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The Alden children suspect someone of trying to sabotage the local dog show.
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The Alden children suspect someone of trying to sabotage the local dog show.
A Dog Show in Greenfield
"Faster!" shouted six-year-old Benny Alden. "I'll race you to the bottom of the hill!" He leaned over and started pedaling his bicycle as fast as his short legs could go down the long hill at the end of Wildwood Road.
"Hey," said Jessie, Benny's older sister, who was twelve. "You have a head start." She pedaled after Benny. A moment later Benny's older brother, fourteen-year-old Henry, and his other sister, Violet, who was ten, were racing after Benny, too.
"It's a tie, it's a tie!" shouted Jessie as the four Alden children coasted to a stop at the bottom of the hill.
"No, it's not," said Benny.
"What do you mean, Benny?" asked Violet. "We all got to the bottom of the hill at exactly the same time."
Benny shook his head and pointed. "You forgot Watch. He got here before all of us!"
The four Alden children all looked at the happy, panting dog. He had come to live with them when they first became orphans and were living in an old abandoned boxcar in the woods. They'd been on their own, trying to take care of themselves. When a dog had limped into their lives with a thorn in his paw, it had seemed only right to take care of him, too. So Jessie had taken the thorn out and Benny had named the brave little dog Watch. He had been a good friend and watchdog, too, ever since.
Now the Boxcar Children no longer had to live in the boxcar in the woods. They hadn't known it then, but they had a grandfather who had been searching and searching for them. He'd found them at last and brought them all to live in his big, wonderful old house in Greenfield. And he had even had their boxcar moved to the backyard behind the house, so they could visit it whenever they wanted.
"Arf!" said Watch.
"Look at Watch." Henry laughed. "He knows he won!"
Watch ran around them in a big circle, wagging his tail so hard it looked like he was about to fall over.
"Okay, Watch," said Jessie, laughing too. She threw up her hands. "I give up. You're right, Benny. Watch is the winner!"
"Good boy, Watch," said Benny. "Hooray for you!"
"Arra-arrf!" answered Watch, making them all laugh harder.
At last Henry took a deep breath and managed to stop laughing. "Hey, we'd better be getting back home! It's almost dinnertime."
The four Alden children and Watch turned toward home. They'd been at the Greenfield Park all afternoon. It had been a wonderful day.
They were almost home when Jessie suddenly put her brakes on and coasted to a stop.
The others stopped, too.
"What is it, Jessie?" asked Violet.
"Look. There's Dr. Scott's office. Isn't it time for Watch to have his annual shots for rabies and distemper and everything?"
"You're right," said Henry. "Let's go in and make an appointment right now."
They walked their bikes over to the side of the veterinarian's office building and parked them. But when they got to the front door, Benny said, "I'm not going in."
"Oh, Benny," said Violet. "Why not? You like Dr. Scott."
It was true. Benny did like Dr. Scott. They all did, ever since they'd helped out at the Greenfield Animal Shelter, where Dr. Scott sometimes worked.
"Yes, I like Dr. Scott," agreed Benny. "But Watch doesn't like to go to the veterinarian's office. He doesn't like to get shots! So I'll stay out here with Watch."
Henry smiled. "You're right Benny," he said. "I don't think anybody likes to get shots, even though they are for your own good. You can wait here with Watch and we'll be right back."
Henry, Jessie, and Violet went inside. Benny sat down on the steps next to Watch and put his arm around the dog.
"Don't worry," said Benny. "I'll go in with you when you have to get your shots."
Watch wagged his tail and put his paw on Benny's arm.
Inside the veterinarian's office, the receptionist looked at the three Alden children over the top of his glasses and smiled. "Hello," he said. "What can I do for you?"
"We'd like to make an appointment with Dr. Scott for our dog, Watch," explained Jessie.
"I'm sorry. Dr. Scott is away on vacation. Another veterinarian is handling her patients if there's an emergency," the receptionist told them.
"No, it isn't an emergency," said Henry. "Could we make an appointment now to see Dr. Scott when she gets back? Our dog Watch needs his annual shots."
"Certainly," said the receptionist. He ran his finger down the page of the appointment book. "I have an appointment right after lunch the first day Dr. Scott's back in the office."
"Great," said Henry.
"Please make it in the name of Watch Alden," Violet said.
With a smile, the receptionist wrote Watch Alden down in the appointment book, then wrote the time and date on a card and gave it to the Aldens.
After thanking the receptionist, Henry, Jessie, and Violet went outside to join Benny and Watch. They rode quickly home to join Grandfather Alden for dinner.
As always, Mrs. McGregor, the Aldens' housekeeper, had made a wonderful dinner. And as always, Benny had seconds of everything and still had plenty of room for dessert.
"Ummm," said Benny, starting to eat the warm apple pie with ice cream that Mrs. McGregor had made for them.
Henry shook his head. "You have a big appetite, Benny."
"I'm still a growing boy," said Benny. "That's what Grandfather says, isn't it, Grandfather?"
Grandfather Alden chuckled. "It certainly is," he told his youngest grandchild. Then he reached in his pocket and pulled out a letter. "Before I start my dessert, I want to share some good news with you all."
"What is it, Grandfather?" asked Violet.
"This is a letter from my old friend Mrs. Annabel Teague. She and her daughter will be in town next week for the first annual Greenfield Dog Show at the Greenfield Center."
"Neat," said Jessie. Then she smiled. "I can solve the mystery of why she's coming, too!"
Grandfather's eyes twinkled. He knew his grandchildren loved mysteries and that they were very good at solving them, too. "What is the answer, Jessie?" he asked.
"She's going to be in the dog show," guessed Jessie.
His eyes still twinkling, Grandfather said, "Well, not exactly. She's not going to be in the dog show — but her golden retriever, Sunny, is!"
"Oh, Grandfather," laughed Jessie, and the others joined in, enjoying his little joke.
Then Violet asked, "What are the Teagues like, Grandfather?"
"Well, Mrs. Teague is a kind, generous person. I haven't seen her daughter, Caryn, since she was a little girl, but I remember she was a smart, active child. She's sixteen now, and it's no surprise to me that she's the one who will actually be showing Sunny in the dog show."
"How exciting," exclaimed Jessie.
"Yes it is," said Grandfather. "Caryn has had plenty of practice, it seems. Sunny has won lots and lots of prizes with Caryn showing her."
"Oh, may we go to the dog show?" asked Benny. "Please Grandfather? And see Sunny?"
"Of course, Benny. We'll all go." Grandfather paused and looked solemnly around the table. "But ... how would you like for the Teagues and Sunny to stay with us while they're here for the show?"
"That would be great!" exclaimed Benny.
"Yes," said Jessie.
Henry and Violet agreed, too.
"Good," said Grandfather. "I'll get in touch with Annabel right away to make arrangements."
"Maybe we can help Caryn get Sunny ready for the show. We can help give Sunny a bath and brush her and take her for walks," said Violet.
"I wonder what else you have to do to get ready for a dog show," said Jessie thoughtfully. "I bet we'll learn a lot. I can hardly wait!"
"Can we enter Watch in the show?" asked Benny. "He could win lots and lots of prizes, too!"
Grandfather hid a smile. "I don't think so, Benny. You have to be a certain kind of dog."
"Watch is very brave and smart," said Benny.
"But he's not a particular breed of dog," said Henry. "I think only special breeds of dogs can be in a dog show."
"Yes," said Grandfather. "For this dog show, your dog must be registered with the American Kennel Club. The dog's mother and father have to be registered too."
"Oh," said Benny. He looked at Watch, who was sitting by the dining room door. "Well, that's okay, Watch. You don't mind, do you?"
Watch tilted his head. "Arrf," he said, and they all laughed.CHAPTER 2
Watch Makes a Friend
"Benny! Benny, where are you?" Jessie was trying to find her brother.
She looked into Violet's room. "Have you seen Benny?"
"No." Violet shook her head. "Did you ask Henry?"
"Not yet." Jessie started down the hall to Henry's room just as he came out. "Henry, have you see Benny? It's almost time for the Teagues and Sunny to get here."
"I'm ready," said Henry. "But I haven't seen Benny. Have you looked in his room?"
Jessie nodded. "Yes, but he's not there."
"Maybe he's downstairs with Mrs. McGregor. It sure smells like something great is cooking," Henry said.
"That's a good idea. Thanks." Jessie went downstairs to the kitchen.
But Benny wasn't there.
"Mmm, it smells good, Mrs. McGregor," Jessie said, taking a deep breath.
Mrs. McGregor smiled, "That it does. There's nothing that smells as good as fresh-baked bread. Or that tastes as good, either."
"I can hardly wait," said Jessie. "It smells so good, I was sure Benny would be in here."
"No, he's not. But I have an idea if you check out back by your boxcar, you might find him," suggested Mrs. McGregor.
"Thank you," Jessie said, and hurried out the back door.
Sure enough, Benny was in front of the boxcar. He had filled an old tin washtub full of soapy water, and he and Watch were covered in water and suds.
"Benny! What are you doing?" Jessie called.
"Giving Watch a bath so when he meets Sunny, he'll be nice and clean," gasped Benny, trying to hold on to the squirming dog. Watch thought having a bath was great fun. He was splashing in the water and wriggling all around.
"Oops," said Benny, waving his arms and trying to keep his balance as Watch bumped into his legs. He tripped and fell into the washtub with Watch.
Jessie started to laugh as soap and water flew everywhere. Benny stuck his head out of the water and wiped his face. He grinned. "I guess I'll be clean, too," he said.
"I guess you will. Here, let me help you," said Jessie. She gave Benny a hand out of the washtub. Then the two of them caught Watch and soaped him all over and rinsed him gently with the hose.
"I remembered to bring a towel," said Benny proudly. He went over to the boxcar and picked up the towel he had left on the tree stump that was the boxcar's front step. Together Benny and Jessie dried off Watch.
"Watch is beautiful," declared Benny.
"He does look good," agreed Jessie. "Now, we must hurry and get ready. The Teagues and Sunny will be here any minute!"
Jessie and Benny rushed back to the house to change into clean, dry clothes. As Benny went up the back stairs into the kitchen, he looked over his shoulder.
"Don't you want to come in, Watch?" he asked.
Watch stayed where he was at the foot of the back steps.
"Okay, you can stay outside," said Benny. "But be good, now. And don't get dirty!"
The front doorbell rang just as Benny and Jessie finished getting ready. They raced down the stairs as Grandfather Alden opened the front door. Henry and Violet were there already.
In the doorway was a small woman with blue eyes and red-gold hair twisted back into a soft bun. She was wearing khaki slacks, a plaid shirt, and a blue cardigan sweater. She stepped briskly over the threshold and gave their grandfather a big hug. "James Henry Alden," she said. "It has been a long, long time."
"Much too long, Annabel Teague," agreed Grandfather Alden, smiling.
In a moment, two more figures appeared in the doorway.
"This is my daughter, Caryn," said Mrs. Teague. "And of course, Sunny."
A tall graceful girl, who looked about sixteen, followed Mrs. Teague into the house. She had hair the same red-gold color as her mother's, but her eyes were brown instead of blue, and she wore her hair pulled back in a single braid. She was wearing khaki pants, too, and a red pullover sweater.
Caryn was holding a red leash in one hand. At the end of the leash was a large golden-red dog with silky, slightly wavy fur.
"Sit, Sunny," said the girl in a quiet, pleasant voice. The dog sat down and looked around with a friendly expression on her face.
"Wow," said Violet.
The girl held out her hand. "How do you do, Mr. Alden?"
"I'm glad to see you again, Caryn," he answered, shaking her hand. "You won't remember this, but the last time I saw you, you were just a little girl. You've grown up, I see."
"I hope so," said Caryn, laughing a little.
Grandfather Alden bent over. "And this is Sunny," he said. He stroked the top of the dog's head. "She's a beauty."
Both Caryn and Mrs. Teague looked pleased. "Champion Gold Doubloon's Morning Sun," Mrs. Teague said. "That's her registered name. Of course, we call her Sunny."
"Well, let me introduce my family," said Grandfather. "These are my grandchildren, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny."
Everyone shook hands. Then Benny held his hand out to Sunny.
"Benny, I don't think ..." Grandfather began.
But Caryn smiled. "Shake, Sunny," she said.
Sunny held up her paw and shook hands with Benny.
"You're a smart dog!" cried Benny.
"Maybe you can teach Watch how to shake hands, Sunny. Watch is our dog. His full name is Watch Alden, but we call him Watch. He's smart, too."
Benny went to the front door and opened it. "Watch," he called. "Here, Watch!"
But Watch didn't come.
"He'll be here soon," said Benny confidently, closing the door.
Grandfather said, "Meanwhile, why don't we take you to your rooms and let you settle in. Then come down for something to eat and drink. You must be hungry after your trip."
"I have a special traveling kennel for Sunny," said Caryn. "May I set that up in my room? It's big enough for her to move around in and to keep her food and water in."
"Of course," said Grandfather. "Although she's so well-behaved, you don't need to keep her in there unless you want to."
It didn't take long for the Teagues to settle in. Soon they were all sitting around the kitchen table, eating fresh baked bread with butter and honey, and drinking milk or tea. Caryn had brought Sunny back down with her. When they'd reached the kitchen, she'd pointed to the corner by the door and said, "Down Sunny." Sunny had laid down. "Good girl. Stay," said Caryn. And Sunny had stayed there ever since.
"Does she do that at the shows?" asked Henry, looking admiringly at Caryn.
Caryn shook her head. "You're talking about obedience trials," she told Henry. "They're not part of this show. This show is about how a dog looks and acts. The judges look to see if it walks correctly and has the right color coat and the right kind of ears for its breed."
Violet looked puzzled. So did Jessie and Henry. Benny was twisting around in his chair looking for Watch, so he wasn't listening as intently as everyone else.
"At a show," Caryn explained, "each dog is walked around the ring while the judge watches. Then the judge looks at each dog more closely. The dog that's closest to perfect for its breed is the winner. So on the first day, Sunny will compete just against other golden retrievers."
"Oh," said Violet, looking less puzzled. "I think I see."
Caryn smiled. "And there's more. All the breeds of dogs are divided into seven different groups — Sporting Dogs, Non-sporting Dogs, Working Dogs, Herding Dogs, Terriers, Hounds, and Toys. Golden retrievers are in the Sporting Dog group. If Sunny is the best golden retriever, on the second day she'll compete against other kinds of sporting dogs, like Labrador retrievers and Irish setters."
"What if she's picked as the best in the Sporting Dog group?" Henry asked.
"Then on the last night she'll compete against the winners of the other six groups to see who is the best dog in the whole show."
"Wow," said Jessie. "The winner must be a terrific dog!"
"I can hardly wait to see all the dogs," said Violet.
"Yes," said Henry. "We're going to come watch the show and cheer for Sunny."
Caryn smiled at their enthusiasm. "Why don't you come to the show tomorrow?" she asked. "It doesn't really start until the day after, but people will be arriving and getting their dogs used to the place. It will be fun. There'll be a lot to see and do."
"That would be great!" said Henry.
Just then there was a scratching at the kitchen door.
"Watch!" exclaimed Benny happily. He rushed to the door and opened it.
Watch bounded in and stopped. His tail went up, and he started wagging it stiffly. The fur on the ruff of his neck stood up. As plainly as if he'd said it in English, he was asking, "Who is this strange dog in my kitchen?"
Sunny raised her head.
"Okay, Sunny," said Caryn. "Be good, now."
Sunny stood up. She and Watch touched noses. Gradually the fur on Watch's neck went down. Suddenly he put his two front legs flat on the floor, while sticking his hindquarters and tail up in the air. He wagged his tail furiously.
"He's saying, 'Let's play!'" Caryn laughed.
Everyone watched, smiling, as Sunny did the same thing as Watch.
"Would you like to go outside and play, Sunny?" asked Caryn.
"May we take them out, Grandfather?" asked Violet.
Excerpted from The Mystery at the Dog Show by GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER, Charles Tang. Copyright © 1993 Albert Whitman & Company. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
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