I know I'm solid. I am absolutely granite rock solid. I've been invited to one of the biggest conventions in the country! My friend Harry Hargroves and his partner Robert Swetman are promoting this one. I got the call two weeks ago and my adrenaline level spikes to an Everest high the day of the show. I'm so high I'm cruising at 30,000 feet in still clear air. It's the best high on earth and I need it for my job.
The old Silver Fox, Maurice Carver died only a few days before the meet.
The dogmen all have sads. Funnily enough it's not bothering me in the
least. We talk about Carver and the old timers, old days and old dogs
sitting around the motel. Good stories and I'm being introduced to some
of the major players from all over the country. Their stories are
wonderful, I can't get enough. My genuine interest aids my cover - they
love an attentive audience. The Devines are here from central Florida.
They're not showing at the convention, they're very wary of large
gatherings. They are fighting at a private residence in the early
afternoon. Don Devine invites me personally, after all I'm with all the
right people and have been around long enough to be quite well trusted.
He asks me to bring my camera, both dogs are highly touted and it should
be a good one. Not a problem. Even Pete Sparks won't be at this match,
mine will be the only camera pitside this afternoon.
We hit the local I-Hop for lunch and leave from there. I'm riding with a
dogman from Virginia to the pit. This house is way in the woods at
southeast Georgia /northern Florida border. The sand track driveway is
approximately a quarter mile long. It's really pretty here, good
landscaping, nice home, not what I'm accustomed to in dogfighter abodes.
We park in front of the house and are met by the principals. These guys
are really careful. When the dozen or so invitees are accounted for the
gate is locked. As I walk back toward the dogpit I see a stack of tires
placed to form a ring. When I get closer I see a little bulldog puppy
maybe eight weeks old inside the tire ring. His front paws don't reach
the top. He's just too cute. I'd take a shot if I weren't afraid of
burning film, it's going to be a very long day and night.
One of the Devines' boys will be handling their entrant. It's males at
32# and each of these dogs has won a good match before this one. Both
dogs are red, the Devine dog a deep dark red, his opponent lighter.
They're on weight and in excellent condition. This ain't no drop match
folks it's the real deal.
They meet in the center of the pit at the words "let go". Holy shit
they're fast! Fast mouth, fast foot and unreal talent. I've been going
to the wrong goddamn dog matches. The "B" grade is a natural starting
point but now I'm seeing top flight dogs. Neither dog has much mouth and
very little damage is being done. As cool and overcast as it is if they
are game and have good wind this could be a long one.
For the first hour and thirty there are no turns and no out of holds.
Finally a turn is called and they are able to make a handle. This will
start the scratch in turn as specified under the rules of the contract,
which is modified Cajun rules for this fight. The handlers are tossed
sponges from a shared water bucket to cool and clean the dogs. They are
checked for fanging and time is called to face the dogs.
The dog that turns first must scratch first and depending on the rules
in use must make contact with the opponent either hair to hair or taking
hold. There are actually several different sets of rules governing a
dogfight. When a contract is made the rules to be used are specified
along with sex, weight, time, place, the wager amount and forfeit. On
occasion there will be contingency plans in the event of disruption by
law enforcement. Only rarely are the dogs specified in the contract.
The scratching begins but it's another twenty minutes to the next
handle. We're now at about the two hour mark and the action has slowed.
Both dogs are still strong and engaged and have scratched well. Finally
at the 2:40 mark the light red dog is counted out before he makes
contact. The Devines' dog has won number two and the loser is happy with
his little dog as well. Both have shown to be seriously game little
dogs. We all now head back to the motel for more tales of dogs and
dogmen past until time to leave for the convention.
end part one