Monday, July 7, 2014


                 From the Files of Detective Joe Schnauzer, NYPD 
                                  (New York Police Dog) 

                                      CHAPTER ONE

A cop’s life isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

Oh sure, it has its moments – sniffing around for clues; chasing down a car, if you’re lucky.
Usually, though, you sit around scratching yourself.

Then there are those times you’ve made a difference – and you realize life is worth
barking about. 

This was one of those days.

At first, it was nothing special – just a bunch of paperwork. (Yup, even with computers, there are certain things you just have to do on the paper.) I was already looking forward to chewing the fat with the guys down at the Red Hydrant after work.

Then we got that call from the Bear family.  

Somebody had trashed their place while they were out earlier that morning. It sounded like just another breaking-and-entering – the type I cut my canines on when I was a pup fresh out of the academy.

I drove out to the Bears’ house, located in a suburban development called The Woods.
They were waiting by the front door when I pulled up.

There were three of them: a husband and wife and their young son. I tried to size them up.
The husband was a little grizzly around the edges. His wife was the polar opposite.
And the boy? Well, he looked like he just wanted to go somewhere and hibernate ‘til I was gone.

I stepped out of the car and flashed my license. “Mr. and Mrs. Bear?  Joe Schnauzer, NYPD.”
Mr. Bear smiled. “Please, call us Poppa and Momma.” He patted his son on the head. “And this is Baby.”

The names, I quickly learned, were the only simple things about this case.

They took me to the kitchen, where I immediately noticed three bowls of hot cereal in various stages of consumption.

“Would you like some refreshments?” Mrs. Bear asked. “A cup of honey? Some honey candy? A piece of honey cake?” Nice lady, but a one-track mind. 
“No thank you,” I replied, taking out my pen and notepad. “Why don’t you tell me what happened?” 

“We were just sitting down to breakfast,” Mr. Bear recollected. “Porridge, to be exact. But it was too hot to eat right then, so we decided to go for a walk while it cooled off – 20 minutes, tops. And when we came back, the door was open.”

His wife turned to me. “I told him he should have locked it.” Mr. Bear, in the doghouse, nodded sheepishly.

“Anything stolen?” I asked.

“Only a bite or two of my wife and mine’s cereal,” said Mr. Bear.

I took a closer look in the bowls. Frankly, this porridge stuff looked like shredded newspaper to me. On the other hand, I’d probably eat a shoe if you poured gravy on it.
“Now, you say they took only a little of yours – what about the boy’s?” I asked.

“Somebody ate all my porridge!” Baby cried.

Hm – a possible lead.  “Any kids in the neighborhood giving you trouble?” 

Mrs. Bear shook her head.  “They’re good children, all the species – we all get along, the kids play together. That’s why we moved to The Woods – it’s a lovely ecosystem. Now, then,” she said, smiling, “how about a nice, honey-glazed doughnut?”

I politely declined, and asked to see the rest of the house. In the living room two large chairs sat in front of a roaring fireplace.
“We never sit this close to the fire,” Mr. Bear said. “Whoever was here moved them.”

Talk about making yourself at home. “Hope you keep your housepaint under lock and key!” I cracked, trying to break the tension. Well, I thought it was funny.

Suddenly, I felt Baby tugging at my pants leg. He was pointing to a third, smaller chair that lay in several pieces. “Somebody was sitting in my chair!” he explained.

Mrs. Bear shook her head. “What kind of animal would do this?”

“One bigger than your son, that’s for sure,” I said, kneeling down for a closer look. “See the way the pieces are laid out? Somebody thought they could fit in this. They thought wrong.”

A routine observation, but Mrs. Bear was impressed. “You’re very well trained, Detective Schnauzer.” 

“Well, the academy kept me on a short leash, alright.”

From there, we went to the bedroom. Like Momma and Poppa’s porridge and chairs, their beds had been tried out for size, then apparently rejected. But the third…

“Somebody was sleeping in my bed!” Poor kid – he was having a tough time dealing with this. And frankly, so was I – this was nothing like any lair invasion I’d ever investigated.

I had a litter of questions: Why was nothing stolen? Why was the kid’s breakfast eaten?
And what was this thing with auditioning the furniture? I was ready to roll over and lay down.
That was my first mistake.

                                      (Tomorrow: Chapter Two)


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