The Canine Detective Agency was just opening up for business when its owners heard a strange noise. It sounded like someone crying.

“Oh, no. Oh, no,” the sobbing voice wailed.  It was coming form inside the building where the three detectives lived.

“Quick,” said Ben. “Someone is in trouble. We must help.”

“Follow me,” said Sam. “My dog Brutus will find the noise with his sharp hearing.”

Sam and Brutus bounded up the front stairs.  Brutus was so big he leaped the stairs three at a time. He was at the top, quick as a race horse, flying into the building.

Marcus and his dog Tracker followed. Tracker was so big he bounded up the stairs two at a time. Plop, plop, plop. He was at the top quick as a jack rabbit.

Ben looked at his dog Squirt. Squirt was barely big enough to leap onto the stairs like a bull frog. Most of the time Squirt needed a boost. To save time, Ben scooped Squirt into his arms. They were in a hurry.

Once inside the apartment building, Brutus led them straight to the strange crying sound.

Sam pounded on the door. Bam, bam, bam. “Let us in,” he said. “We are the Canine Detective Agency.”

The door didn’t open.

The Case of the Flyaway Parakeet

by Stephanie V. Moody

the count of three. Ready? One . . . two . . . three.”

Marcus banged on the door. Whack, whack, whack. “We have come to help you.”

Nothing happened.

“Maybe the door is stuck,” said Sam to Marcus. “Let’s both push together. On

The door swung open. The boys crashed through the opening, kaPLOP, landing in a heap on the floor.

“Don’t mind my friends,” said Ben, who had just reached the doorway. “They go head over heels to help kids in trouble. Now, who are you? What's the problem?

“M - m - my name is Jason Kline,” said the boy, wiping his tears. “I’ve been taking care of my aunt’s parakeet while she is away. Her name is Hoppity. She like to hop a lot.”

“Your aunt likes to hop?”

“No, her bird. And while I was feeding her  . . .”

“You have to feed your aunt?”

“No, no. Listen,” said Jason. “My aunt’s parakeet hopped out of her cage and flew out the window.”

“This is not a case for us,” said Marcus, who had finally gotten untangled from Brutus and Sam and Tracker. “Even Tracker can’t follow the scent of a flying bird.”

“And Brutus can’t catch a flying bird, either,” said Sam. “We cannot help you at all.”

“No so fast,” said Ben, looking around the room. “Something strange is going on here, something very strange.”

“What is so strange about a bird flying out of a window?” asked Sam.

“Nothing,” said Tommy, if the window is open.”

Everybody looked at the closed window. Then they looked at Jason.

“Well, I didn’t actually see her fly out the window,” he said, “but if she didn’t then . . .”

“Then what?” asked Ben.

Jason pointed at Pepper, the cat. “Then Pepper must have gobbled her up when I had my back turned for a second.”

“And that’s when Pepper swallowed Hoppity in one gulp,” said Sam.

“Oh, no,” Marcus said.” We have solved the mystery, but it doesn’t have a happy ending.”

“It’s not solved yet,” said Tommy. “Something is still not right.”

Everybody looked at Ben. Ben tapped his foot on the floor. He was thinking. Sam and Marcus groaned. They wanted to leave. Tracker and Brutus were bored, too. They curled up on the floor and went to sleep. Only Ben and Squirt paced around the room.

First Ben looked in the cage. Then he looked at the cat. At last he knew what was wrong. “Cats don’t swallow their food in one gulp,” he said. “They take their time.”

Jason snapped his fingers. “You’re right,” he said.

“Then where is Hoppity?” asked Sam

Everyone look up at the ceiling, searching for Hoppity. She was not in sight.

“Yip, yip, yip,” barked Squirt. He was not looking up. He was looking down and tugging at a big boot on the floor. He tipped it over. Out hopped Hoppity.

“Hurrah,” said Jason. “You have solved the case of the flyaway parakeet. I think you are the best detective agency in the world.”

“Yip, yip, ARF, ARF, BOW WOW,” barked Squirt, Tracker, and Brutus.

All three of them knew that Jason was right.

They were the BEST.