Character Lesson: Honesty! Just because we find something doesn't mean it is ours to keep. We have a responsibility to try to find the rightful owner if we can. Being honest means doing the right thing.
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Finders KeepersA "Sam and Friends Book"
By Vicki Diane Westling
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Vicki Diane Westling
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Barkers, Sam, Rudie and Boots looked around their clubhouse for something to do, but they didn't feel like playing ball or chasing each other around the big tree, they were bored.
"I know," woofed Sam, "let's see what is happening down at the lake. Maybe we can chase some of the seagulls or play in the waves."
"I like the idea of digging in the sand, myself," Boots drawled, "I don't think I care too much for chasing seagulls this early. But, playing in the waves might not be so bad. What about you Rudie, are you in?" he barked to the big gray and white dog.
"I'm in," woofed Rudie.
"Let's go!" Sam barked as he took off toward the Lake.
It was just about that time that Rudie's mommy decided that today was a good day to clean up the area behind the shed and get rid of the mulch she had stored back there. As she walked behind the little building she saw what looked like a bunch of cardboard pieces all piled up in a strange way. As she got closer she saw the word "WOOF" written in big red letters on one of the pieces of cardboard.
"WOOF! Now what can that possibly mean?" she asked herself. Then as she got closer, she saw a second piece of cardboard with the words "CATS KEEP OUT" written on it, but the words "keep out" had a line drawn through them. Rudie's mommy was puzzled. She looked around and wondered where Rudie was. She decided that he was probably off with his friends since it was such a warm and beautiful day.
Sam, Boots and Rudie were on their way to the lake. Sam didn't wait to start barking at the birds, he jumped and ran after every one that he saw along the way. It was when he chased a squirrel up a tree that the dogs were distracted by something lying under a bush.
"Look," barked Rudie as he stood and sniffed the little sack, "this looks like a bag of treats."
"It is a bag of treats but it has somebody's name on it," woofed Sam sniffing at the bag and turning it over with his paw.
"Yeah, but whoever lost it has already given up on finding it. Besides, they shouldn't be so careless," mumbled Boots licking his lips and sitting patiently for the little bag to break open.
Sam picked up the bag of treats. On the side of the bag written in big bold black letters was the name "Bentley" and there was a picture of a cute black curly haired poodle.
"I think I know this dog," sneered Rudie, "he is that poodle that moved in over in the big gray house on the golf course. He looks friendly, but I'm not too sure about him." Then putting his paw against Sam's he pushed Sam's paw away and said in a slow growl, "Well, too bad for him and lucky for us." Rudie started to open the bag.
"Wait," barked Sam grabbing the little bag away from Rudie, "you can't open that bag and eat those treats, they belong to Bentley. Let's go find him and give them to him."
Boots stood up. He knew that to open the bag and eat the treats would not be right. "Now hold on Sam, and you too Rudie, I think we should go back to the clubhouse and talk about this," he barked.
"Yeah," barked Rudie, "let's go back and discuss this."
The three dogs headed toward their clubhouse, but when they arrived they saw that their clubhouse was gone. The cardboard pieces had been taken away and the mulch pile had been leveled. There was a wheelbarrow with all kinds of trash, some dirt, and wet mulch. The place they had thought was theirs was now gone.
The three friends were devastated; they almost forgot about the bag of treats. "Who could have done this?" whimpered Sam.
"Probably mommy," whined Rudie, "I heard her saying that she was going to clean up behind the shed and get rid of some of the trash. I think she thought our clubhouse was trash, too."
Rudie hung his head. He was sad, but mostly he felt that he had let his friends down. "I think I'll go inside and take a nap on my rug by the door." And then he handed the treats to Sam, "here, Sam, you take the treats to Bentley," he woofed sadly, with a little tear in his eye and a whine in his woof.
"Now, Rudie, its not your fault," Boots woofed. "Come on, we'll figure something out."
"Let's go down to the creek and decide what to do next," barked Sam. "But, someone better go get Hannibal and let him know what has happened. He needs to be a part of our decision."
"I'll go get Hannibal," Rudie moaned, "it is the least I can do."
Sam and Boots headed down to the creek, this time they weren't running. Rudie hung his head and walked away to find Hannibal.
Hannibal was busy prowling along the side of Farmer Campbell's barn. That was the best place to find fat juicy mice, and Hannibal was hungry. Sitting above him on a piece of a broken ladder was a little gray field mouse. He was nibbling away on a piece of grain unaware that Hannibal was ready to pounce.
Hannibal licked his lips and rolled his eyes, and then just as he was reaching out to grab the little unsuspecting mouse Rudie woofed! "WOOF! HANNIBAL! WOOF!" The mouse scurried away, and Hannibal was furious.
"What do you want? Do you know what you just did? I was just about to have my favorite lunch and what do you think happened? You scared him away? Dogs! Why did I ever get mixed up with you? Now, what is it?" roared Hannibal
"I came to tell you that we are having an emergency meeting down by the creek if you want to come," barked Rudie.
"Why? What is the emergency? Why aren't we meeting at our clubhouse?" meowed Hannibal as he backed away from the side of the barn and shook himself to get the thought of the fat juicy mouse out of his mind.
"We don't have a clubhouse anymore. Mommy tore it up and threw it away. Our clubhouse is gone and that is the emergency," whimpered Rudie. "Are you coming or not?"
"Yeah, yeah. I might as well, especially since my lunch has disappeared," scowled Hannibal.
The two started off toward the creek. As they neared the corner, Rudie heard a dog barking for them. When he turned around he saw a large black poodle.
"Wait, wait," barked Bentley, "where are you two going?"
"We've got business to attend to, and besides who are you?" smirked Hannibal. He was already disgusted with Rudie and he didn't need another dog butting in.
"My name is Bentley," woofed Bentley.
"Glad to meet you, now we are in a hurry," growled Rudie.
"Wait, what business are the two of you attending to?" woofed Bentley. He laughed at the thought of the fluffy yellow cat and the big gray and white dog having business together.
"Get over it, we are in a hurry," barked Rudie, feeling a little guilty as he thought of the bag of treats with Bentley's picture and name on it.
"I want to come too," woofed Bentley, "besides, I am looking for something."
"What are you looking for?" Hannibal purred slyly.
"A bag of treats. They are special treats that my grandmother made for me, and I lost them this morning. I just have to find them," Bentley woofed.
"Well, you can't come with us Bentley. We have a secret club and we are having a special emergency meeting and you can't come, so there," barked Rudie as he started running faster toward the creek.
"Wait up, Rudie," meowed Hannibal, "what's gotten into you anyway?" Hannibal was surprised. He had never seen Rudie so rude, and he thought it might be fun to let Bentley join the club. Besides, if Bentley joined the club then Hannibal might have someone to boss around.
Hannibal leaned over to Rudie and meowed in his most whisper-like meow, "Rudie, why not let him come with us? He is a dog after all, and what can it hurt?"
"Mind your own business, Hannibal. He can't come, okay, now leave it," growled Rudie.
Bentley watched as Hannibal and Rudie ran toward the creek. "Let them go," he thought to himself as he slowly followed them from a distance.
When Rudie and Hannibal arrived at the creek, they saw Boots lying against the tree with a piece of grass in his mouth and Sam sniffing the ground trying to pick up the scent of a squirrel to chase. The two had already discussed their ideas of what to do about their clubhouse.
"I hate to interrupt your sniffing Sam, or your nap, Boots, but did you two decide what we should do?" snarled Rudie.
"We think we should go back to Boots' house and see if there is anymore of that cardboard left. Then maybe we should make our clubhouse down here by the creek where nobody ever cleans anything up," barked Sam leaving his squirrel sniffing for later.
"I don't know about being down here," woofed Rudie, "its pretty far from home, and what about when it gets cold?"
"And, another thing," meowed Hannibal, "how would we keep the squirrels and rabbits out? They could get in here and build their nests and stuff."
"Yeah, he has a point there," Boots woofed with a slow drawl.
"You could build it at my house," came a woof from up on the bank. It was Bentley. He had followed the cat and dog to their secret meeting place in spite of Rudie telling him not to.
"Who are you?" barked Sam.
"My name is Bentley. I just moved in the neighborhood," woofed Bentley.
"So, if you are Bentley," Boots barked, "I think we have something that belongs to you."
Sam held up the bag of treats. "We were going to find you and give these back to you. We didn't open them," said Sam as he held out the bag toward Bentley.
"My Treats!" barked Bentley. He ran down the bank and grabbed the bag of treats from Sam. "Where did you find them? I have been looking everywhere for them." Bentley jumped and barked with glee. "I told Rudie and Hannibal that I was looking for them. My grandmother made them for me and they are the best in the whole wide world."
Sam and Boots looked at Rudie. Rudie looked down at the ground. He was ashamed of himself for wanting to keep the delicious looking treats. He shook his head, "this day just keeps getting worse and worse," he thought to himself.
Hannibal looked over at Rudie, "maybe I shouldn't say anything, Rudie, but if you knew about Bentley losing his treats, and if you knew Sam and Boots were looking for him, then why didn't you just do the right thing and tell Bentley the truth back there when we first saw him?"
"I know, I know, don't you think I feel bad enough?" whimpered Rudie.
Sam and Boots looked at Rudie and Hannibal and shook their heads. Bentley was busy looking at his bag of treats.
"Let's go back and see if we can rebuild our clubhouse," Sam woofed.
"Yeah, let's take another look at where we were behind the shed. Maybe there is something we can salvage," moaned Boots.
Then turning toward Bentley Sam woofed apologetically, "Come on, Bentley, you can come with us if you would like."
"Thanks, Sam, I would like that I am new here and I haven't made any friends yet. And, anyway, Grandmother made a lot of treats, I'll share them with all of you," woofed Bentley as he joined the others.
The four dogs and Hannibal ran to Rudie's backyard. They went around to the back of the shed; they couldn't believe what they saw.
There, where their cardboard clubhouse used to be was a sturdy doghouse that was big enough for all of them. Over the doghouse door was their sign "WOOF".
"Can you believe it?" Barked Boots. "This is it!" he woofed.
"Mommy didn't destroy the clubhouse after all, she gave us a better one," barked Rudie.
"Our new clubhouse, it's beautiful! It is really ours! See," barked Sam, "that sign over the door says 'The Barkers' that means it's our clubhouse." He ran and jumped with glee.
"That's right," muttered Hannibal, "I am in a club with dogs that call themselves 'The Barkers'!"
The dogs laughed at Hannibal.
Once inside of their new clubhouse they saw a rug, all of their tennis balls, and their rawhide bone that they used to call their meetings in order.
Rudie was amazed "Can you believe it?" he barked, "just look at this!"
"It's true what they say," woofed Sam, "when you do the right thing for others, the right things are done for you in return."
Rudie put out his paw toward Bentley, "Welcome to The Barkers, Bentley."
The new friends high foured and enjoyed Bentley's treats. They were delicious. Hannibal said the ones made of chicken tasted just like mice.
Excerpted from Finders Keepers by Vicki Diane Westling Copyright © 2010 by Vicki Diane Westling. Excerpted by permission.
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