When Dawn gets a last-minute weekend job at the Mancusis' place, she's...not exactly thrilled. Unlike Kristy and Mary Anne, Dawn doesn't exactly LOVE animals, and she doesn't quite get why people feel the need to talk to their pets and treat them like little people. She ends up enjoying her time at the "zoo" more than she thought, in spite of the creepy car that was following her when she walked the dogs. Then, Sunday happens. Dawn's feeding and caring for the other animals when she notices that Cheryl (the Great Dane) needs to go outside rather badly. Dawn takes the dog and clips her to the secure lead that the Mancusis keep in the front yard. She finishes up all the inside animal chores, and then gets the other two dogs ready for their walk. When she heads out to the yard...NO CHERYL. She's just gone. The chain isn't broken, so Dawn figures that someone let her off of it as a prank. She and the other members of the BSC (plus some sitting charges) look for Cheryl for the entire morning, with no luck. Dawn feels horrible, even though the Mancusis are nice about the whole thing when they get home and hear the news.
Not long after Cheryl's disappearance, the BSC is getting ready for another meeting. There's one big problem, though: Kristy's not there. When 5:30 comes and goes without any sign of Madame President, the club is all set to tease her for being late when she finally DOES show up. As soon as Kristy makes it to Claudia's, though, the rest of the club sees that she's obviously upset about something. Shannon (dog, not human) has gone missing in exactly the same way that Cheryl did: David Michael had clipped her to her lead in the yard, gone inside for a toy, and come back out to find her gone. The club decides to make "lost dog" fliers for both Shannon and Cheryl, in the hope that someone will know where they are.
That evening, Dawn is relaxing with the paper when she comes across a very interesting article. There's been a rash of missing dog cases in Stoneybrook as well as some other nearby towns, and the police think a professional dog theft ring might be at work. That's when Dawn remembers the spooky car that followed her when she was out with the Mancusis' dogs. Could the thieves have been driving? The club decides to look for the car and try and get a license number, but their first day of searching isn't successful. On day # 2, Kristy and Dawn hit the jackpot. They take the license number down the police station, but (big surprise) the officer on duty doesn't take Dawn all that seriously. She forces the plate number on him anyway, and when she hasn't heard from the police by the next evening, Dawn figures that someone in her family just missed the call. Dawn, Mary Anne, and Kristy go back to the police station the next day to ask about the license number in person, but as it turns out, the car belongs to Karl Tate. He's one of the richest businessmen in town, so the girls don't think that it's likely that he has anything to do with the dog thefts.
On the way home, Mary Anne wants to stop at this new pet store to get something for Tigger. While they're at the store, they notice Karl Tate in the back office, arguing with the store's owners. Dawn is sure then that Tate is responsible, but doesn't know how to prove it. So, the BSC decides to put him under surveillance. Just like before, day #1 doesn't yield any results, but day #2 does. Dawn, Kristy, and Mary Anne go back to the pet store, because Dawn wants to get a better idea of how they operate. She's done her research on dogs, and once she gets a good look at what the store DOES have in terms of breeds, she asks the owner for one they DON'T have in stock (a Saint Bernard, if you're curious). The salesperson, instead of reccommending a breeder or offering information about when they might be expected to have a Saint Bernard for sale, tells Dawn that they could probably get one for her if she could pay. The picture is starting to get just a little clearer to our intrepid detectives...
Meanwhile, Kristy and Bart have chosen some players for each of their respective teams to make a combined, all-star team called the Krashers. The Krashers are playing a team from New Hope, and Dawn decides to take a break from thinking about the dog thefts and just enjoy the game. That's all well and good, but then Dawn sees a woman (who is most definitely NOT Mrs. Mancusi) jog by with Cheryl. She sends Mary Anne off to tail her and stall her if possible while she calls the police. When the police show up, they question the woman. Her timeline for getting Cheryl definitely matches up with when she went missing form the Mancusis' yard, and she's more than happy to give her back. After the game, Mr. Pike takes Dawn and Mary Anne to the police station to check on the status of the case. As it turns out, Karl Tate WAS responsible for the thefts; he'd been losing a lot of money in real estate, so he came up with a bunch on money-making schemes. The pet store was his first "bite." They've tracked down most of the stolen dogs, including Shannon. Lots of happy reunions. :)
Thoughts and Things
- I love dogs, but I've never been particulary fascinated by this book.
- Kristy didn't give Dawn one single bit of trouble about taking a pet-sitting job...
- I totally talk to pets....but I wouldn't force it on anyone else, like Mary Anne does with Tigger.
- This is probably the last time in any of the mysteries that the police are justifiably skeptical about the crime-solving capabilities of a bunch of 13 and 11 year old girls.
- The Krashers win their game, in case you were curious. :)