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A man's best friend can also be a man's best inspiration role model. I'm rooting for Buddy!

Buddy qualifies for national event

"I knew I had to hunt Buddy again when I came home one afternoon just a few days after his leg was amputated and my hunting coat and hat were lying in the middle of the living room floor with Buddy sitting there waiting for me. He had pulled them out of a closet."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/leadertimes/sports/s_174937.html
 

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Oh great you get me intrigued with that teaser and a few good reviews.....then.....the link comes up empty. Seriously, post it again if you can or it may just be my computer I just hope I can find it.

Mike
 

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Buddy qualifies for national event

By Tom Mitchell, LEADER TIMES
Friday, January 16, 2004

DAYTON -- History of sorts was made Nov. 28 and 29 at the Smoking Gun Hunting Preserve, Hamilton, Ill. by "Buddy," a three-legged dog. Buddy's owner, Denny Linkes of Dayton said his Labrador retriever had his right front leg amputated in October due to bone cancer. Linkes, a well-known area dog trainer, was not one to "retire" Buddy to the sidelines, and Buddy, wouldn't stand for it anyhow.
"I knew I had to hunt Buddy again when I came home one afternoon just a few days after his leg was amputated and my hunting coat and hat were lying in the middle of the living room floor with Buddy sitting there waiting for me. He had pulled them out of a closet."

Linkes began putting Buddy through a conditioning regimen. He said Buddy's progress and zeal surprised even him. he never expected such rapid progress.

After seeing Buddy's astounding recovery Linkes said he came up with what some might call a "crazy" idea, entering Buddy in a Pheasant Hunters Unlimited national qualifier.

Linkes called Terry Phillips, manager of Smoking Gun Preserve. He said Phillips was skeptical at first, but finally granted permission for him to enter Buddy. Linkes and Buddy headed off to the Land of Lincoln and the toughest challenge of their lives.

Weather for the event was downright brutal. Dogs and handlers faced temperatures in the teens with wind gusts up to 30 mph. Such conditions make finding birds extremely difficult for any dog, and make for some very tough shooting. As per his usual custom, he headed for his assigned field riding in the back of a pickup trunk with Buddy, not up front where most hunters usually sit.

"It's part of the bonding process," Linkes said. "If my dogs endure a ride in brutal cold or rain, sleet or summer heat in the back of a truck, so do I."

Word that a three-legged dog would be vying for a place in the nationals spread like wildfire and spectators lined up on distant vantage points, watching the hunt unfold through binoculars, braving bone-chilling winds.

Buddy gave the performance of his life, four flushes, four downed birds and four near perfect retrieves, all in 10 minutes 12 seconds. Buddy's total score was 204, a mere eight points behind the first place (four-legged) dog that scored 212.

"Buddy would have a done better," Linkes said. "He might have taken first, however, during one retrieve Buddy had to go through some high saw grass and got tangled up and fell."

According to the rules Linkes, now in a state of panic, wasn't allowed to move one step. The judge went over to where Buddy was having difficulty. He later told Linkes that Buddy fell after getting tangled in the high grass and was struggling to get up. He struggled for nearly half a minute but during the entire time he never once let go of the bird. When he regained his footing, he made a beeline for Linkes with the bird firmly in his mouth. Linkes said it didn't matter to him if Buddy placed.

"I just wanted him to have the satisfaction of hunting and competing as he did before his surgery. Winning was merely a plus," Linkes said. "He came through like the true champ that he is."

Of course, part of Buddy's score was due to Linkes' shooting. To bag four birds with four shots in brutal cold and a driving wind is quite a feat, but Linkes never mentioned that part. It was documented on Buddy's score sheet.

This past weekend Buddy and Linkes nearly did it again. At a second national qualifier at Heggamier's Game Farm in Higbee, Mo., competing against 175 of the best dogs in the nation, buddy scored an impressive 105 points, 50 short of the 150 need to qualify. Linkes said that a bird flew out of bounds which cost a lot of points.

"That's the way it is," Linkes said. "There's a lot of skill on the part of both dog and handler, but a lot of luck involved. If a high wind blows a bird off course the instant you shoot, a dog blows by a bird just five or so feet downwind, a bird goes out of bounds, or your gun jambs, whatever, you're going to lose points. Lady luck smiled on us big time at Smoking Gun, but she must have been hiding for a while at Heggamiers."

Despite losing a few points in Missouri Buddy qualifies for the nationals to be held Smoking Gun Preserve in late March.

Tom Mitchell can be reached at [email protected] or (724) 543-1303 ext 220.
 

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What an awesome story. Labs are great... aren't they? ;)

Salmonator.... about that tear... no "almost" when I read it!!
 
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