Underdog

Underdog by Laurien Berenson Read Free Book Online

Book: Underdog by Laurien Berenson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Laurien Berenson
Tags: Suspense
dogs. And if they don’t win, well . . . you’d better believe everyone else is keeping score.”
    â€œBut Rick and Jenny were winning, weren’t they? She told me something about a top Cocker . . . ?”
    â€œThat would be Charlie. Champion Shadowland’s Super Charged. He is good. I think he even has a shot at the Quaker Oats Award this year. Of course, now with Jenny out of the picture, that may change.”
    Aunt Peg had been coaching me on how dog shows worked for nearly half a year now. Little by little I was getting so I could understand most of the shorthand. All of the different breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club are divided into seven groups, according to form or function: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. The Quaker Oats Award is an extremely prestigious prize given out just before Westminster to the dog in each group that had won the most group firsts during the preceding year. Jenny’s Cocker Spaniel would have been competing in the Sporting Group.
    â€œRick will continue to show the dog, won’t he?”
    â€œI imagine he will. Of course that will be up to Mrs. Byrd, Charlie’s owner, but this close to the end of the year, they’d be foolish not to go for it. Charlie was Jenny’s dog, though. I’m sure the judges thought of them as a team. With Rick, it just won’t be the same.”
    Aunt Peg turned and looked across the room. “I imagine Harry Flynn will be pleased about that. I wonder if that’s why he’s here.”
    A thin stoop-shouldered man was standing off by himself next to a spray of lilies. His wiry hair had receded back to the middle of his head and was graying slightly at the temples. His suit, a drab shade of brown, had been paired with a loud multi-colored tie whose tails hung down below his belt. Despite the two “No Smoking” signs posted at either door, he’d cupped his hand around a lit cigarette he held down at his side.
    â€œIs that who you were staring at before?”
    â€œStaring?” Aunt Peg mused. “Was I really? I just hadn’t expected to see him here, that’s all.”
    â€œWhy? Who is he?”
    â€œAnother sporting dog handler. He’s got a Cocker and a Springer of his own and they’ve both been bumping up against Charlie all year. After he’d lost one too many times, I gather he lodged a complaint accusing one of Jenny’s dogs of being dyed.”
    â€œDyed? Is that possible?”
    â€œIt’s more than possible, it happens all the time in Poodles and in some of the other breeds as well. The Cocker in question was black, and Harry alleged that the dog had a rather large white spot on his chest that was being covered up. If that was true, the dog would have been disqualified and the AKC would have taken punitive action against Jenny as his handler.”
    â€œAnd what happened?”
    â€œAs things turned out, not much. At the moment, the American Kennel Club doesn’t have a testing procedure in place for proving or disproving an allegation like that. And to disqualify an entry simply on the basis of hearsay? I can’t think of anything that would expose them to a lawsuit faster.
    â€œIn the end, there was nothing they could do. The black Cocker quietly finished his championship and went home, while Jenny continued to win everything in sight with Charlie. Of course, there’s been bad blood between Harry and the Maguires ever since.”
    â€œIt does seem surprising he’d come here then, doesn’t it?”
    â€œAfter all the years I’ve been showing Poodles, nothing surprises me anymore. I think we’ve stayed long enough. How about you?”
    I nodded and we headed for the door. Aunt Peg has always been pretty crafty and I wondered later whether her sudden desire to leave was prompted by the fact that Harry Flynn was also making a move in that direction. Whether by accident or

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