The Dog-Gone Mysteryby Gertrude Chandler Warner
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When a dog training school opens in Greenfield, the Boxcar Children bring Watch in to learn some new tricks! But at the very first class, a Dalmatian goes missing—did the dog run away, or was he stolen? And when a second dog vanishes at the next class, it’s clear that the Aldens have a dog-gone mystery to solve!
Read an Excerpt
The Dog-Gone Mystery
By GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER, Robert Papp
ALBERT WHITMAN & CompanyCopyright © 2009 Albert Whitman & Company
All rights reserved.
Watch Goes to School
"Look!" said Benny. "There's somebody we don't know at our mailbox." Benny was six years old and loved mysteries, even little ones.
Watch, the Alden children's dog, barked loudly. Then he raced down the lawn to the mailbox.
"Watch! Come back here!" shouted twelve-year-old Jessie. But even though Watch listened to Jessie best of all, he didn't listen now.
"It's a woman," said Violet, who was ten years old and the shyest of the four children. "She's wearing a purple shirt and she's putting something into our mailbox." Violet loved all shades of purple.
"Let's hurry," said Henry. "She might be afraid of Watch, even though he's just being friendly." At fourteen, Henry was the oldest. He felt responsible for his younger brothers and sisters.
The Aldens hurried down the long path that led to their mailbox, but when they finally got there, they were very surprised. Instead of barking and racing around in circles, Watch was sitting.
"Good dog," said the young woman at the mailbox. She had very bright red hair. "Up," she said, and Watch stood, his tongue hanging out. "Good dog," she said again.
"Wow!" said Benny. "Watch is doing whatever you tell him to do."
"Does he do what you ask him to do?" the young woman asked.
"Sometimes," said Jessie, "and sometimes not. I'm Jessie Alden," she said. Then she introduced Henry, Violet, and Benny.
"I'm happy to meet you," said the young woman. "I'm Roxanne Sager. Just call me Roxanne."
"What were you doing at our mailbox?" asked Benny. "You aren't a mailman."
"No," laughed Roxanne, "I'm not." Then she gave each of the Aldens a bright yellow flyer.
Benny could read the headline, which said Dog Gone Good.
"It's about a new dog training school," said Violet as she read.
"Right here in Greenfield?" Henry asked.
"That's right," said Roxanne. "I've decided to start my own business, a dog training school. I named it Dog Gone Good, because I want to help everybody have a dog-gone-good dog."
"You must love dogs," said Jessie.
"I do," said Roxanne. "And dogs seem to like me—don't you, Watch?"
Watch barked happily and wagged his tail.
"Maybe you'll decide to bring Watch to dog training class," said Roxanne. "The first one starts this afternoon." She looked at the children. "All four of you can come with Watch. That way you can all learn how to ask your dog to behave. And now," she said, "I have a lot more flyers to give out." Roxanne waved goodbye to the Aldens and walked down the road to another mailbox.
The children watched her go.
"I love Roxanne's hair," said Benny. "It's so red!"
"And her shirt is so purple!" said Violet.
Jessie asked, "Did you see how Watch did everything Roxanne asked him to do?" Jessie looked down at their dog, who looked back up at her.
Henry opened the mailbox and took out the mail. The Aldens walked back up the path to the big house where they lived with their grandfather. After their parents had died, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny had run away because they didn't want to stay with their grandfather. They had never met him and thought he was mean. So they hid in the woods and lived in an old boxcar. They found Watch in the woods, too. But their grandfather found them, and it turned out he wasn't mean at all. He brought them to his house to live. He even had the old boxcar moved to his backyard. The children used it as a clubhouse.
"What do you think?" Henry asked. "Should we take Watch to training class?"
"I don't know," said Jessie. "He listens to us most of the time."
Violet was still reading the yellow flyer. "This says that you can help your dog be safe by training it," she said. "It says a well-trained dog won't run out into traffic."
"Or jump on people," said Henry as he read over Violet's shoulder.
Benny was kneeling down, playing with Watch. "If we take Watch to dog school," said Benny, "we'll get training, too."
"Yes," laughed Henry. "So maybe we should all get some dog training."
Jessie looked at Watch, who wagged his tail. Watch belonged to all four of the Alden children, but he was a bit more Jessie's dog than anybody else's. Jessie thought Watch was perfect the way he was. But maybe a refresher course would make him even more perfect—if that was possible. "Okay," she admitted. "Maybe Watch could use a tiny reminder."
Watch jumped up and down and barked.
Later that afternoon the four children rode their bikes to Dog Gone Good. Watch came with them, of course.
The outside of Dog Gone Good was newly painted in bright red. The parking lot had space for a dozen cars.
"This is a very yellow bike rack," said Benny as they parked their bikes.
"And it's shaped like a dog," said Henry as he inspected the wire rack. "Do you know what kind?" he asked his brother.
"It looks like one of those long low dogs," answered Benny.
"Those are called dachshunds," said a voice from behind them.
Benny and Henry turned to see a tall man wearing white pants, a white shirt, and a white apron. "Hello," he said. "I'm Baker Brooks." Mr. Brooks had a dog with him, and Watch rubbed noses with it.
The Aldens introduced themselves.
Violet and Benny were looking at Mr. Brooks's dog. It was a big white dog with black spots all over. "It's a Dalmatian," Violet said to Benny.
"Like the dogs that ride on fire trucks," said Benny.
The Dalmatian wagged its tail. Violet noticed that the dog's eyes were a pale blue, almost violet in color. Just then, the Dalmatian sat down and put out a paw to shake hands with her.
"Boxcar likes you," Mr. Brooks told her. "He doesn't shake paws with just anybody."
Violet put out her hand and shook the dog's paw.
"Your dog is named Boxcar?" asked Henry.
He was thinking about the boxcar he and his sisters and brother had lived in.
"Yes," said Mr. Brooks.
"Did you find him in a boxcar?" asked Benny.
"No," said Mr. Brooks. "I love trains. I go out of my way to see them. And I especially love boxcars, so that's how I named my dog." He reached down and patted Boxcar's head.
"Are you taking Boxcar to class?" asked Jessica.
"Yes, I am," said Mr. Brooks. "Boxcar needs to learn the stay command."
"We're taking Watch to class, too," said Jessie. "May I ask you a question about your name?" she asked Mr. Brooks.
Mr. Brooks laughed. "I'll bet I know what it is. I'll bet you want to know if Baker is my first name or my title."
"I hope it's not rude to ask," said Jessie.
"Not at all," said Mr. Brooks with a smile. "Almost everybody asks me that sooner or later."
The children waited eagerly to hear the answer. Mr. Brooks seemed to enjoy keeping them in suspense. "Well," he said at last, "Baker is my first name. But I always say that my mama knew I would be a baker when I grew up, and that's why she named me Baker."
Mr. Brooks reached into his white apron and pulled out a small loaf of bread—it was shaped like a bone. "This is one of the special dog breads I bake," he told the Aldens. "Dogs love it." He handed the bread to Benny.
Benny couldn't help himself, he put the bread to his nose and sniffed it. "Yum," said Benny. "It smells so good!" Benny loved food.
"It is good," chuckled Mr. Brooks. "But it's for your dog, Benny, not for you."
The other Aldens watched to see if Benny would give up the bone-shaped bread. Watch jumped up and down, then sat and begged for the bread. Finally, Benny fed it to Watch.
"Don't worry," said Mr. Brooks to Benny. "I have something for you, too."
"Bread?" asked Benny.
Mr. Brooks pulled some papers out of another pocket. He counted out four, and handed one to each of the children. "This is a coupon for a free coffee, tea, or lemonade when you buy bread at my bakery," he said. "Please visit soon."
"We will," said the Aldens. Although they teased Benny, they had all loved the smell of Mr. Brooks's bread.
"Come on, Boxcar," said Mr. Brooks. "Time for class." He and Boxcar walked into the Dog Gone Good building.
Benny was staring at his coupon. "Can we go right after Watch's class?" he asked. "I'd really like some bread."
"We can't go today because we promised to help Mrs. McGregor," Jessie reminded him. Mrs. McGregor was the Aldens' housekeeper and cook. "But we'll go as soon as we can," she promised.
As the children and Watch walked toward Dog Gone Good, a white van pulled into the parking lot. The words Clip and Yip were painted on its side in black letters. Below the words was the outline of a French poodle. Below the outline were smaller words: Dog Grooming Deluxe.
Jessie and Watch walked into the building first. Benny, Violet, and Henry followed.
"Hello!" said Roxanne when she saw them. "I'm so glad you and Watch are coming to this class."
"We're glad, too," said Henry.
The room was full of dogs and people. Jessie noticed that Mr. Brooks was handing out bread bones to the dogs and coupons to the people.
Henry noticed that one woman didn't seem to have a dog. She had come in just after the Aldens. She had curly light brown hair and wore a white apron that had many pockets. Henry wondered if maybe she was a baker, too. Just as he was wondering, the woman came up to them.
She looked at Watch. "That's a wire-haired terrier," she said. "Which of you is the owner?"
"Watch is Jessie's dog," explained Henry, "but we all think of him as our dog."
"Your dog could use some grooming," the woman said. She stuck out a coupon and waved it around.
Jessie thought the woman was a little rude. Jessie reached out to take the coupon. "I'm Jessie Alden," she said. Then she introduced her brothers and sister.
"I'm Candy Wilson," said the woman.
Benny's eyes grew bigger. "Do you own a candy store?" he asked.
Candy Wilson frowned. "I own Clip and Yip, the best dog grooming service in six towns." Then she bent down to look at Watch.
Jessie didn't like how Ms. Wilson inspected Watch, looking at him from every side as if she had to memorize him for a test. Ms. Wilson petted Watch. He seemed to enjoy it.
Ms. Wilson stood up. "Bring your dog to my store and I'll improve his looks," she said. "Plus, you get twenty percent off with that coupon."
Then she turned away and walked up to another person and waved a coupon.
When it was time for the class to begin, Roxanne introduced all the owners and their dogs.
"We have six dogs in this class," she said. "And we have eight owners." She introduced Mr. Brooks and Boxcar, and after that she introduced Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny. And Watch, of course.
"That dog has four owners!" a man pointed out.
His name was Victor Smith, and his bulldog was named Wrinkles.
Benny thought that was a good name for a bulldog. "Wrinkles has a lot of wrinkles!" he said to Jessie.
Roxanne introduced the next dog owner, who had two little dogs that looked exactly alike. One dog wore a red collar and leash, the other wore a blue collar and leash. Both dogs were barking. "Everybody say hello to Mrs. Garrett and her twin Pekinese, Double and Trouble," said Roxanne.
The Aldens and everybody else said hello, but Mrs. Garrett was too busy to say hello back. She was trying to untangle herself from the red and blue leashes as Double and Trouble raced around and around her.
Roxanne frowned. "By the end of this class, Double and Trouble will not be doing that," she promised.
Jessie thought Roxanne didn't sound too sure about her promise.
Roxanne continued. "Our last dog owner is Mrs. Servus," she said. "She owns a beautiful malamute named Grayson."
"Grayson Majesty," corrected Mrs. Servus, who was standing next to the Aldens. Her dog sat beside her. It was a big dog, mostly gray and white. It looked a bit like a wolf.
"What a beautiful dog," said Violet.
Mrs. Servus overheard her. "Yes," she said, "Grayson Majesty is beautiful."
"He has such blue eyes," said Violet.
"He does not!" said Mrs. Servus. She jerked on the dog's leash and the two of them walked away, to the other end of the room.
Violet was embarrassed. "Did I say something wrong?" she asked Jessie.
Jessie shook her head. "No," she answered. "I don't know why Mrs. Servus got upset."
Roxanne clapped her hands. "Okay, owners! Okay, dogs! Time for class to begin!"
Everyone lined up in rows with their dogs, except for Candy Wilson, who didn't have a dog. She waved to the class. "Goodbye, everybody!" she shouted. "I have grooming appointments all day today and tomorrow, but I can always make room for your dogs. Be sure to visit Clip and Yip!"
Ms. Wilson reached into the pocket of her apron and pulled out two shiny tools. She waved them over her head in a circle, then left. Henry thought one of the tools must be a clipper, and the other a pair of special scissors.
For the next half hour Roxanne taught some basic commands, such as sit and come. Then she worked with each dog and each owner, one at a time.
As class came to an end, Roxanne taught the stay command. Each owner told his dog to stay. Henry said "stay" to Watch, and Watch sat still. Henry looked over at Mr. Brooks and Boxcar. The Dalmatian seemed to be staying put.
Nearly all the dogs seemed to obey, except for Double and Trouble, who kept yipping and running in circles. Roxanne went up to each Pekinese and pushed its rear end down to the floor. "Stay!" she commanded. The two Pekinese sat down and stopped yapping.
"Roxanne is very good," Jessie said softly.
Henry nodded. He thought Roxanne was doing a great job with so many different dogs and owners.
"Now," said Roxanne to the dog owners. "I want each of you to tie your dog's leash to a post. After you do that, we will all quietly leave this room. We'll walk into the next room and close the door. We'll stay there for five minutes. And when we come out, our dogs should still be sitting and waiting for us."
"What?" said Mr. Smith. "I don't think Wrinkles is ready to be left alone yet."
"Five minutes is a long time," said Mr. Brooks as he looked at Boxcar. "Can we make it two minutes instead?"
Roxanne shook her head. "Don't worry," she said. "Your dogs are better than you think they are." She frowned at the Pekinese as she said this.
Everybody did as they were told. The dogs stayed put as the owners walked away.
In the next room Roxanne closed the door. She talked to everyone about why it was important to have a well-trained dog. "A well-trained dog is a happy dog," she said. "It will feel comfortable around you and around people you meet."
"Can we go out now?" asked Mr. Smith.
"Just a minute," said Roxanne. "I need to check on something."
She walked out of the room.
A few moments later, Roxanne was back. She looked at her watch and said, "Five minutes are up."
When the owners stepped out into the training room, the door to the outside was open. There was an empty space where Boxcar had been sitting.
Everybody stopped and stared at the empty space.
"Where's Boxcar?" asked Benny.CHAPTER 2
Searching for Boxcar
Mr. Brooks ran outside and began shouting for his dog. "Boxcar! Boxcar! Where are you?"
Roxanne looked very worried. "Oh, no," she kept saying. "Oh, no."
Jessie patted Watch on the head. "Good dog," she said.
"Poor Mr. Brooks," said Violet. "It looks like Boxcar really won't stay."
"Did Boxcar run away?" Benny asked.
"It looks that way," said Jessie.
Henry looked at the place where Boxcar had been tied. Henry didn't understand how Boxcar could have gotten himself and his leash off the post. But maybe he could—dogs were smart.
The other owners were petting their dogs and praising them for staying. Even Double and Trouble had done well.
"We should help Mr. Brooks look for Boxcar," said Violet.
The other Aldens agreed. The children and Watch went outdoors. Mr. Brooks was walking up and down the parking lot, calling out his dog's name. The children helped him look. They checked in the nearby park and on three side streets, but there was no sign of the Dalmatian dog anywhere.
When the children returned to the parking lot, Roxanne led everybody back into the Dog Gone Good building. She explained to the class that Boxcar had run away. "I have to teach another dog training class," she said. "But if you have time to help Mr. Brooks, please do."
"We have time," said the Aldens.
Mr. Smith and Mrs. Servus also helped search, but there was no sign of Boxcar. After a while Mr. Brooks said he would go back to his bakery to see if Boxcar went there.
The children looked for another hour, but Boxcar seemed to have vanished.
As they walked to the Bread Loaf Bakery Benny asked, "Do you think Boxcar went back to the bakery?"
"I hope so," said Violet. "I hate to think of a dog lost and all alone."
"If I were a dog, I'd go home to the bakery every day," said Benny.
But when the children entered the bakery, they could tell by the look on Mr. Brooks's face that his dog had not returned.
"Thank you for helping," said Mr. Brooks. He gave them a loaf of bread. "Oh, no," said Jessie, "you don't have to do that. We're always glad to help."
"Please take it," said Mr. Brooks. "I want to show my thanks."
Jessie took the bread and thanked him for it.
"We can keep on helping you," said Henry. "If you have a picture of Boxcar, I can scan it into our computer. Then I can make flyers with Boxcar's picture."
"Really?" asked Mr. Brooks. "You'd do that?"
"Yes," said Jessie. "We love to help. Tomorrow morning we can come back, and if Boxcar isn't home yet, we can take flyers into all the stores around here."
Excerpted from The Dog-Gone Mystery by GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER, Robert Papp. Copyright © 2009 Albert Whitman & Company. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Gertrude Chandler Warner (1890–1979) was an American author of children’s books, most notably the nineteen original titles in the Boxcar Children Mysteries series. Warner was raised in Putnam, Connecticut, across the street from a railroad station, which later inspired her to write about children living in a boxcar. In 1918, she began what would become a thirty-two-year career teaching first and third grade at the Israel Putnam School. She died in Putnam on August 30, 1979, when she was eighty-nine years old. But the Boxcar Children live on: To this day, talented authors contribute new stories to the series, which now includes over one hundred twenty books.
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