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Cody, Tip and the Rusty Truck Mystery
Chapter 9: Dog and Boy Help Solve Case
Last of a 9-part series

By Melanie B. Smith
msmith@decaturdaily.com 340-2468

So far: Officer Nicholas has been telling Cody Dillon's dad, a newspaper reporter, about two men caught stealing — and how Cody's dog, Tip, is connected. Will the mystery of Tip's behavior be solved?

"It was Tip's dog tags that gave the thieves away," says Officer Nicholas to Cody's dad.

Officer Nicholas explains to Cody's dad that he inspected the rusty truck, which had been impounded.

"I saw dog tags hanging from the rear view mirror. One of the tags had 'Tip' engraved on it and your address. When I asked the guys about the tags, they looked at each other. I mentioned 'animal abuse' and one started telling on the other."

The officer continues, "He said a dog that turned out to be Tip seemed to show up every time they were out looking for scrap metal to sell at the metal recycling center. He claimed they were getting only discarded metal, not stealing. He said the dog started barking like crazy when they were in an alley near a construction site, so they drove off."

"If they weren't trying to steal, why did they run?" Cody's dad asks.

"Yeah, I asked that. The guy claimed they were afraid the dog would bite. Later, the same dog came to a convenience store where they were. Then she showed up the other night nearby, barking loudly. He claimed that because it was late, they were trying to be quiet as they looked for scrap metal put out for trash. The dog was waking up the neighborhood, the guy said."

"So Tip was making more noise than their truck?" asks Cody's dad. "Yeah, right."

"The guy doing all the talking said they grabbed her, and he muzzled her, tied her legs, shoved her in a canvas bag and left her beside the road. The guy claimed he was saving Tip from his partner, who wanted to kill her."

Officer Nicholas then tells Cody's dad about his other find in the truck, scrap copper hidden in a big toolbox.

Copper

"When I asked about the copper, the other guy decided to talk. He accused his partner of stealing it."

"I'll bet I know where some of that copper came from," Cody's dad says. "I'm sure the construction site they mentioned is just down from my house. Tip ran down there barking like crazy, and the builder reported copper stolen."

"We've had more reports, too. Some people said that copper was ripped out of their air conditioning units while they were away. And that happened in the area where Tip was found," Officer Nicholas says.

"I think they'll get what's coming to them for stealing — and for animal abuse."

Cody's dad calls his son, who yells, "All right!" into the phone when he hears the story about Tip tracking the thieves.

"Wow, Tip must have known the guys were stealing from recycle bins and from the construction site and those other places. Tip's a hero!" Cody says.

A few days later, Gary Cabal invites Tip, Cody and his dad to the house under construction. Cabal has poured a large concrete steppingstone. As everyone watches, he uses a stick to write in the wet concrete: This house is dedicated to a boy and dog, Cody and Tip.

"I apologize to Cody and to Tip," the builder announces. "It seems Tip was trying to communicate that something was wrong, and I didn't understand. Cody paid attention and, with the help of his dad and the police, some bad guys are behind bars."

Then the builder has Cody and Tip put their hands and paws in the concrete. Cody's dad makes notes and a photographer from the newspaper takes pictures.

The next day, Cody's dad writes in his newspaper column: "Let me tell you about an unusual dog and her owner, who happens to be my son. They are crime solvers, and I'm proud of what they did."

The picture shows Tip turning one more of her odd circles, her paws making extra prints on the concrete, and Cody trying once more to grab her.

Later at home, Cody sits at his computer. Tip curls up at his feet, content to chew bits of concrete from between her paws.

E-mail to Mom

Cody finds his unfinished e-mail to his mother. He writes: "Mom, you won't believe why Tip was acting so crazy. She was tracking down some criminals!"

Cody finishes his drink and sets the cup bottom up. A shape on the bottom catches his eye. It's the recycling loop that his teacher said shows something can be recycled. Cody looks again at the symbol. It reminds him of the strange dance Tip has been doing. Could his dog have been re-creating the design?

"Nah ... couldn't be," Cody thinks, glancing at Tip.

Tip only sighs and rolls over for a nap.

THE DAILY's NEWSPAPER IN EDUCATION LINK: Could Tip really be smart enough to demonstrate the recycling loop? Look on the bottom of a recyclable bottle for the symbol.

Check The Daily on page A2 to see how the newspaper supports recycling. Write a paragraph about why everyone should recycle.

(Alabama Standard: English/Language Arts — Respond with understanding and empathy to information read, viewed and heard.)

More: Lawmakers in some states are increasing the punishment for stealing construction materials like copper because it has become such a big problem. What do you think?

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