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The Pawtriots are on a larger-than-life mission down in Texas to rescue a litter of kidnapped puppies...But who can they trust on the mighty Rio Grande?
For young readers wanting action-packed adventure with a patriotic message, the Pawtriots are the perfect team!
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Location: The Sanctuary: Washington, DC, United States
Time: 1800 hours
Welcome back, soldier!
I’m glad to see you reenlisted. A lot has happened since we saved the Sanctuary, so let me debrief you. That’s Army-talk for . . . that’s right! I’m glad you remembered.
Winter is coming to an end and the Pawtriots couldn’t be happier. Morale is sky-high and we’re adding new recruits to our ranks. Dogs, cats, snakes, and birds are arriving every day and they all ask me the same thing: “How can we help?!”
There are so many new animals that we set up a boot camp, right here at the Sanctuary. It’s a nine-week program that turns civilians into soldiers. It’s like summer camp but with lots of marching and even more push-ups!
After we took down Mr. Mocoso, we knew it was our duty to help others in need—beyond the animals in the Sanctuary. So, we’ve been using pigeons and other birds to relay messages from all over the country. Calls for help have been pouring in for the past six months.
Penny is always pushing us to go out on missions and do good deeds for the community. “Our community,” as she says. But we have to prioritize. We can’t help everyone. There just isn’t enough time in the day.
I caught her sneaking out the other night to help a pigeon that had some gum stuck on his wings. It was the right thing to do, but it’s risky to go off on your own. As leader, it’s important for me to know where everyone is at all times. She can’t just sneak outside the wire whenever she wants to. That’s Army-talk for “going out on missions.”
We call the Sanctuary “the TOC” now. It sounds like tock as in ticktock, and it’s short for Tactical Operations Center. The TOC is our command post and it’s where we plan our missions. Morgan and Sawyer, the rabbit and ferret, got hurt in a training exercise the other day, so they’ve been running the TOC when the rest of us are out on missions. They’re okay now, but they need time to recover from their injuries. Still, there’s an upside to having them stay behind. It’s always good to have capable leaders stay in the rear with the gear and make sure things at home run smoothly.
We’ve even established a chain of command. Your rank is a badge of leadership and it determines your level of responsibility within your unit.
And we even wrote out our mission statement: “The Pawtriots will provide safety and security to all animals in need.”
It’s very important to establish a unit’s purpose. It helps keep everyone focused on achieving goals and completing missions. Soldiers love knowing that what they’re doing is for a good reason.
Time: 2100 hours
I had planned to lead a quick night-op perimeter check at the TOC with the Pawtriots tonight. But the wind is howling and snow is falling fast, so it might be a better idea to conduct classroom training instead. It’s not exactly everyone’s favorite thing to do, and it’s definitely not mine!
Still, I know it’s important to do this type of training. Simon, the marmoset who helped us locate the will in Mr. Mocoso’s mansion, snuck out of the zoo to join our cause. He’s been teaching everyone how to effectively communicate in silence using only hand and arm signals. It takes practice, but I’m confident everyone will learn quickly.
Brick moseys over to me, holding a clipboard with a list on it.
“Is everyone here?” I ask.
Brick scans the list. “Everyone but Penny,” he says.
I scan the room. He’s right, Penny’s not here. She must have snuck out . . . again.
I softly whistle to Franny and Smithers and signal for Simon to “come here.”
“Everything okay, Rico?” asks Franny.
“Penny snuck out,” says Brick, shaking his head from side to side.
“Again? And in this weather? Are you kidding?” asks Franny.
“Ssseriousssly ill-advisssed,” says Smithers.
I know Penny is out there trying to help other animals, but in this blizzard she may be the one who ends up needing help.
I motion to the group to “follow me” and lead Brick, Smithers, Franny, and Simon outside into the snow.
The snow is falling so fast that I can barely see, but we’re prepared. We’ve got these super high-speed goggles. High-speed—that’s Army-talk for “cool.” They’re meant to keep our eyes protected and vision clear, but with the wind whipping snow right into our faces, it’s hard to maintain a clear line of sight.
“Can anybody see her?” I ask.
“I can barely sssee anything,” says Smithers.
“Oi! And it’s freezing out here,” says Brick.
I want to let everyone go inside and get warm, but I just can’t. Don’t get me wrong; I’m freezing my tail off out here, too. But once you start taking the easy road, it’s almost impossible to ever take the hard one.
Suddenly there’s a thud, and the snow crunches behind me. I spin around to try to figure out where the sound is coming from.
“What was that?” asks Franny.
“Spread out! It could be Penny,” I say.
And suddenly, I hear a voice call out, “Help!”
It sounds like Penny, so I quickly scan from side to side, but I can’t see where she is.
Then there’s another thud. The crunching sound is much louder this time.
Through the blustery blizzard, I spot Simon waving his arms frantically as if trying to flag me down. I can see movement just beyond him, but I can’t quite make out what or who the movement is. So I wipe the snow off my goggles to get a clearer look.
“Three o’clock!” I call out so the Pawtriots know which way to look. In Army-talk that’s a directional clock position for “to the right.”
I trudge through the powdery snow toward Simon, Penny, and a mystery dog. Snow keeps getting stuck in my wheel, but I can see another dog with Penny who is covered in snow and has ice clinging to its whiskers, so I need to keep moving until I reach them.
“I found her in the alleyway. She wasn’t moving,” Penny says to me.
Instinctively, I grab the dog by the scruff of its neck and drag it toward the TOC, bringing it into safety and warmth. But I worry this pooch might already be frozen to death.
Greetings from Texas
Location: The Pawtriots TOC
Time: 2130 hours
We barge into the TOC, swinging the doors wide open, letting the cold air and snow in. The new recruits are alarmed by the commotion and huddle around us and the mystery dog, asking me lots of questions: “Who’s that?” “What’s going on, Rico?”
I help Franny and Morgan brush the cold, wet snow off the mystery dog, uncovering wavy, creamy yellow fur. She’s a golden retriever. Her eyes are closed and she’s lying on the floor, but I can see her chest rising and falling.
“She’s alive!” I holler.
The new privates are hovering a little too close, so Brick stands between us and them and puffs out his chest.
“Oi! Back up!” Brick hollers, sending all the privates scampering.
The golden retriever adjusts her eyes to the bright lights.
“Sanctuary. Rico . . . Sergeant Rico,” mutters the golden...