Friday, September 11, 2015

Hitting the Bigtime Part Two

The word comes at 5:30 pm, we're ready to roll. The promoters and their connections will be leading convoys of cars of no more than twenty in a group. We are reminded not to trail too closely, we don't want to attract attention. This is a very rural area, the local cops are ok but you never know when Highway Patrol might happen along and get nosey.

After about twelve miles cars begin to slow and blinkers flicker a left turn. This is a sand track through a planted pine forest. The traffic starts to backup about a quarter mile in, we've come to the check point. Cars occupants are identified and the gate fees collected collected. It's ten dollars per match from each of the men. Women and children are always welcomed at no charge. We continue on through the woods until we get to a cleared area and are directed to parking areas near an old barn. After the darkness of the forest and the cloud obscured moon it seems as bright as a sports stadium.

There is a roof extending from the barn open on all sides. The bleachers are on two sides and the roof covers the pit and first few rows of seating. Karen Hargroves has saved a seat and I'm first tier between her and Frank from VA. The food, scales and wash station are in the barn as is a toilet reserved for ladies only. Karen asks if I'm hungry or would rather she set a plate aside for me. I opt for the later, adrenaline is a great drug but also an appetite suppressant.

The bleachers are on opposite sides of the pit. The barn wall is at the end to the right of me. There are two signs posted on the wall. One sign lists the order of the matches with the names of the people and weights and sexes of the dogs. The second sign is more interesting : "Welcome to the 1st Annual Maurice Carver Memorial Convention". Oh yeah, this is really the big time and I'm really here. There will be between 300 and 400 hundred spectators in attendance. I feel like a rube on my first trip to the city.

The wait tonight will be long, the cars are still coming in. There's a man with a walkie talkie in contact with people in the woods at the turn in. When everyone who is expected is in and accounted for the gate will be locked. The lookouts will remain in place until the first match just in case. There's another sand track continuing on through past the pit and back into the woods. It comes out behind someone's house if we need to make a run for it. This explains the close attention to parking. I'm gratified to have been put in the "V.I.P. lot, I'm good for a fast exit if need be.

Jack Kelly and his entourage are here tonight. Kelly is more on top of his game than the usual suspects and his brother is a cop in New York. He's someone of whom I've always felt wary. I greet him as an old friend and he thanks me for the photos. They're of much better quality than Pete Sparks' and I don't use a flash in order not to blind or distract the dogs. I'll be shooting "Best" and "Gamest" in show tonight as well as action photos. Kelly is as wary of me as I am of him but we must play out our roles as we trust each other.

Most of the dogs here have won one or more matches already and a few are looking to make champion. Bruce Turlington's dog Dipstick is one of the few looking for win number one but there's still a lot of talk about him. Baker Davis is here with Midnight Cowboy who will have a Ch. added to his name before dawn as will Harry Hargroves' Red Danger.

Baker Davis is someone I've long wanted to meet. His dog Gr. Ch. Boomerang is quite famous and came from Maurice Carver. I get an introduction and we get on well, I get invited to visit his yard the following weekend.  Several people will be coming for a cookout and to "look at" some dogs in schooling rolls. I wouldn't miss it for the world and get specific directions and phone number. He likes to help newcomers get started right as do most of old pros in the game. Fresh blood is necessary to the continuation and expansion of their sport. They're always looking for the right kind of people to continue the tradition.

The mingling continues until everyone who is expected has been accounted for. The gate is locked and we'll be ready for the first match promptly at eight, the time for which the first combatants have been fed. Part of conditioning is adjusting the dog's feeding schedule so that his digestive tract is empty at the time of the match. This not only insures that the dogs in on weight but but will help them not overheat during their fight. I shoot a couple more quick pics getting the match lineup while I still have the time.

I retake my seat and check my extra film cache before the announcement. It's a little different tonight, everyone here is well known to the fancy, there will be no unknown quantities to distract from tonight's events. Any threat to this convention will come from the outside. We are safe here only in the company of our own.

I will be concentrating on only a few matches tonight that I expect will be very depictive of the reality of dogfighting. We desperately need to upgrade the state laws everywhere from misdemeanor to felony. At this time only California has felony dogfighting laws. Most states only fine fifty dollars or less on gambling charges. The dogfighters get their dogs back which is intolerable. Very little will be done to end this atrocity without providing motivation to law makers to take action. Drugs, guns, untaxed cigarettes and liquor are always prevalent at these events and I want my photos to include this. Cash is always visible as bets are laid and paid. I'll have all this on film as I'm front row center and have to just shift slightly to cover the crowd across the pit from me. No one will know they've been shot, I'm just shooting the dogs after all.

The dogs have been washed and weighted and are being brought into the pit. The first match is about to commence.

28 comments:

orangedog said...

Wow, it sounds like the local cops look the other way or are involved.
And the part about free admission for women and children... are there often children at these things?! :(

PutMeInCharge4OneDay said...

You are a superb writer.

Honestly I feel like I am there.

Women and children free, and women have their own bathroom who says chivalry is dead?

tropical storms said...

PutMe, they were always perfect gentlemen in their behavior toward me, right up until the time they wanted to have me killed, lol.
Orangedog, I never attended a show that was child free. I have seen kids as young as thirteen handle dogs in contract matches.

april 29 said...

Holy cow TS, you sure did hit the big time. You rubbed shoulders with dog fighting royalty here.

snack sized dog said...

I completely agree with PutMe - you are a superb writer and I also feel like I'm there.

I found these photos a while ago and they are haunting - I thought of them immediately reading your piece

http://americasdog.blogspot.com/2012/01/dog-fighting-can-be-hazardous-to-your.html

really amazing writing!

tropical storms said...

Thank you guys. When contemplating how to present this information I decided that I would attempt to take the readers to pitside with me. This is the way in which I experienced the events from an internal perspective as well as allowing a glimpse of the cover persona as it functions. If I have been successful in taking you in to my world I have accomplished my objective. If you've enjoyed the written ride along I'm pleased, I've been told I have an engaging writing style.
As to dogfighting royalty yes I engaged the top dogmen of the day some of whom are still active. I expect I'll introduce you to more of them at some point in time. Thanks again for the kind words and for riding along.

DubV said...

Wow, there is no way that I could have done what you did. I would've been so nervous and unnatural that I would've been spotted from a mile away. I read an undercover cop state that you are either a good or horrible actor in these situations. I'm impressed with your writing and ability to pull off your work. The photographer angle was perfect, but I'm sure it put you under increased scrutiny especially if you didn't have dogs of your own.

tropical storms said...

DubV, I was getting dogs from them. I've actually been given some of the best bred pups of the day. As far as I am aware no covert operative has ever not gone in as someone building a yard. Those I was given either were passed on to other investigators or were put down with one exception. I had the opportunity to get an extremely inbred pup from a pure line that historically produced a high percentage of cold dogs. That one I kept knowing that I would euthanize him at the first sign of incipient start. He did in fact turn out to be cold as lived out his life with me as a house dog.

orangedog said...

They read this site, right? They must be fuming - probably more so the nutters who don't like their pibble bubble burst.
You are a good writer TS. I'm enjoying your posts even though the subject matter is gross. I'm hoping these guys get taken down at the end of the tale. I bet they were super pissed about being had.

tropical storms said...

OD. Mad enough to want to kill when we finally faced off with each other. If you think the nutters are pissed now just wait. I'm going to blow up the man fighters were culled crap and give documentation they can check for themselves.

orangedog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
orangedog said...

I hope you don't have to worry about them anymore. Unfortunately, I don't think the nutters will believe your documentation. They don't believe in facts.

tropical storms said...

OD. They'll read it. They won't comment on it here but they'll read it and discuss it elsewhere. You notice they've been silent so far regarding my posts?

tropical storms said...

OD. I'm not fussed about them. They're curs.

S.K.Y. said...

This is great stuff! Thanks for writing it, and we are all looking forward to your future best-selling book.

DubV said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dude, I BaggedYourPit said...

This is great writing! And special applause for anyone who can work covertly; there aren't a lot of people who can pull that off.

Meals on Wheels said...

Surreal, page turner.....

april 29 said...

TS,

Did Kelly use your photos in the Sporting Dog Journal?

tropical storms said...

Yes indeed. So did Pit Dog Report which was then being published by Raymond and Sharon Holt.

Packhorse said...

This is a book we're going to want to get into the hands of every library director out there. The amount of nutter lie books is staggering. There needs to be balance, and currently there is none.

dawn james said...

ask the expert:

does trunking exist?

tropical storms said...

Yeah, it's a fairly new phenomena committed by urban gangbangers. It really has nothing to do with pit fighting, just a bunch of cranked up little psychopaths torturing animals because they can. My understanding is they bet on which one lives. The real dogmen hate them as much as the hate your average neighborhood pitiots.

dawn james said...

thanks TS. i've read more than once that trunking is an urban myth. i wonder, do the dogmen (rural racist rednecks) hate them because they are urban blacks or do they actually hate the act of trunking?

also, can you lay to rest the myth of feeding pit dogs gun powder? i just don't see how that could be considered a viable keep, i mean unless you want your dog to lose.

dawn james said...

to clarify, i think it was an ex-dogman named frank that used to comment here that made the claim that trunking was a myth.

tropical storms said...

Dawn, the dogmen, both white and black hate gangbangers. They give the breed a bad name and call too much attention to them just like the pitiots who think bulldogs are just like any other dog. Those guys who let their dogs run loose or fail to properly confine them but the dogs in the news. They hate trunking, street fights, etcetera as well because it isn't a dogfight. Dogs should have the opportunity to quit at all times. They should also be same sex, close weight (for rolls, to the ounce for a contract match), and conducted by common sense and at least a modicum of reason.
Bulldogs are not fed gun powder. You can find an assortment of keeps with include feeding out and info on supplements. At one time Cockers used gun powder in feeding game roosters. I think that's the origin of that myth.

Dayna Hamilton said...

I'm going to go back and re-read everything you've written TS... it's just mind blowing to me. This is such a bizarre culture, the dogfighting ones. And yet, I'd be perfectly happy if the dogfighters could keep their dogs and their fights as long as these dogs stayed where they belonged. NOT in your average families homes in neighborhoods all over the country. If I never had to see a pit bull again being walked down the street by a middle aged woman or a gangbanger, great. If I never had to worry about some douchbag's loose pit getting my kid or my pets, fabulous.

Anonymous said...

The writing reminds me of white fang by Jack London. Could just be the subject matter :)

@Dayna Hamilton - the dog men need pit bulls in the community as a cover. If only dog men owned them then it would be too easy to find dogfighters & pit breeders and close them down.
As for me I hate the idea of blood sports at all. I live in a country where certain forms of animal abuse is legal - as in torturing and then killing a bull for a live audience. It's disgusting and the people who watch these things become immune to other forms of violence. It just becomes normal to see suffering.

For civilisation to progress we need to treat all life with respect, not just human life.