Short Reads

Duncan Dogs                    February 2018

Nancy Duncan, sat at her desk in her home office, opening the never-ending mail piled beside her computer. Each letter was a version of the last. There were many veterans suffering from PTSD who could benefit from having an emotional support dog. Unfortunately, Duncan Dogs lack the funding to provide training for more than a couple of dogs. Not nearly enough for all the people who need them.

Nancy pondered the situation and came up with a solution. A fundraiser would spread awareness of the need for training more dogs for the veterans who could use the emotional support a dog could provide them. She knew who to call to help sponsor the event. The Buttles had a son serving in the Marines, and they supported anything that pertained to helping veterans.

After a couple of rings, Betty answered.

“Hello, Betty. I wanted to ask you if you would like to help me sponsor a fundraiser. I receive more letters from psychiatrist asking for dogs for their patients. My funds have been depleted from the advertising, building the kennels, and hiring a trainer. The three dogs I have now were donated. The money we raise would be used to hire another trainer and get some more dogs.”
“I think that is a marvelous idea. I know the perfect place to have it, and I will send out invitations to the people I know who want to help our returning veterans. I will ask them to spread the word. I believe in what you are doing with the dogs, and the emotional support they can give a veteran suffering from the traumas they have endured.”

They decided on a date a month away. Nancy had one dog, Kit, fully trained and ready to have the recipient, SgtMjr Thomas Kindle, work with the dog, so they could make sure owner and dog fit. If everything worked out, Nancy and the Buttles thought the event would be the perfect place to announce the first dog placement.

She picked up the next letter. It was different, coming from a developer who wanted the parcel of land that the house and kennels sat on. Mr. Calhoun had bought up all the free land around, and her plot sat square in the middle. A distant cousin signed the area over to her to help Nancy establish Duncan Dogs. Her cousin had a son who committed suicide when he returned from Iraq. The depression was too much for him to bear. Nancy’s cousin thought if his son had someone or something, like a dog, to connect with, he would still be alive.

The letter was short but threatening for her to sell to him, so that he could develop the land into a housing development. The stationary letterhead had an email address. She sent a negative response to the developer, stating that she needed the quiet space to do the initial training of the dogs. Further into the training, the dogs were exposed to people and noisy areas. The purpose was to teach the dogs to stay in tune with their handlers.

After sending the email, Nancy walked out to the kennels. When she arrived, she noticed the lock had been cut. She rushed in and saw Kit’s gate open. She went inside and found Kit lying still, barely breathing. Nancy quickly got her cell phone out and called the veterinarian. Dr. Ken Castle told her he would be there as soon as he could.

Nancy started investigating the area. She smelled the food in the bowl, and it had a foul odor. She quickly went to the other two dogs and was relieved they were at their gates, wagging their tails. She checked their bowls and found them to smell okay. She went back to Kit’s pen and waited for the Ken.

Fifteen minutes later, Ken arrived. By this time, Kit was laboring to breath. Nancy told him about the foul smell in Kit’s food. The diagnosis was poison. Ken gave the dog something to make Kit expel the tainted food. Both sat with the dog all night. By morning, Kit was breathing better and started moving around.

“I think Kit will be fine. I believe we got the poison out before it entered into Kit’s system and organs. Keep a watch on her and make sure she eats and drinks throughout the day,” suggested Ken.

“Thank you so much. I don’t know how this happened. I will keep a watch out for anything suspicious. Would you like a cup of coffee?”

“I would love one. Do you have any idea who would want to hurt Kit? She’s almost ready to be placed, isn’t she?”

“Yes, she finished her training and the veteran is coming to work with her to make sure they fit. I haven’t had any other problems, that I am aware of. I will ask the volunteers when I see them this afternoon. I did receive a disturbing letter from the developer who wants my land. I don’t see how this would benefit him though.” As they were walking toward the house, they didn’t see the shadowy figure that left the kennel and hurried into the trees surrounding the property.

Once inside the house, Nancy started the coffee. She told Ken about the fundraiser she was going to have to raise awareness for Duncan Dogs.

“That sounds like a great idea. Can I escort you to the event?”

Nancy and Ken had dated a couple of times and had a great time. She told him she would be honored. As she was pouring the coffee, her cell phone rang. She didn’t recognize the number, but she had several volunteers that could be calling her.

“Hello.”

“This time you got to your precious dogs, next time you won’t be so lucky.” The call ended.

“That was strange. Someone called and said I was lucky to have gotten to Kit on time. They threatened all my dogs.”

“You need to call the police. I was going to mention it when your phone rang. I am going to donate a security system around the kennel and house. You live out here all alone with the dogs, and it is a long way into town.”

“Thank you for your donation.” She hugged Ken. She called the police and reported the break in and the poisoning of Kit. They said they would send someone out immediately.

Ken left to open his office. Nancy went back out to the kennels to check on Kit. The gate was opened. She remembered closing it even though she couldn’t lock it. Looking in on Kit, she was relieved to find the dog walking around. She got some fresh food and water to place in the cage.

She went to the gate when she heard a car approach. The police officers checked the gate and picked up the cut lock as evidence. Nancy explained how the gate was open when she came back out. The officers looked around with Nancy and saw no other tampering. Kit’s food was bagged to be analyzed. Outside the gate, they noticed some footprints going towards the trees that looked fresh. One followed them and discovered tire tracks. He returned and reported what he saw. They told her to report anything suspicious.

A couple of the volunteers showed up, and she explained what happened. While she was talking to them, a van drove up. It was from APT Security. They were to install cameras and a security code lock on the gate. The installer suggested to Nancy to give the code to only people she trusted.

Later in the afternoon, the trainer, Lou, came to talk to Nancy. While working with a sluggish Kit, he had kept a watch on the volunteers.

“How is Kit doing? Is he able to work with the veteran later this week?” asked Nancy.

“He is a little slow, but I believe he will be fine when the time comes. I also notice that new volunteer with red hair spent a lot of time around the food area for the dogs. He was looking for something. After what happened to Kit, I thought I should let you know.”

“Thank you, Lou. Could you walk out there with me? I walked around the area with the police and didn’t find anything. I am curious if we missed something.”

They walk to the food area and searched through the bags. Nancy recognized the smell of Kit’s bowl and found a bag that was hidden behind several others. Lou put on his gloves and set the bag aside. Nancy’s phone began to ring.

“Hello.”

“Ms. Duncan, this is Officer Talbot. I was there earlier this morning. We got a fingerprint match from the cut lock. The prints belong to Tobias Reed. Does that name mean anything to you?”

“Yes, he is one of my volunteers. My trainer noticed him around the food area, searching for something. We came out and found a bag that smelled like Kit’s bowl. We set it aside. Did you find out anything about the poison used?”

“No, they are still testing. Is Tobias still there?”

“No, I saw him leave as we walked out to the kennel area. I don’t know why he would want to hurt the dogs.”

“We will pick him up and question him. We will let you know what we find out.”

Nancy told Lou what the police said. They did a check on the dogs and went their separate ways.

Later that night, Nancy got a call from Officer Talbot. “We talked to Tobias. He was offered $1,000 to poison all the dogs, but could only get to the one before you walked in. He hid in the shadows until you and the vet left. His were the tracks we saw go into the woods. He got the money from a Mr. Calhoun, a real estate developer. We will question him tomorrow.”

“Thank you for the information. What will happen to Tobias?”

“With no priors, he will probably get community service. His fingerprints were in the system because of an incident that happened at his house.”

“That is good. Thanks again for letting me know.”

 

Kit fully recovered from the poisoning, and the interactions between Tom Kindle and Kit went extremely well. They were a great fit. Nancy convinced Kindle into coming to the fundraiser with Kit.

The fundraiser was a huge success. There were a couple of breeders present who donated a dog from their next litter. Also, a couple of trainers volunteered a couple hours a week to help train the dogs.

Kindle and Kit were a big hit. Everyone noticed Kindle’s tenseness during the event, but Kit stayed by his side, giving him the support he needed. They only stayed an hour, but the attendees saw the importance of the emotional support the dog provided. Nancy and the Buttles felt that was what help the donations. The amount of money raised would be enough to hire another full-time trainer and provide vaccinations for the dogs. Duncan Dogs was on its way to provided much needed emotional support dogs for those in need.