of Virginia.
Bill Dance still owned the sire and dam of Bess (Callie-Katie). He called a specialist in canine genetics at Virginia Tech’s vet school and explained his suspicions. Could DNA samples from Bess’ sire and dam prove Kansas Callie offspring were their grandsons or granddaughters? Absolutely, said the professor.
Armed with this information, Bill Dance paid a call on the American Field. He was told that if a claimed sire or dam of a dog were dead, no further inquiry of parentage DNA would be considered. While in Chicago, Bill Dance asked to talk with someone in the Stud Book department about registrations and transfers of dogs made by Carle Bain. It didn’t take long to find the transfer by Carle Bain of Kansas Katie to Ron Ferguson of Rachael, Texas.
Bill Dance called Ferguson and booked a hunt with him for a month ahead. Then he asked Ferguson if Kansas Katie by any chance barked when lost on point.
“How did you know that?” Ferguson replied.
And that’s how Carle Bain was caught. He settled with Bill Dance for a six-figure number before suit was filed, making for the biggest dog-case settlement or award in U.S. dog litigation history. Now Blistering Bess (a.k.a. Kansas Callie and Kansas Katie) is back with Bill Dance, her rightful owner, and Carle Bain is out of the dog-breeding business and field trials. All because of an inheritable trait carried by a few pointers and setters, the intelligence or instinct to summons scout or handler to a point by a bark.
To be continued in the last chapter, Part IX