Authors: Ellen Miles
NEW YORK TORONTO LONDON AUCLAND
SYDNEY MEXICO CITY NEW DELHI HONG KONG
For Chica Maria and her girls, Zoe and Luna
“Let’s see, are we about to miss the exit for the airport?” Meg squinted at a sign. “No, there we are. It’s coming right up.”
“I can’t wait to get there!” Lizzie bounced in her seat. She could hardly believe that Meg had invited her along on this trip. They were going to pick up a very special puppy.
Meg Parker, who was on the Littleton fire squad with Lizzie’s dad, was one of Lizzie Peterson’s favorite people. Meg was a “dog person,” just like Lizzie. They both loved dogs and everything about them.
“Tell me again,” Lizzie asked Meg. “Tell me everything you know about this puppy.”
“Well, she was born on a farm in Ohio, and her
name is Scout,” Meg said. “She’s named after a character in one of my favorite books,
To Kill a Mockingbird
“Scout,” Lizzie repeated. She’d never read the book, but she liked the name. It was perfect for a young German shepherd puppy. “And you said she’s four months old?”
“That’s right,” said Meg. “She’s the same age Casey was when I rescued her.”
Casey was Meg’s five-year-old German shepherd. Casey had been abandoned as a puppy, and Meg had given her a home. That’s what Meg meant by “rescued.” Lizzie knew that there were lots and lots of puppies and dogs that needed homes. Meg loved German shepherds, and she liked to help them find perfect homes. Sometimes that meant working with other German shepherd lovers all over the country. Meg’s German shepherd rescue group passed the word whenever a dog or puppy needed a home. Today, Meg had invited Lizzie to come with her to pick up Scout,
who was arriving by airplane all the way from Ohio!
Meg knew of three different families who were hoping to give a German shepherd puppy a home. That’s why Lizzie and Meg were zipping along the highway in Meg’s bright blue van. The van had a special area in back for Casey, with a box called a crate where she could be safe. Meg had left Casey at Lizzie’s house so the new puppy, Scout, could ride in the van today.
Meg and Casey traveled in the bright blue van a lot, because Casey was a search-and-rescue dog. Meg had trained Casey for years, and now they worked together as a team. “Maybe it’s because she was rescued herself,” Meg had told Lizzie, “but she really seems to love rescuing others.”
Lizzie knew that search-and-rescue dogs and their owners went everywhere they were needed. They went to national parks if a child was lost in the woods. They also went to places where there had been earthquakes and people needed help,
and to snowy areas where skiers got trapped by avalanches. Dogs like Casey were trained to use their sense of smell to track down people, no matter how lost they were. Working with Meg, Casey had saved the lives of many people. She was a hero.
Casey was smart and beautiful, and she was one of Lizzie’s favorite dogs. Lizzie had
of favorite dogs. In fact, she loved pretty much every dog she met. But certain dogs were special. Like Casey. And like Buddy, the puppy that Lizzie’s family had adopted not long ago.
Buddy was one of the many puppies that the Petersons had fostered. Being a foster family meant that they took care of puppies who needed homes, just until the perfect forever families came along. Lizzie and her younger brother Charles had convinced their parents that fostering puppies was a great family activity. The Bean, their toddler brother (whose real name was Adam), did not need any convincing. He
puppies — in
fact, he seemed to think he
one. He loved to pretend he was a dog. Sometimes Lizzie thought that the Bean believed Buddy was his little brother instead of a puppy!
Buddy was tan, with some brown markings and a white heart-shaped mark on his chest. He had been a tiny puppy, the runt of his litter. (That meant he was smaller than his two sisters.) But by now he had grown into a happy, healthy puppy. He was the sweetest guy! Lizzie loved to cuddle with him after a long play session. He would lick her face, snuggle into her lap, and fall asleep. His soft, warm puppy fur smelled so good. Lizzie felt like she could kiss his silky ears and pat his round pink belly all day long. She loved that little puppy so much.
Sometimes, Lizzie still could not believe that her parents had agreed to adopt Buddy. She and Charles had wanted a dog of their own for so long! Every time they had fostered a puppy, they had hoped to keep it. But it was never quite the right
time for the Petersons to adopt a dog. Instead, they found each puppy the perfect home. Then Buddy came along, and everybody in the family fell in love with him. Now he was theirs forever.
Lizzie felt so lucky to have a dog to love. And she knew Buddy was lucky, too, to have found a loving family like hers. She wanted every puppy to find the right home.
“How will you decide which family gets to adopt Scout?” Lizzie asked Meg as they turned into the airport parking lot.
“Well, the Goodmans have been waiting the longest,” Meg said. “So I’ll probably call them first. I’ll do that as soon as we make sure that Scout is healthy and that all her papers are in order.” She pulled the van into a parking spot. “Ready?” she asked Lizzie. “Let’s go meet Scout. I think that plane that’s just about to land is probably hers.” Meg pointed to a small white plane with red markings that was circling the airport.
Lizzie watched as the plane swooped down and
bumped onto the runway. It rolled along until it stopped near the airport terminal.
The plane’s pilot belonged to a group called Wings of Love, whose members were dedicated to helping animals. Lizzie had heard about them before, but this was the first time she had seen them in action. She watched with excitement as the plane’s door opened.
A tall man jumped out and waved to Meg. “Got your dog!” he called. “She’s a sweetheart, too.” He ducked back into the plane and came out a moment later, holding a little brown-and-black puppy in his arms.
The puppy looked up at the sky and blinked. Then she yawned, stretching out one small paw.
“Aw, what a cutie!” said Meg.
“Ohh!” Lizzie loved the puppy right away.
Scout had arrived.
“Lizzie, do you want to hold Scout while we go over her paperwork?” Meg asked.
Lizzie’s eyes were shining. Did she want to hold Scout? Oh, yes, she did. She could hardly wait. In a moment, the puppy was in her arms. Lizzie buried her nose in Scout’s soft fur. “Welcome to Littleton, Scout!” she murmured.
Scout felt warm and safe in the girl’s arms. The airplane ride had been fun but a little bit loud and scary. Scout loved adventure, but she also loved hugs.
“Here’s her rabies certificate and the rest of her medical history,” the pilot was saying. He handed
some papers to Meg. “She’s a very healthy little girl, and she’s up to date on all her shots.”
Meg was nodding, but Lizzie wasn’t really listening. She was looking down at the puppy in her arms.
Scout was absolutely adorable. Her coat was fluffy and soft, and her eyes were the deepest, darkest brown. Her ears, which looked almost too big for her body, were flopped over in the cutest way. Lizzie knew that German shepherd puppies started out with floppy ears. As Scout got older, her ears would stand up straight, and she would look more like the German shepherds in books and movies.
Lizzie knew some people were afraid of German shepherds. She wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was because some of them were trained to be guard dogs, so they were supposed to look and act scary.
Meg’s dog, Casey, was the sweetest, gentlest dog in the world. Even Lizzie’s mom, who could sometimes be nervous around big dogs, loved Casey and trusted her around the Bean.
Lizzie knew that not all dogs were good with toddlers, but Casey was always very patient, even if the Bean put his fingers in her ears. Casey got along well with Buddy, too. The two dogs loved keeping each other company.
As for Scout, how could
be afraid of a puppy this cute? Lizzie nuzzled the puppy’s neck again as Meg finished up with the pilot. Then she helped Meg put Scout into the crate in the back of the van. “I wish she could just stay on my lap,” Lizzie said.
“I know, but she’ll be safer back there.” Meg checked the rearview mirror. “She’s already sleeping, anyway!”
Lizzie turned back to see. Sure enough, Scout was curled up in a tiny, furry ball, with her head resting on one of Casey’s stuffed toys. “Aww.” What an adorable puppy.
On the way home, Meg told Lizzie stories about some of the amazing things Casey had done as a
search-and-rescue dog. “You should see her when she’s working,” Meg said. “She’s all business. I couldn’t distract her even if I waved a hot dog in front of her face.”
to see her track somebody,” Lizzie said.
Meg grinned. “Well, you’re in luck,” she said. “It just so happens that Casey and I are doing a demonstration at your school this Friday. My friend James, who’s a policeman with a K-9 partner, is coming, too.”
“Really? Cool!” That was definitely something to look forward to.
When they pulled into the Petersons’ driveway, Charles and the Bean ran out to meet them. “Where’s the puppy?” Charles asked. He peeked into the van’s rear window. “Oh, she’s so cute!” He boosted the Bean up so he could see, too.
“Uppy!” shouted the Bean.
“Do you think Scout will get along with Casey and Buddy?” Lizzie asked Meg.
“Let’s find out,” Meg said. “Maybe we can introduce them in the backyard, where they’ll have room to run around.”
“I’ll let Buddy and Casey out!” Charles said. He headed back inside while Lizzie helped Meg get Scout out of the van.
The Bean laughed his googly laugh when he saw Scout in Lizzie’s arms. He held up his hands. “Uppy! Uppy! Uppy!”
“He wants to hug her,” Lizzie told Meg. “Maybe later,” she said to her little brother. But she let him pat Scout, and she watched carefully to see what Scout thought of the Bean.
Scout liked the way the little boy patted her. He was gentle, even though his voice was loud. She had a feeling he was going to be a good friend.
Lizzie’s mom and dad came out onto the deck facing the backyard to watch the dogs meet one another. “Oh, what a sweetie!” said Mom.
“She looks a lot like Casey when Casey was young,” Dad said. “If she turns out half as good as Casey, she’ll be a great dog.” Casey spent a lot of time at the fire station, and Lizzie knew all the firefighters loved her.
Buddy and Casey had trotted over to find out what everyone was so interested in. When Casey saw Scout, her ears pricked up and she started to whine with excitement. Buddy was excited, too. He put his paws up on Lizzie and tried to reach his shiny black button nose up to touch Scout’s.
Oh, boy! A new friend! Buddy liked Casey, but she was kind of boring. She didn’t want to run and tumble and play. This smaller dog might be much more fun!
Scout did not seem shy at all. She wriggled in Lizzie’s arms as if she wanted to get down and play. “What do you think?” Lizzie asked Meg.
“I think they’ll be fine,” Meg answered. “Go ahead and let her down.”
The minute Lizzie put Scout down, she and the other two dogs began to sniff one another. Their tails were wagging hard. Scout nibbled on Casey’s chin, and Casey put a soft paw on her as if to say, “Hey there, little one!” Buddy jumped around Scout, bowing with both front paws out in front of him. Lizzie knew what
“Let’s play! Let’s play!”
Then the two puppies took off, zooming around the yard as fast as their little legs could carry them. They tumbled and somersaulted and nipped and growled little puppy play growls. Casey trotted after them like a worried mother hen.
“Buddy has found a pal!” Lizzie said.
“And Casey has found a baby to care for,” Meg added. “I think Scout’s in good hands.” She pulled out her cell phone. “Now, to tell the Goodmans the good news!” She punched in a number and stepped aside to call Scout’s new family.