Mystery and Crime Fiction posted February 16, 2010 Chapters:  ...36 37 -38- 39... 


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A chapter in the book Blind Trust

Amazing Grace

by Showboat


Rudy shook hands with Steve, clapping him on the back in greeting. "Today is the big one, huh? I have to admit, I'm thrilled. Max is a go, I know. All we have to do is introduce him to his new trainer and that's that. Our little Gracie, on the other hand." He shook his head and grimaced. "A rough deal, huh?"

"Yes she is, for sure. We've had a couple of issues over the past few days that I wanted to pass by you. She doesn't want to accept my authority. Oh, she follows orders to the letter, never a problem there. It's ... I don't know, like she's challenging me mentally for leadership, or, I don't know, you'll see. So far it's come to nothing. Anyway, thought I'd pass that on."

"Alpha female, just like her dam. It's okay for this application, but it's a real problem in the progeny and it's why I don't breed for it. I'm going to see if I can get her to switch allegiance to the new handler right off. Can't hurt." Rudy shrugged.

"How does she relate to you?" Steve asked.

"She doesn't like me any better than she likes you, and I know what you mean. You're just waiting for her to challenge an order. Still, she never does. She's a hell of a team player and I know she'll do a good job for these guys."

They walked out the back door and approached the kennels. For a variety of reasons, Gracie occupied a corner spot in the first row.

As they came around the corner of the building, Rudy was struck once again by her beauty. She lay on her padded bunk, at rest, attention on the distant groves. Her nostrils twitched and in a moment she became aware, alert.

She turned her sharply sculpted head and stared at Rudy, dark eyes intent, ears up. Her stubby tail twitched twice and was still.

Blackest of black, tall and sleek, she was at least fifteen pounds heavier than the top 'ideal weight' for a Doberman, let alone a female. She resembled an onyx statue only better. Gracie was a living work of art.

Ears now up, tips pointing to each other, she glided down from the bunk, muscles rippling under velvet skin. She never took her eyes off Rudy as she reached the kennel gate in three steady strides.

"My God, you're magnificent." He turned to Steve, admiration clear on his face and nodded. "I've never seen an animal in better condition. You talk about fit."

Pride filled Steve's voice. "I think the DHS guys will think they got their money's worth. She does look good, doesn't she?" He chuckled, nodding at the light puff of dust indicating a car on the driveway. "Company."

"Okay. You said you two had issues, so I'll take it from here. She seems slightly happy to see me. Tell the guys in the warehouse to be ready for some real stuff."

Steve nodded and walked up to the driveway as three people got out of the animal transport unit.

"Gracie, you are a sight for sore eyes. I hear you're giving Steve the hairy eyeball." Rudy began to hum under his breath as he drew on the heavily padded gloves that hung outside her door. He shifted the vest on his shoulders, feeling the more than twenty pounds of insulated padding that covered both arms and his torso. He picked up her leash and said, "Sit, Gracie."

Rudy opened the gate, closing it behind him. "You are so pretty, it's a shame you're such a bitch." He pushed her jaws away from his hand and snapped the heavy duty chain onto the ring in her collar. He wrapped the chain around his hand several times. "Let's go meet your new team mates. Party manners, right?"

Gracie snapped at his wrist again, settled for chewing the ends of his fingers for a moment then gave up. She raised her baleful eyes to his and sighed.

"One for me, huh?"

She snorted.


Two men and a woman met them at the outside obstacle course, each garbed with protective equipment like Rudy's.

Steve made the introductions, including Special Agent Georgia Stein, K9 division, DHS.

Rudy took the dog to the staging area in the pasture and removed her collar and leash. Through hand and voice signals, he put the dog through her paces, the performance as flawless and obedient as ever. Rudy called her to his side, replaced her collar and then indicated that Agent Stein approach.

She stopped about six feet from them, her eyes drilling into Gracie's. She raised a cautionary finger to Rudy as he began to speak, and maintained her gaze.

The dog returned the attitude with some of her own, giving back the stare with interest, ears sharp and perked.

Slowly Agent Stein drew two deep, audible breaths and softened her bearing somewhat, although maintaining clear dominance. From time to time, she'd drop her gaze and blink, only to bring it back again, unwavering. Her stance changed as she relaxed her shoulders, her posture visibly lighter. With body language clearly in play, the dog mirrored her actions.

Eyes still fixed on each other, Agent Stein closed the small distance between them, extended her hand and took the leash from Rudy. Snapping her fingers, she issued the command to heel and walked off across the pasture, her new partner at her side.

They returned twenty minutes later, ready for the second part of the test.

"Agent Stein, please put these on." Steve handed her a small pair of earphones. "We'll communicate with you this way. We can hear everything going on in the warehouse."


Agent Stein and Gracie entered the side door, immediately inundated with the silence, the utter stillness of the area. Stein removed the collar and leash, dropping them at her feet.

Gracie's hackles rose along her back including the ridges of fur on both shoulders. She took the lead unbidden, actually imposing herself into the demanding and deadly point position.

She lowered her head and stared through the gloom into the corners of the building; small, chittering sounds started low in her throat, alerting Stein. Before them, the huge space looked like the dungeon of a medieval fairy tale.

Gracie searched the room with quick, darting glances, muzzle raised to sniff each corner. The walkways overhead and inky dark spaces behind huge pieces of equipment drew her attention. Ever vigilant, she knew her job well, and prepared for attack from all sides.

She saw him first and dropped to the ground, silent. Her adversary crept along the darkened walls, silent, turning from side to side as he checked out the area, listening to the voice inside the headphones in his helmet. He could not see the dog.

"She sees you," the voice said. "She's heading for your left flank, be careful ... she's there, she, contact."

The dog leapt from the shadows, her jaws clamped on the upper arm of her opponent. She exchanged it for a point closer to his neck, snarling all the while.

A whistle sounded and the dog broke off attack, waiting for her next command.

From a distance of less than twenty feet, a body charged the huge dog, attempting to bowl her over and hopefully deliver a fatal injury, but it was not to be. She sprang at her foe, wrapped both forelegs around his neck and knocked him down. She rolled him over twice, and when the rolling stopped, Gracie stood over another downed enemy, snarling into his masked and protected face. She snapped twice more and continued to growl until Agent Stein told her to stand down.

They went through several more scenarios, one where they attempted to capture Agent Stein, causing one of the handlers to later joke about excessive use of force on behalf of the K9 unit.

Special Agent Georgia Stein removed Gracie's collar and replaced it with a new one. Not only did it have the Border Patrol insignia, it had an embedded tracking device and a large silver tag already inscribed:

K9 Special Agent,
"Amazing Grace"
846628-DHS, Texas Rangers



Book of the Month contest entry

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Well, if you're new, this could be a stand alone, I guess, certainly enough to figure out what's going on. For those of you who know this story, I only meant to write a teensy bit about this. Then, I don't know, the dog took over. I may put this in the beginning of the book, as it has no particular reason to be toward the end. We'll send Rudy off for something else.

Hope you enjoy!

Gayle
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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