Determination 1: During Billy's spare time from helping Papa, he goes down to the fishermen's campground and collects left-behind items. One day, he finds a sporting magazine. Inside is an advertisement for hunting hounds. They are $25 each. Although Billy has no money and his family is poor, he is determined to get himself two hunting hounds and will do whatever it takes to get them.
Determination 2: After Billy sees the advertisement in the magazine for the pups, he is determined to get them. He spends two long years working hard and earning enough money to buy the dogs. He sells things to the fishermen like crawfish, minnows, fresh vegetables, and berries. Billy will stop at nothing to buy his pups, and after the two years are up, he finally has the $50 that he needs.
Determination 3: Grandpa tells Billy that his dogs will be shipped to a nearby town called Tahlequah. He happens to know someone who is going out that way and Billy can ride with him if he wants to. Billy agrees, but later that night at home, he cannot stop thinking about his dogs. He needs to have them now, so he packs some food and leaves the house. He is so intent upon getting his dogs right away that he travels to Tahlequah on foot that night through the woods.
Determination 4: Billy trains his dogs to hunt raccoons. He spends all summer training them, running them throughout the river bottoms of the Ozarks. But when it comes time for them to jump into the water, they won't go; they are frightened of the water. Billy is determined to teach them how to swim and he eventually does. And even though it was tough, he says that his persistence had no bounds. He was willing to do whatever it took to teach Old Dan and Little Ann to swim.
Determination 5: Old Dan and Little Ann tree a coon up the biggest sycamore in the river bottoms. Billy knows it is going to be quite a task to cut the tree down, but he is determined to do it. Papa suggests going somewhere else, to another tree, but Billy insists on trying to cut this one down. He says that he will do it even if it takes him a year.
Determination 6: After two days of trying to chop down the biggest sycamore in the river bottoms to get the coon out, Billy is drained. His entire body is sore, he has blisters on his hands, and he is tired and hungry. Again, Papa suggests that Billy leave the tree, for it is just too big of a task to take on. But again, Billy does not give up. He promised his dogs that if they treed a coon, he would do the rest by chopping down the tree. He is determined to keep his promise to his dogs and he continues to chop the tree despite his pain.
Determination 7: Billy and his dogs arrive at the meeting place for the "ghost coon" hunt. The Pritchard boys are there and they tell Billy that it's no use; he might as well just give up now because his dogs won't be able to catch the "ghost coon." Billy does not give up and he does not call his dogs in. He says that he is not going to give up until his dogs give up.
Determination 8: Old Dan and Little Ann treed two coons at the championship coon hunt and they are on their third. They start to bark treed, but when everyone runs over, the coon seems to have disappeared. Grandpa, Papa, and the judge tell Billy to give up on this coon and move on to another, but Billy refuses. As long as his dogs are searching, he knows they will find the coon, and they do. Billy is determined to continue his unyielding faith and pride in his dogs and he sees no reason to stop now, just because a coon has pulled a trick.
Love 1: Billy has worked for two long years saving every penny so that he could buy the things he has wanted for a long time - two redbone hunting hounds. He finally saves enough money and walks on foot to pick his dogs up in Tahlequah. When he arrives at the depot and sees his pups for the first time, it is too much for Billy to handle. All of his hard work has finally paid off and he can hardly believe it is true. He spent so many long days dreaming about having dogs of his own and now he finally does. He does not know what to do except to cry out of utter happiness.
Love 2: On their way home from Tahlequah, Billy and his dogs have to sleep in a cave. The sound of a mountain lion frightens Billy and his dogs. He builds a fire to keep the lion away. Billy feels very defensive and is willing to do anything to protect the pups he has worked so hard to get. He even says he is willing to die for them.
Love 3: Billy has spent the entire summer training his dogs for the upcoming hunting season. He has gotten to know their every move and they have gotten to know Billy's every move as well. They follow Billy around everywhere he goes. Billy and his dogs have a very special connection. They understand each other even though they speak completely different languages. Billy understands them just by their eyes or their wagging tails and they understand Billy. It is a unique and special bond.
Love 4: During one of the dogs' hunts, they chase a coon up the biggest sycamore tree in the entire river bottom. Billy doesn't think he can chop it down, but he tries anyway. It takes him two days of backbreaking work to cut the tree down, but he doesn't give up because of the promise he made to his dogs. He promised them that if they treed a coon, then he would do the rest and chop it down. He will not go back on his word to his dogs. He cares about their relationship and his promise too much to go back on his word.
Love 5: Sometimes Billy hangs out at Grandpa's store. When the other hunters are there, Billy and the hunters exchange tales about their hunting adventures. Every now and then the hunters make fun of Old Dan and Little Ann. They say that Billy's dogs are small and that Little Ann isn't half as smart as Billy says she is. Hearing negative remarks about his dogs greatly offends Billy. He says that it makes his blood boil. His anger is a direct result of how much love he feels for his dogs. He worked too hard and cares too much about his dogs to not let someone's mean comments offend him.
Love 6: During one the dogs' hunts, Little Ann falls into the frozen river. Billy sees she is in desperate trouble. He takes off his clothes, wades into the frozen water, and hooks her collar with his lantern wire. He pulls her out and is thankful that she is ok. Billy loves his dog too much to just let her die in the water. He goes so far as to risk his own life to save the life of his dog.
Love 7: Billy leaves Grandpa's store after Grandpa has just told him about the championship coon hunt that Billy is going to participate in with his dogs. Billy is on top of the world. He thinks back to all the wonderful things that have happened to him over the past two years of his life and he is so thankful for all of them. He thinks about getting his dogs, how lucky he is to have his Mama, Papa, and three sisters, how lucky he is to have Grandpa, and now to be entered in a championship coon hunt. It is all too much for him to take and he says that his heart is bursting with happiness.
Love 8: The dogs begin their first night of hunting during the championship coon hunt. They catch two coons and are soon barking treed for a third coon. However, when they get to the tree, they see that there is no coon. The coon seems to have pulled a trick on the dogs. Papa, Grandpa, and the judge tell Billy to give up and move on to another area to hunt, but Billy refuses. The love and faith he has in his dogs make him confidant that they will catch the coon. Billy stands by his dogs and they eventually catch the coon.
Love 9: During the final night of hunting at the championship coon hunt, a bad storm approaches. Old Dan and Little Ann get lost in the storm. Papa, Grandpa, and the judge want to leave and find their way back to the buggy, but Billy refuses. He would never leave his dogs out in a storm by themselves. He loves them too much to just leave them out in the cold. He says that if he has to look for his dogs by himself, then he will do just that, but he will not leave them.
Love 10: Old Dan and Little Ann stay by the tree all night, so the coon won't escape. Even though they got covered in ice from head to toe from the ice storm, they did not give up. Somehow they knew that Billy needed one more coon to win the championship hunt. Everyone is impressed with Billy's dogs. Mr. Kyle says that people have been trying to understand dogs for years. He says the only way to explain Old Dan and Little Ann's behavior is love, for dogs have a special kind of love for their masters - the deepest kind.
Maturity 1: Billy is walking home from work one afternoon when he comes across a dog fight. He helps one of the dogs and takes him home. That night, Billy feeds the dog and gives him a warm place to sleep. It reminds him of the two hunting hounds he used to have when he was a boy and this makes him feel good. The next morning, Billy thinks about keeping the dog. Despite the fact that it would be nice to have the dog around, Billy sets him loose because he knows that it is not right to pen up a hunting hound. He does the right thing and acts for the good of the dog.
Maturity 2: Billy is finally in Tahlequah, the town where he is to pick up his brand new pups. Upon arriving in the town, he starts to feel guilty about leaving his house without telling anyone where he was going. He sees a store and decides to buy gifts for his family. He buys new overalls for Papa, cloth for Mama, and candy for his sisters. Billy is mature in that he is able to realize when he has done wrong. And even though he did something wrong, he feels badly about it and has the heart to want to try and make it better.
Maturity 3: Billy and his pups head home after their trip to Tahlequah. Billy knows he shouldn't have the left house without telling Mama and Papa where he was going. He wonders what he will tell them when he finally arrives home. After much thought, he decides that he will tell them the truth. He is mature and does the right thing.
Maturity 4: During one of the dogs' hunts, they chase a coon up the biggest sycamore tree in the entire river bottom. Billy doesn't think he can chop it down, but he tries anyway. It takes him two days of backbreaking work to cut the tree down, but he doesn't give up because of the promise he made to his dogs. He promised them that if they treed a coon, then he would do the rest and chop it down. He will not go back on his word to his dogs. He cares about their relationship and his promise too much to go back on his word. He is mature enough to recognize the importance of keeping one's word.
Maturity 5: The dogs chase a coon up the biggest sycamore in the river bottom. Billy tries to cut the tree down for days. He back is sore, he has blisters on his hands, and he is tired and hungry. However, as much as he wants to quit he won't give up for two reasons. One, he promised Old Dan and Little Ann that he would cut the tree down if they treed a coon. Two, he knows that if he quit now, the tree would die from all the chopping already done. To have killed the tree for nothing is not something Billy thinks is right.
Maturity 6: Sometimes Billy hangs out at Grandpa's store. When the other hunters are there, Billy and the hunters exchange tales about their hunting adventures. Every now and then the hunters make fun of Old Dan and Little Ann. They say that Billy's dogs are small and that Little Ann isn't half as smart as Billy says she is. Hearing negative remarks about his dogs greatly offends Billy. He says that it makes his blood boil. However, Billy is mature enough to not fight back. He says that he always took their kidding with a smile on his face.
Maturity 7: Rubin and Rainie Pritchard make a bet with Billy that his dogs cannot tree the "ghost coon." Billy agrees to the bet and Old Dan and Little Ann end up treeing the coon. When it comes time for Billy to climb the tree and kill the coon, he stops and doesn't go through with it. Rubin and Rainie think he is crazy and they want the coon dead, but Billy sees something in the old coon. He feels badly for the coon. The coon is old and has been around for quite a while, unable to be caught by any hunter, and Billy sees this as special. He is more mature than Rubin and Rainie who just want the old coon dead. Billy stands up for the coon, even though he faces embarrassment and ridicule from the Pritchard boys.
Maturity 8: After Rubin dies, Billy walks to his grave and leaves flowers on the grave. Despite the fact that Rubin tormented Billy and made fun of his dogs, Billy still feels awful about Rubin's death and how it must have affected Rubin's family. Billy sets aside all his bad feelings about the Pritchards and leaves the flowers for Rubin. When Rubin's mother sees this, she cries. Billy knows that he did the right thing.
Maturity 9: The championship coon hunt is over and Billy is awarded the gold cup and the three hundred dollars in prize money. He is speechless. It is more money than he has ever seen. He hands the money over to Papa. Billy has continually acted out of the greater good for his family and this is just another instance. Instead of keeping the money for himself, he gives it to his father because he knows that his family needs the money. Billy is selfless and it is the ultimate act of charity and maturity