I had this idea for a Jean Hays story but it wasn’t enough of a story for even a novelette so I’ve decided to make it a serial short story. Not every section is 1000 words or less. Some run over to 1200 but I didn’t think you all would mind too much.
I hope you enjoy it.
Mystery at the Dog Park
Part 1 of 7
Jean pulled the leash around her body as the lab-pitbull mix lunged forward.
“She’s giving you a run today.” Karen laughed
“It’s not funny.” Jean puffed. The dog was wearing her out. “Can’t wait to get to the dog park and let her run.”
“I hear ya.” Karen stopped to untangle the two Chihuahuas and the Yorkie mix she was walking.
They arrived at the park and herded the dogs through the gate. Karen took her dogs to the small dog enclosure while Jean let her dog loose in the large dog area. They stood next to each other on opposite sides of the fence to talk as the dogs played.
A woman left the group of dog owners at the picnic table provided and came over to them. She handed them a flyer with a picture of her caramel colored cockapoo, Sandy. “Have you seen my dog?”
Jean took the flyer and held it so Karen could see. “No.” She shook her head. “I’m sorry. I haven’t.”
Karen shook her head, too. “No. How long has she been gone?”
“Since yesterday.” The woman sniffed, eyes red, as she scanned the area. “I was talking with the usual people yesterday,” she waved her hand at the group around the table, “while Sandy and the other dogs played. Then, she was just gone when I looked for her.” Her voice quavered. “I don’t know how she got out of the dog park.”
“We’re walking the humane society dogs,” Jean explained. “But we’ll keep an eye out for Sandy.”
Shoulders slumped, the woman nodded. “That’s my number on the bottom. Call anytime if you find her.”
“We will,” Karen said. “Good luck.” They watched her shuffle back to the table. “How awful. I wonder what happened?”
After hearing the woman’s story, Jean looked for her dog, Arthur. She spotted him chasing a squirrel on a tree trunk around and around the tree. It looked to her that the squirrel was teasing the dog on purpose. “It’s not a big dog, probably got through a hole in the fence.”
Karen turned around to watch the dogs she brought. The Chihuahua’s were chasing each other while the Yorkie dug a hole. “Poor woman. I hope the dog doesn’t get caught by a coyote or a hawk. One of my neighbors lost her little dog when an eagle swooped in and plucked it right out of the backyard.”
Jean’s eyes went wide. “That sucks.”
Karen nodded. “Yep.”
Back at the humane society, the women turned the dogs in. It broke Jean’s heart to make Arthur get back in the kennel. They stopped in the office. “Margaret,” Jean pulled the flyer from her pocket and unfolded it. “Have you seen this dog come in?” She handed the shelter manager the paper.
Margaret looked at the picture and shook her head. “Nope. Poor little thing. I had a call from this woman this morning.” She sighed. “I told her to do the flyers. And talk to the neighbors around the park. What I didn’t tell her was that the dog may have been stolen.”
“Stolen? Who would do that?” Jean asked.
Margaret handed the flyer back to Jean. “People who then sell the dog on Craig’s list or in a newspaper ad.”
“Oh no!” Karen looked horrified.
“Yep.” Margaret went back to her desk. “Happens all the time in the bigger cities but we’ve been seeing it more and more up here. There’s a market, especially for little dogs like that one. And the bad guys just scoop up the little ones when no one is looking.”
“They don’t take big dogs?” Jean leaned on the counter.
“Oh, they do. They’ll disguise themselves as handymen or maintenance people and take dogs right out of their backyards. No one pays any attention to those guys coming or going in the neighborhood. Purebred dogs are the target, German Shepherds, Labs of any sort, those kinds of dogs.”
“That happens here?” Jean couldn’t believe that people would just go into someone’s backyard and take another person’s pet.
“Not that one, so much. That’s more in the big cities, too. Also, they disguise themselves as animal control and knock on the door. They tell the owners that a complaint of abuse has been filed and they’re taking the dog under protective custody. They show the owner some sort of legal looking document. In confusion and fear, they hand the dog over planning to go to court and get it straightened out but it’s too late. The dog and the thieves are long gone.
“I would be so ticked!” Karen said.
“Me too. Isn’t there anything that can be done?” Jean asked.
“Not usually. They don’t advertise the dog in the area where it was stolen from so you can’t even check the paper or anything to try and find it.”
Margaret nodded. “Yep. Unfortunately, little Sandy, there,” she nodded at the flyer in Jean’s hand, “wasn’t microchipped. If she had been, there would be some chance of finding her.”
Jean and Karen said their good-byes and left. “Who knew there was a market for stolen dogs?” Jean drove them both to lunch as was their habit after their turn at walking the humane society inmates.
“I had no idea. I mean, you see dogs up for sale in the paper and on the radio all the time. It never occurred to me they might be stolen.”
“Let’s grab a paper and see if there are any dogs for sale in there.”
Karen nodded. “Good idea. Though the current paper came out Friday and Sandy was stolen yesterday. Tomorrow’s paper would be a better bet.”
“You’re right. Tomorrow we’ll look. In the meantime, let’s call the radio station and see what they have on their ads.”
“Great idea. After lunch though. My tummy’s growling.”