Gustav sat up as the small grey and black dog walked into through the open gate. He looked around at the pack of dogs that flanked him on both sides.
He smiled, which considering he was a large Golden Retriever made a fairly expressive grin.
“Sam. You have some nerve coming here. Especially with out your little white bodyguard.”
“I figured she might upset you a little after the incident last month, and I wanted to talk to you peacefully.”
“Talk? Why should I talk to you? You and your little ‘pets’ mean nothing to me.” Gustav tried to put every ounce of disgust he had into pets. It was a lot.
“Maybe, but the subject matter of our conversation will interest you a great deal. “
“Really. And what could you possibly want to talk about that I would be interested enough in to prevent me from siccing Thunder after your scrawny butt?”
“I’m helping a cat try to find his friend…”
“A cat!”, if possible Gustav managed to put even more disgust into cat than he had into pets, “Why on earth would I care about helping some flea bitten little furball?!”
“Because he might be a victim of a catnapping and animal trafficking.” Gustav froze with his mouth partially open. He close his mouth, licked his lips and looked around at the others surrounding him. They were all looking back at him with a mixture of anxiety and sadness.
Finally he lowered his body to the ground, stretched his paws out in front of him and held his head up.
Watson was on his hind feet with his front paws on the side of the house trying to push his nose as close to the open window as possible.
“Whats interesting?” asked Harley, trotting over to see what Watson had discovered.
“Sniff and tell me what you smell.”
Harley put his nose to the ground and sniffed everything he could find. He circled under the window several times, occasionally looking around as if he expected to something to suddenly appear. ”Fear.”
“And why is that odd?”
He continued to sniff and began to work his way away from the house towards the yard.
“Oh, because if he was running away he wouldn’t give off fear, but would be anxious or nervous.”
“So he was stolen!”
“Slow down, all it tells us is that he didn’t runaway.
Harley sniffed again.
“There’s else some interesting here.”
He began weaving back and forth across the yard, trying to pick up the scent again. Occasionally he would look around as if expecting something to suddenly appear. Suddenly he froze and looked up at Watson.
**********“So my contacts at both the Wilmington and Tewksbury police departments confirm what Gustav said.” Zena said as she settled down into a lying position on the blanket next to Sebastian, “There have been 31 thefts in the last 3 months. No one has any idea who is doing.”
“Is there any kind of pattern?”
“Not really. They are taking all types of dogs from pure breed to mutt, cats, rabbits, hamsters and even a parrot. The only anomaly seems to be age. Older animals aren’t being taken.” “So all young animals.”
“Yep.” replied Zena. She sat on the floor and looked around at everyone. The only missing members of the group were Timothy and Maggie who were assisting Malcom with the search for Peri.
Everyone had returned home and gathered to share what information they had gathered. No one looked particularly happy.
Sam paced around in circles. He went over to the water bowl, got a drink and water, and with his beard still wet sat down and looked at Watson.
“What did you guys learn at Peri and Chester’s house?”
“There was a lot of fear scent all over the place under the window and even some up the wall. Almost like he was trying to climb back in.”
“Fear scent would be expected in a kidnapping” replied Zena, “Even up the wall. He was probably trying to get away.”
“That was my original theory, but he wasn’t kidnapped. We followed the fear scent away from the window and across the yard to a tall oak tree. He apparently climbed the tree to escape a dog.”
“Wait,” interrupted Sam, “What do you mean escape a dog?”
“There was a dog scent that overlapped the trail we followed out to the woods, but it doesn’t look like the dog was actually chasing him.”
“Wouldn’t the dog cause the fear even if he ran away?”, Sam asked.
“The dog scent seemed to weave back and forth across Peri’s. It appears the dog followed the scent to the tree, circled a few times and finally gave up.”
“Did you find any place where Peri came down?” Zena asked.
Watson waited and after a few seconds nudged Harley gently with his nose.
“Oh right! Yea!” Harley exclaimed realizing it was his turn to share information, “This was my idea! The branches in the trees are thick and look fairly sturdy. There are a lot of them close together and I think Peri, realizing there was a dog below, must have used the branches to travel without coming out of the tree.”
Tim suddenly appeared in the window out of breath, “Malcom’s patrols found Peri!”, he shouted, “He’s about 2 miles away in a little culvert. They said he looks okay but appears to be scared out of his mind. Not that I blame his with all those birds circling overhead.”
“It’s farther than I thought he would be but if he used the branches like Harley suggested it would be possible.” replied Sam as he stood up and began pacing in circles.
“Farther than you thought? You know something we don’t?” Timothy asked as he leapt down from the window and sat facing Sam.
“I think have a fairly good idea of what happened, and I believe I know how.”