Annie poured herself a cup of coffee as Ryan tried to decide between Crunch Berries and Frosted Flakes. Sawyer ignored them both as he stared out their backyard window.
"Is Sawyer doing alright?" asked Annie
"I'm not sure." said Ryan "Why do you ask?"
"Well, he's been spending a lot of time looking out that window." said Annie "Normally, he'd be in the kitchen with us, waiting for his breakfast."
Ryan shrugged. Annie grabbed her books and headed out the door. Ryan brought his bowl of cereal with him as he approached Sawyer.
"What's up, dog?" said Ryan
"Nothing. Just hanging out." said Sawyer without turning his gaze away from the window.
"What is it you're looking at?" asked Ryan
"Oh, nothing." said Sawyer "Like I said, Just hanging--"
Sawyer stopped talking and wagged his tail as the neighbor's poodle pranced out their back door.
"Ah, I see what it is you've been staring at." said Ryan
Sawyer sighed happily as the girl of his dreams exercised. His smile quickly faded as he came back to reality.
"Her name is 'Buffy'." said Sawyer "And she's totally out of my league."
"Why?" asked Ryan
"She does shows and she was on the cover of 'Dog Fancy' three times." said Sawyer "And look at her! She's gorgeous!" exclaimed Sawyer
"Well, you're a good looking dog, too." said Ryan "Strong, athletic..."
"That's true..." said Sawyer
"Let's go outside and throw a football or something." said Ryan "Let her see Sawyer in action."
"OK!" said Sawyer
* * * * *
"Go long!" yelled Ryan
Ryan threw the football as hard as he could as Sawyer sprinted after it. He leaped into the air and caught the ball, then looked over at Buffy and saw that she was watching. Sawyer kept staring at Buffy as he ran with the ball in his mouth... and ran right into a bush. Sawyer quickly picked himself up and looked over at Buffy, who put her nose in the air and trotted back inside her house. Sawyer was humiliated as he walked back inside with his head down.
"She thinks I'm a loser!" cried Sawyer
"No she doesn't!" said Ryan "That was an awesome catch!"
"Shut up!" snapped Sawyer "It was your idea to play catch. Did you see the way she looked at me?"
"It wasn't that bad." said Ryan "Maybe we could--"
"No!" said Sawyer "No more advice from you!"
Sawyer went to his room and slammed the door shut. He picked up his MP3 player and sat on his bed, looking at pictures of Buffy on Dog Fancy. A short while later, Sawyer heard sirens approaching. He left his room and found Ryan just as he was headed out the front door.
"Is that the police?" asked Sawyer
"Yeah, they stopped at the Jones' house." said Ryan
"That's Buffy's house!" said Sawyer
* * * * *
"Oh, it's just terrible!" said Mr. Jones "My Buffy has been kidnapped!"
"Calm down, Mr. Jones." said Officer Culver "We'll get to the bottom of this. Did you see or hear anything?"
"All I heard was her cry for mercy as the two thugs showed up and took her!" cried Mr. Jones "I ran outside just in time to see their van drive away."
"Can you give us a description of the vehicle?" asked Officer Culver
"It was white. No windows. I didn't see a license plate." said Mr. Jones
Sawyer was making mental notes as Officer Culver wrote everything down. Ryan could tell what Sawyer was thinking.
"It's too dangerous." said Ryan, under his breath.
"Then stay home." Sawyer whispered back.
Ryan thought for a minute. He couldn't let Sawyer go alone and there was no way he could stop him.
"What's your plan?" asked Ryan
* * * * *
Sawyer sat at the computer and logged onto the internet.
"Why can't the cops take care of this?" asked Ryan "They have access to more databases than we do."
"Of course they do." said Sawyer as he typed "But they won't spend resources on finding a dog."
"So where do we begin?" asked Ryan
"The large white van." said Sawyer "According to this site, there are 37 white cargo vans registered in this county. Now we'll narrow it down to vans with no windows. 12."
"So we have to search all of those 12?" asked Ryan
"Nope." said Sawyer "Now we take the owners of the vans and check for criminal records."
Ryan and Sawyer watched as the computer checked each profile against the criminal records database. Then they got a hit.
"Here we go." said Sawyer "Guy named Mike Samsonite. Breaking and entering, robbery, kidnapping..."
"That would be a good place to start." said Ryan
Sawyer wrote down Samsonite's address, then he and Ryan put their weapons in their truck and headed out. Once they arrived, Ryan parked the truck a block away from Samsonite's house. Using a satellite image, Ryan found an alley they could follow all the way to the criminal's house. After agreeing on a plan of attack, Ryan and Sawyer bumped fist-to-paw, then left the truck.
"Hold on." said Sawyer "I forgot something."
Sawyer pulled a stocking from out of his pack and put it over his face.
"Sawyer..." said Ryan "What are you doing with that thing on your head?"
"I don't want them to see our faces." said Sawyer as he handed a second stocking to Ryan.
"Yeah but, you're a dog." said Ryan
"And we all look the same?" demanded Sawyer, still holding the stocking with his paw.
* * * * *
Ryan and Sawyer approached the house with their guns drawn.
"I can hardly see through this thing." said Ryan as he adjusted the stocking.
"Quiet, you'll give us away." said Sawyer
Ryan peaked through the back window, but couldn't see anything.
"Nothing in this window." said Ryan
"The basement." said Sawyer as he looked through the basement window "I see movement down here."
Ryan pulled out a screwdriver and quietly removed the window. Sawyer climbed down first, then Ryan followed. Sawyer focused in on a blanket that appeared to be covering something. The blanket seemed to rise and fall slightly as if someone was breathing underneath. Sawyer approached it and, with his weapon ready, pulled the blanket away.
"Buffy! Shhhh..." Sawyer said in hushed dog.
Buffy looked up at the gun and the stocking covered face with terror in her eyes. Sawyer slung his weapon over his shoulder and pulled off his mask. Relief swept over Buffy as she recognized Sawyer.
"Do you know why they took you?" asked Sawyer
"I heard them talking about meeting with potential buyers." said Buffy "They were going to sell me."
"Not if I can help it!" said Sawyer as he held out an open paw. "Let's go."
Ryan helped Buffy out the window, then heard footsteps above them.
"They're here!" said Buffy to Sawyer
"She says that's them." said Sawyer "You go ahead. I'm going to give them a surprise they won't forget."
Ryan climbed out and handed Sawyer his shotgun. Sawyer pulled a pen and paper from his pack and quickly wrote something down, then jumped under the blanket that had covered Buffy. Soon, the basement door opened and Sawyer heard voices and footsteps coming down the stairs. He attempted to count the number of people that stepped off the steps. 'One, two, three... four.'
"Gentlemen, thank you for coming." said one of them "We know that you have expensive taste and a desire for the finer things in life."
"And we have everything we want." said another "What could you possibly offer to us that we can't buy ourselves?"
Sawyer heard the sound of magazine pages being turned.
"This is 'Buffy'." said the first voice "She is the most prized animal on the Dog Show Circuit. She's cute, cuddly, friendly, house trained..."
'One out of four ain't bad.' thought Sawyer
"Let us see her." said another voice. Sawyer flexed his paws and gripped his weapons in anticipation.
"Very well." said the first voice as he grabbed the blanket "I present to you, Buf--"
Sawyer sprang up and howled with fury as he aimed the guns at the four men.
"What the heck is this!" said Samsonite
Sawyer recognized him from the computer picture. He pointed one weapon at the note he had written and motioned for Samsonite to pick it up. Shaking, Samsonite picked up the note and stuttered as he read it.
"I- I- I'm supposed to tell everyone to take off their pants and throw them into the corner." said Samsonite
Sawyer growled at Samsonite until he removed his pants as well.
"Now I have to tie everyone up." said Samsonite
He took ropes from Sawyer's pack and tied up the other three men.
"You did a poor job of describing this dog." said one of the men as Samsonite tied him up.
After tying up the buyers, the criminal read the next line of the note.
"Now I'm going to call the cops on myself, because I'm a jerk..." said Samsonite
* * * * *
The phone at the police station rang as Officer Culver reached across his desk and picked it up.
"Police Department, Officer Culver speaking." said the officer
"Hello, I'm a criminal who steals things that are not mine. I am bad and look forward to being in prison where I belong..." said Samsonite
"Who is this?" said Officer Culver "Where are you calling from?"
Samsonite gave Officer Culver his address, then hung up the phone. Sawyer handcuffed Samsonite, then gathered his things and headed out the window. He found Ryan and Buffy in the truck, waiting to leave.
"You did it!" said Buffy "You're my hero!"
Sawyer's tail wagged as they drove off.
"What did she say?" asked Ryan
"I think she likes me." said Sawyer with a smile.
A car honked at them as they drove past Starbucks. Ryan waved.
"Who was that?" asked Sawyer, looking over his shoulder.
"Annie." said Ryan
* * * * *
When they returned home, Buffy ran to her house and pawed at the door. Mr. Jones opened it and joyfully hugged her. Sawyer watched from a distance as Mr. Jones opened the door for her to enter. She stopped, looked over at Sawyer and smiled. His heart pounded with excitement.
'The girl from the cover of Dog Fancy likes me!' he thought
"Are you gonna ask her out?" said Ryan
"Yup." said Sawyer, still looking at Buffy's house and wagging his tail.
"When?" asked Ryan
"I don't know." said Sawyer "I guess that will be a story for another time."