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Huggy, the Purebred Dog Was Stolen

Unless you're in law enforcement there aren't too many opportunities in life when you can experience the role of an undercover detective. If you like solving a good mystery than you may be intrigued by detective work, or at least a good detective story.

In the late 1970's I was working in the home furnishings industry selling draperies and floor coverings. The receptionist Roberta and I enjoyed crafts and she had her own kiln for firing ceramics. One evening I became acquainted with Roberta's purebred Cocker Spaniel, "Huggy" while working on ceramics at her home. As most dogs are, her dog was very happy, and loved to be pampered.

Several months later, while at work Roberta told me that Huggy had suddenly disappeared, and she naturally was quite upset. In that her dog was confined to their fenced back yard, it certainly was suspicious that her dog suddenly disappeared.

The family that lived next door to Roberta had two children but they did not have a dog of their own. Roberta and her husband always allowed their children to play with Huggy. Then the family moved away and Huggy disappeared the same day!

Roberta's heart was sure the neighbor stole her dog, and she came up with a plan to investigate. First she would have to find out where they moved. The house the neighbor family moved out of was a rental, which was managed by a realtor. She called the realtor and explained that she had some items which belonged to the family that vacated the rental, and that they were stored in her garage. Back in the late 70's the laws were quite different than now so the realtor did not hesitate to provide her with the address to a new home the family had purchased. Now all Roberta needed was their new phone number. That was the easy task since it was listed with directory assistance. Roberta then proceeded with her plan to retrieve Huggy.

Armed with her newfound information Roberta contacted the neighbor by phone. Roberta's neighbor did not know she worked for a drapery and floor covering company, and nor were they familiar with her voice over the phone, but just to be sure she concealed her identity over the phone. She called and asked if they would like to get a quote for window coverings for their new home. As luck would have it they were receptive to have a representative go out and measure their windows and provide them with a quote. That was where the fun came in for me, and our detective work to rescue Huggy had begun!

Roberta asked if I would go out to her neighbors' new home to see if Huggy was there, while pretending that my intentions were to provide them with a quote for window treatments. I eagerly complied and left for the appointment.

I'll never forget as I walked through the door to their house. Just as Roberta had suspected, Huggy indeed was there! However, Huggy was no longer the happy doggy that I had remembered, and they were calling her "Huggy Bear!" That was all the evidence I needed, and it was obvious that the dog they referred to as "Huggy Bear", was really Roberta's dog Huggy. It was difficult for me to keep a straight face knowing the real reason as to why I was there, but I went along with the game to measure for draperies as planned, but very anxious to finish.

Finally, I finished measuring the windows and completed the quote. The couple informed me they would not make a decision on the window treatments that day, which was obviously fine with me as I had no intentions on closing the sale!

I quickly departed their home and I drove to the nearest phone booth to call Roberta, as this was before cell phones existed. Roberta answered and I could not speak the words quickly enough, "Roberta, they have Huggy! We have to save Huggy!" Roberta was elated when I told her Huggy was there.

As I drove back to the office to meet up with Roberts, she called the police department. Her request was met with much resistance, and the Police department was refusing to get involved. Their decision angered Roberta as she was determined to get her dog back. She informed the police department the fact that she owned a handgun, and would take it with her to retrieve her dog herself! Roberta certainly went out on a limb to inform them that she would go out there with her gun, but it prompted them to listen to her plea for help! The police department agreed they would send an unmarked car out to meet us at her neighbors' new home early that evening, but they made it clear that without a search warrant the police officer could not enter the home.

With the plan in place we later arrived at their home to meet the detective and retrieve Roberta's dog Huggy. Roberta went to the door as the detective and I stood out of sight at the front corner of the home. The father opened the door and as soon as he recognized Roberta he quickly pulled the door against his body so she couldn't see inside. Roberta informed him she was there to retrieve Huggy, yet he denied having Huggy. It was then that Roberta responded, "Well, she says you have Huggy!" as she pointed in my direction. At that moment the detective and I walked toward the door. The father just stood there with a dumbfounded look on his face gazing toward me as he realized he had been tricked by our clever plan.

Stuttering nervously, he reached into the house to get Huggy, yet continued to deny that Huggy was Roberta's dog. He then released Huggy into Roberta's arms. It was the most wonderful moment I had ever seen between a dog and its owner! Huggy was so excited to see Roberta and the wagging of her tail proved her happiness.

Without incident, Roberta left with Huggy in her arms, and I left feeling like I had just been transformed from a decorator to a detective. Needless to say that was one estimate for window coverings that I never sold, but the reunion between Roberta and her dog was priceless, and far more valuable.

Just when you thought this story was over I must share how it ended, which was with nearly an unbelievable twist. The family that stole Roberta's dog wanted to get Huggy back, and of course they were angry at Roberta for being so clever. The father figured he could take Roberta to court and prove that Huggy was his dog! It was nearly unbelievable to us that anyone would have the nerve to try such an idea, but when the court day finally arrived, reality hit as we sat in the courtroom.

Roberta and I found ourselves defending her status as the true owner of Huggy. Prior to court, Roberta and I met with the prosecuting attorney. He absolutely loved our story, and laughed about how we rescued Huggy. He was very surprised that her former neighbor was trying to prove that Huggy was their dog. He did not see that there should be any challenge, but he was wrong.

Roberta nearly lost the battle in court since she did not have papers on Huggy, and as the judge stated to Roberta, "The dog is a purebred, and therefore appears to be the same dog as any other black cocker. Due to the fact that you don't have papers to prove Huggy is your dog, how do we know you are really the owner of Huggy?" Roberta and I were shocked that the judge was moving to rule in favor of the man that stole her dog, and panic set in as we realized she was about to lose her Huggy to the thief!

However, thieves and crooks are not as smart as they may attempt to appear. Such was the case when the dog snatcher volunteered to take the stand. Since the judge was actually ruling in his favor, the man would have faired better if he had kept his mouth shut. But, the tongue will always reveal the truth when it trips over it's own lies! When the man took the stand he immediately discredited himself by trying to fabricate an elaborate story, and fortunately the judge saw through to the truth, and realized that Roberta indeed was the true owner of Huggy.

Justice was served, and the dog snatcher was fined with the court costs, our mileage to court, and our lost wages for our time in court, and he was placed on one year of probation.

To bring this detective story to a final close, thankfully it was proved that Huggy of course knew who her real owner was, and who the thief was. A good dog can always sniff out a crook. But, if there's a lesson to learn here it is the fact that one should always should have papers on a purebred dog, as you may one day need them in court to claim ownership of your dog.