THE MYSTERY OF CHERI CANARY®

“Attention, Pug,” Kara said to her best buddy Ella Bella Mae. “It’s time for the vets.”
Pug climbed off her pillow perch and scampered across the floor to where Kara waited with the leash. Pug’s harness was a bright pink with Seahorses stamped on it. A present from Grand Papa. Pug loved going to the vets. Everyone there loved her and would “oooh” and “ahhh” saying “what a cute little Pug.” And the best part was she would get a treat at the end of the visit.
The waiting room was crowded. Pug’s friend, Louie, a small terrier was the first to say hello. Some yapping from Louie and snorting from Pug was their equivalent of a “high five.”
“Hello Cheri,” Kara said to the yellow canary sitting in the cage on top of the receptionist’s counter. “I hope you are having a wonderful summer.” Cheri Canary whistled back.
Kara eyed up the waiting area. She knew it would be at least twenty minutes before Pug was called to see Doctor Katzenbach. She made herself comfortable next to the lady with the French bulldog puppy.

“I’m Kara and this is Pug,” Kara introduced herself.
“This is Louise and I’m Lori,” she answered. “But we call her Weazey. It’s her first time here. That is why she is hiding so far under the bench.”
“I guess she’s a little shy,” Kara said reaching to pet Weazey’s cute little ears. They were black as ink. ”Her ears are so soft. Just like velvet.”
Phones were ringing, pets and owners were coming and going and the staff called the next patient. All the while, Joe Weasel was making his way unnoticed into Cheri’s cage. Joe Weasel was furry and very flexible. It was easy for him to squirm into small places. Joe Weasel was another office pet. Everyone knew Joe Weasel needed to be watched so as not to harm Cheri Canary. But this day, at this time, there was such distraction that no one saw Joe enter the cage. Nor did they hear Cheri as she chirped and chirped fighting the advances of Joe Weasel.
Once Pug finished her visit with Doctor Katzenbach, Kara noticed Cheri was missing and Joe was in the cage.
“Oh no,” Kara cried out. “Look! A bed of feathers in the cage. Joe Weasel has some in the corners of his mouth.”
Standing next to Kara, Pug tilted her head to the left and then to the right with her big bulging eyes staring up at Kara. It was the look of worry.
“Good grief,” Doctor Katzenbach said. “Joe, did you eat the Canary?” Joe slithered his thin body and big head through the bars of the cage. Going out the same way he got in.
“Oh Doctor,” Kara said. “This is sad. What should we do”?

Doctor Katzenbach looked around his very full waiting room. “There is nothing we can do, Kara. I need to get back to work. I am sorry you had to see this.”
The staff was devastated. They could not believe Joe Weasel got passed them. He had always tormented Cheri Canary. He would sit up on his hind legs peering in the cage and the staff would shoo him away. But this time, it was different. He had gotten in and now the only thing left were Cheri’s yellow feathers spread and splattered all along the bottom of the big brass cage.
“Weazey,” Doctor Katzenbach called. “Hi Lori. Let’s see the new pup.”
Lori stood up from the brown bench and stooped to pick up Weazey. Kara and Pug watched as Lori scooped the little bundle of velvet-like fur into her arms.

 “Look, Pug” Kara said. “It’s a few more of Cheri Canary’s feathers.”  Kara reached down to pick them up. Pug sniffed the black and white checked floor.  Kara picked up the feathers from the trail leading under the bench where Weazey had been.
“PUG!” Kara exclaimed. “Cheri! Come here, little Cheri.”
Kara cupped little Cheri Canary in her hands. Everyone was so excited that little Cheri was not harmed.
“It just goes to show,” Kara told Pug. “Sometimes you might have to ruffle a few feathers for your freedom.”

THE MYSTERY OF SIDNEY SEAHORSE®

The bright sun placed radiant reflections along the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. With each crash of the wave to the shore, the water shimmered. The waves looked like very sparkly gem stones, Kara thought. “Not just diamonds,” she said aloud to her best buddy Ella the Pug.

Kara and Pug traveled from Brooklyn, New York to her grand papa’s home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It was a summer ritual. Kara continued placing sea shells into her bag.

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“Two whole weeks of this wonderful beach,” Kara told Pug. “I might have to try surfing.”

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Pug’s ears flew back, and she tipped her head one way and then the other.

“Pug, why the look of worry?” Kara asked. “It will be spectacular as I ride the waves”

Kids running down the beach brought Kara from her daydream of catching a wave to shore.

“Look, Pug,” Kara said, pointing her finger toward the sky. “Kites! We need to fly one.”

Following the kites, Kara and Pug ran up the beach. Soon, they came to the oasis of kites.

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“Wow, Pug,” said Kara in amazement. “Have you ever seen so many kites? Look, there’s one that looks like a seal.  And there’s one of a starfish. And look at that one, Pug. A seahorse!”

Kara was about as excited as she had ever been.

“How much does it cost for the seahorse kite?” she inquired of the owner.

“Twelve dollars,” he replied.
Pug looked at Kara with that worried look again.
“Oh well,” She said scooping Pug up off the sand into her arms. “Not today, Pug.”

On the boardwalk, there were many souvenir shops. Pug followed close to Kara, every once again trying to break rank and chase a sea gull. “There it is,” Kara said walking into one of the shops. “We don’t have enough money for the kite, but I can buy this pin.”
Kara held the object in her hand. She ran her finger along the ridges of the wood carved pin and traced the small gem stones inlays. She loved the way it sparkled so much like the gems the sun made over the ocean.
“That will be five dollars,” the clerk said.
Kara placed the pin on her shirt and took a glance in the mirror. “Perfect,” she said.

“Pug, this is Sidney Seahorse and this is Pug.”
In approval, Pug’s ears stood tall as they could. The three of them continued their tour of the boardwalk until they reached Grand Papa’s house. It was blue with white shutters and a little white picket fence. It sat just off the boards, away from much of the crowds. Kara sat on the bench, under the umbrella and poured a glass of lemonade Grand had made earlier.
“I just love my new pin…” her voice stopped. The pin was gone!

“Oh, no. Oh, no,” she sobbed. “Pug we must track our steps to find Sidney.”

Pug lead the way up the boards sniffing and stopping. They searched everywhere Kara had been. Exhausted from the walk and saddened they did not find Sidney Seahorse, Kara and Pug returned to Grand Papa’s. Kara’s head hung low as she opened the gate to where Grand Papa sat under the umbrella.
“You have quite a collection of shells here,” Grand Papa said. “And this seahorse…”
Kara looked up and saw the shimmering Sidney Seahorse dangling from her Grand Papa’s fingers. She ran and placed her arms around his neck.
“I love you Grand,” she said and then kissed him on the cheek. “I thought we lost Sidney. Grand, this is Sidney Seahorse and this is Grand.”
“So you like Seahorses,” Grand asked. “They are magnificent. They are the only creature on earth in which the male carries and gives birth to the babies.”
Kara placed Pug on a chair next to where she was sitting listening very closely to her Grand Papa.  Grand Papa reached over and pinned Sidney Seahorse to Kara’s shirt.

Sidney Seahorse shimmered as the gem stones reflected light of the rays from the afternoon sun.
“It looks like a rainbow, Pug,” Kara said.
“You see,” Grand Papa said. “Even though something is different it still has beauty.”

THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING BUNNIES®

Breezes pushed the leaves of the wild blackberry trees. On the first day of summer, Shirley Squirrel climbed to the highest tree limb. Chattering.
“Tsik Tsik Tsik, Chrrrrrrrr”
Squirrel watched as the others began to gather. In the distance were Betty and Buster Groundhog. Gliding the blue sky was Cardinal Charlie and his mate, Louise. As he descended gracefully, his red feathers glistened like a bright light on the fireman’s truck.
In the far distance were Jeb and Rae Jackrabbit. Squirrel was excited. The Jackrabbits were bringing their babies.
The Cardinals hunched on a branch.
“Good day,” they chirped.
“These blackberries are a good crop,” said Betty Groundhog.
“Save some for us, Groundhogs,” chuckled Squirrel.

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The Jackrabbits arrived out of breath.
Rae screeched almost like a rooster crowing. “Has anyone seen the babies?”
Charlie swooped to the grass.
“Whatever do you mean?”
“When we woke up, they were gone,” Jeb echoed.
Betty growled, “We need to spread out.”
Stanley Snake appeared. “Misssssing bunniessss, eh?” his tongue slithered out of his mouth. “I am headed to the briar patch. I will sssssee if they are there.”
Rat moved from under the bush. “I’ll go with snake,” he burped.
“Aren’t you afraid I’ll have you for breakfassssst,” Snake hissed to Rat.
Rat glared at Snake with his beady, little eyes. His sharp nose took a whiff as the breeze filled the air with the sweet scent of honeysuckles and wild blackberries that Rat could not resist.
“I’ll check the pasture,” squeaked Rat. He spun waiving bye bye with his thin, long tail.
“As I was saying,” Betty spit as she spoke. “Everyone spread out. We will find the missing bunnies”
Cardinals investigated the hill where Charlie thought he had seen something.
“Oh dear,” Louise chirped. “That is not the bunnies at all.”
Charlie moved the bundle with his beak. “It’s only an old scarf someone lost.”
The Jackrabbits were sad. Everyone had been searching all morning. Still no bunnies.
Tired of looking, Buster began grazing the wild blackberries. Rat joined him.
A bulging Snake slithered from the briar patch. He had big lumps in his skin where everyone could see he had eaten well while looking for the missing bunnies.
Betty, Louise, Squirrel and Rae huddled near one of the honeysuckle bushes.
“Snake looks like he had a nice meal,” Squirrel chirped.
“You don’t think he ate the bunnies,” Groundhog’s teeth chattered as she spoke.
Rae Jackrabbit couldn’t bear the thought. She placed herself down on the ground, her head locked in her front legs. She was sad.
“Don’t despair,” the lady animals told their friend.
Charlie landed next to them. “I’ve given the land a bird’s eye view.”
Louise pulled a honeysuckle placing it to Charlie’s beak. “You have to keep flying,” she chirped. “Return and search the nest.”
He glided over Ripple Creek. His wings touched the leaves of the cornstalks as he zoomed through the rows of farmer Tem’s corn. He rested himself on the arm of the old scarecrow. He squinted one eye against the glare of the sun focusing on the barnyard animals in the distance. Rat knows the layout, he thought.
Catching the backwind, Charlie returned to the wild blackberry field.
He swooped down so fast picking up Rat by the neck that the other animals hardly knew what happened.
“Hey. Where are we going?” They could hear Rat in the distance. They watched as Charlie flew with Rat hanging on for dear life. Once landed safely, Charlie hopped around. Rat headed directly for the hog trough.
Charlie stood on the barn roof. He hopped along the roof’s edge, following the faint cry. He peeked into the opening. “Is anyone in there?” he sang. The crying got louder. It was them! Charlie has found the missing bunnies – Suzie, Lucy and Tye.
“Hang on,” Charlie sang. “We’ll get you out.”
Rat slipped into the spout. “Come. Follow me.”
Jeb and Rae were so happy to see their babies.
“We were going to surprise you and get to the field before you, “Suzie purred to her Mother. “We headed in the wrong direction. We will never do that again.”
The Jackrabbits were forever grateful to all their friends.

THE MYSTERY OF MISS VICKI®

Kara and her best buddy Ella the Pug sat on the stoop of the old brownstone. It was a very hot day in Brooklyn. If there was a tree growing in Brooklyn, they have yet to find it. Kara twisted her hair into braids that outlined both sides of her face. She and Pug had just finished playing a game of tag ball and she was sweating. Pug panted hard as she stretched her body out fully along the cement, trying to get cool.
“Here kitty. Here Kitty,” Mrs. Bird was calling for her cat.  “Sppssssppspss.  Spppssssss,” she made the noise in a whistling sort of way. She was tall.  Her hair piled higher on her head actually made her appear gigantic.  She was lanky. Kara thought Mrs. Bird must eat like a bird.
“I can’t find Miss Vicki,” Mrs. Bird stood at the bottom of the stoop looking over her specks at Kara. “Has Pug chased her?”
“No. Pug has been with me all morning,” Kara spoke wiping sweat from her brow. “Maybe Miss Vicki is inside keeping cool.”

“There’s a five dollar reward to whoever finds her,” Mrs. Bird said as she made her way through the front door into the cool of the vestibule.
Kara’s eyes lit up. “Did you hear that Pug? Five Dollars! We can buy a lot of snowballs with that.”  She stood up from the stoop and pointed down Pineapple Street. “Let’s start at the corner.”
Pug was already down the steps. Her tail swaying back and forth as she strutted slightly ahead of Kara.
“We have to think like Miss Vicki, Pug,” Kara said changing her gait to a skip. “If you were a cat in this dreadful heat, where would you be?”
Pug turned the corner onto Peach Road. She sniffed and stopped. And stopped and sniffed. She barked and began running.

“Slow down, Pug,” Kara commanded.

Pug stopped at her friend Cello’s house. Cello was at the front window barking out, but Pug could barely understand. She barked back. Cello could not get out and Pug could not get in. Pug ran toward Kara and back to the window again. Finally, Kara stopped.
“What is it, Pug?  Do you want me to see if Cello has seen Miss Vicki?”
Kara rang the bell. Her friend Mary came to the door with Cello barking behind. Kara explained to Mary they were looking for Miss Vicki.  Cello and Pug shared a few sniffs, whispers and small barks to each other. Mary told Kara she had not seen the kitty.
Pug ran down the steps and began barking for Kara to follow.
“I think Pug is onto something,” Mary said. And she and Cello joined Kara skipping down the long block. Pug was in the lead, with Cello close behind.  The two barking, running and panting.
Cello stopped running and took time to sniff the sidewalk alongside Kara and Mary. They could hear Pug up ahead barking. From the distance Kara saw a tree.  Pug was barking upward at the tree.
“Mary,” Kara said. “Let’s run to Pug.”
Mary picked up little Cello, tucked him in her arm and ran with Kara to the tree. The tree was white and its bark was shedding. Pug and Cello sniffed the base of the tree. Both stood on hind legs, with front legs and paws outstretched toward the top of the tree. The tree was so full of leaves the shadow sprawled out on the sidewalk creating a very nice umbrella of shade.  The girls found it refreshing, as they sat down crossed-legged on the cement. Pug barked and nudged Kara’s arm.
“What is it, Pug? I think you have brought us on a wild goose chase.”

Through the silent air, Kara heard a faint “meow” Pug ran back to the tree. Kara and Mary looked up to see Miss Vicki. Her white fur sprawled out along the white shedding branch was like camouflage.
“Miss Vicki! Come down at once,” Kara coaxed.
Mrs. Bird handed Kara the promised five dollars.

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“Let’s go and get snowballs,” Kara said to Pug, Mary and Cello.  “Isn’t it just like a cat to find the only tree in Brooklyn?”