For Ages
8 to 12

Dog Squad 2: Cat Crew is a part of the Dog Squad collection.

Do you love DOGS? Do you love CATS? Do you love ADVENTURE? Then put your paws together for DOG SQUAD, the hilarious, crime-fighting middle-grade series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library!

When trouble calls . . . it’s Dog Squad to the rescue! But when calamity calls . . . call in Cat Crew!
 
Fred, the loveable stray who became the star of the hit streaming sensation, DOG SQUAD, is back and working on a new show—Cat Crew! But wait a second—there’s something funny about these felines! And something suspicious about their animal trainer. Is this cat crew being electronically controlled?!?! And what exactly is the evil trainer plotting? Can Fred save the day . . .and the cats?! It's time for an all paws on deck top-secret rescue mission!
 
Get ready for book 2 in this action-packed, middle grade series that has kids (and canines) howling with laugher! Nothing's too ruff for the Dog Squad!

An Excerpt fromDog Squad 2: Cat Crew

1

DOG SQUAD

EPISODE 3.15

“EIFFEL TERRIBLE”

SCENE 24

Ext. the top of the Eiffel Tower.

The diabolical villain known as Cattywampus has stepped in one too many piles of dog poop on the sidewalks of Paris. It has made his soul bitter. His shoes stinky.

Cattywampus has vowed to eliminate all the dogs in Paris by turning the sightseeing telescopes on the observation deck of the 1,063-foot-tall iron tower into dog-seeking sizzle guns.

“It’s time to grill the hot dogs!” he shouts to his minions, a brigade of Parisian alley cats who despise dogs even more than Cattywampus does.

The cats meow maniacally and leap up to their perches on the high-tech weapons. They wrap their claws around the triggers, awaiting the signal to fire.

Meanwhile, the Dog Squad--Duke, Nala, and Scruffy--continues its mad dash up the 1,665 steps to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

“Nothing’s . . . too . . . ruff . . . for . . . us,” pants Scruffy, the crew’s scrappy, wisecracking terrier.

“This is pawful, Duke,” says Nala, the world’s bravest and boldest border collie. “Those beams will French-fry every dog on both sides of the Seine!”

“And we’re dogs!” barks Scruffy. “I don’t want to be fried to a crispity crunch!”

“Well, mes amis,” says their heroic leader, Duke, his noble head rimmed with golden light, “when trouble calls . . .”

The three canine crusaders pause their ascent to proudly proclaim, “It’s Dog Squad to the rescue!”

Suddenly, a wild-eyed mass of tangled fur leaps out of the shadows with its curled claws extended.

“Yipes!” yips Scruffy. “Cat attack!”

“You two deal with these henchcats,” says Duke, hurtling up the staircase. “I’ll deal with Cattywampus on my own!”

Meanwhile, at the top of the Eiffel Tower . . .

The ray guns thrum as they gain power.

“When do we destroy all the dogs?” hisses an angry cat.

“Soon, my fine furry friends,” chortles Cattywampus, rubbing his mittened hands together. “Soon!”

“How do we know we won’t accidentally hurt any cats?” asks a fraidy-cat dangling off one of the weapons.

“Don’t get hiss-terical, Monsieur Fromage! I have designed these weapons purrfectly. They will target only dogs.”

“Wait just a doggone minute!” shouts Duke, leaping onto the observation deck.

“Drat!” snarls the villain in his thick French accent. “It is Duke. The heroic leader of the Dog Squad. He thinks he can save the world! ‘Ha!’ I say. Go home to America, you filthy fleabag!”

“Sir,” says Duke, “I don’t like your cattitude!”

Duke races around the deck, barking ferociously, scaring the evil minions, who turn tail and flee. Cattywampus can do nothing but shake his mittened fist at the sky.

As the ray guns power down, the cats seek safety by climbing the tallest thing they can find: the antenna at the peak of the Eiffel Tower.

Their fur slightly ruffled, Nala and Scruffy join Duke on the observation deck.

“Looks like you treed those kitties just in time!” says Nala.

“Guess somebody better call the fire department to come rescue ’em,” cracks Scruffy.

“No,” says Duke nobly. “We will assist these cats in their descent, just as soon as we deliver Cattywampus to the proper authorities. For they aren’t bad cats. They simply wound up in the wrong furever home.”

The music swells.

The scene ends.

The audience cheers.

2

“And cut!” called the director. “That’s a wrap for this location and a wrap for Paris. We’re heading home!”

The film crew applauded and congratulated each other.

“Good job, mes amis,” said the French actor playing Cattywampus, giving Fred, Nala, and Scruffy each a head pat. “It was an honor to work with you.”

Fred played Duke, the beloved leader of the number one streaming sensation, Dog Squad. Nala and Scruffy had been with the show from the start. Fred had only joined the cast about six months ago. He took over for the original Duke, who could’ve been Fred’s identical twin (except that the lightning bolts of white fur on their foreheads slashed in opposite directions).

Sometimes Fred couldn’t believe what an incredible journey his life had been. From an abandoned, unloved stray searching for scraps of food in an alley to a star in less than a year.

People all over the globe cheered the heart-racing, tail-wagging adventures of Scruffy, Nala, and their fearless leader, Duke.

But now, when the cameras and lights were off, Fred didn’t feel like Duke. He was just Fred. A dog perched at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, his legs quivering. He wanted to close his eyes because he was up SOOOO high, and Fred, it turned out, was SOOOO afraid of heights.

“Hey, Fred,” said Scruffy. “What’s wrong, pal?”

“I’ve never been up this high before!” Fred admitted.

“Yes you have,” said Nala. “Yesterday. When we filmed the first half of this sequence.”

“But yesterday, I was Duke. When I’m pretending to be Duke, I can pretend to be brave. But now? You heard the director. It’s a wrap. We’re all done. I’m not Duke anymore. I’m just Fred.”

His limbs shook so violently, Fred feared he might rattle the tower’s girders loose and make all their rivets pop out. The whole Eiffel Tower could fly apart and tumble to the ground!

Eep! He hoped he didn’t faint.

Jenny Yen, the famous animal trainer who had adopted Fred, Nala, and Scruffy (and more than three dozen other talented dogs), came over with a fanny pack full of treats.

Scruffy gobbled his down in a flash. Nala sat in a confident pose and waited patiently for Jenny to present the treat in her palm.

“There is power in pausing,” Nala said calmly. “And wisdom in waiting.”

Scruffy rolled his eyes. Nala spent her off-seasons herding goats at a goat yoga retreat.

“You were such a good boy,” Jenny said to Fred, “you deserve two treats.”

But Fred wasn’t hungry. In fact, just the thought of eating THIS HIGH OFF THE GROUND made his stomach lurch. His tail drooped.

“Wow,” said Jenny. “Looks like somebody’s pooped.”

She turned to the crew.

“You guys? Let’s get these three downstairs. They’re worn out.”

“No wonder,” said the director. “They were awesome!”

“No,” said Leo Espinosa, the show’s writer and producer. “They were pawsome!”

Jenny clipped a leash onto Fred’s collar and led him to the elevator landing. One of her assistants escorted Nala and Scruffy.

Fred dared to look down. At Paris. The people looked like ants. The cars like beetles. His legs went all wobbly again.

Fred would need to ride two different elevators to make it down to the street. One from the top to a floor with a restaurant and more panoramic views. Another from that floor to the ground-level exit.

Both elevator cars were open cages! You could see everything as you flew up or plummeted down.

Fred closed his eyes.

And wished he was already home.

He loved his home at Jenny’s ranch.

It was the best he’d ever had.

He’d do anything to keep living there.

But he’d rather not do any of it 984 feet above the ground.

3

Paris was one of the dog-friendliest cities in the world.

Dogs were allowed in almost any store, shop, or restaurant, including the Restaurant Le Bouledogue, the café where the mascot, an elderly French bulldog, greeted Fred, Nala, and Scruffy when Jenny and Mr. Espinosa took them out on the town to “celebrate our Parisian triumph.”

“Bonjour,” said the gruff little bulldog. “I am, how you say, a very large fan of your work.”

Then he kiss-licked all three on both cheeks.

“Um, thanks,” said Fred.

“Merci,” added Nala.

“You guys serve that steak with tartar sauce I’ve heard so much about?” asked Scruffy.

“You mean, of course, the steak tartare. Raw minced beef with onions, capers, and Worcestershire sauce.”

“Yeah,” said Scruffy. “I’m gonna have some of that. But without any onions, capers, or what’s-this-here sauce. Just gimme the minced beef.”

Fred was feeling better. For one thing, he was at street level. For another, he was with his best buds and two of his favorite humans in the world.

It was a beautiful night. Accordion music wafted on the breeze. The streetlights were twinkly. From his seat, Fred could see a TV playing behind the busy bar.

Escouade des chiens, which was French for Dog Squad, was on the screen. Human actors, of course, always dubbed in the voices for Duke, Nala, Scruffy, and all the other animal characters. Fred smiled. He had never heard himself speaking French before.

When the garçon (which Fred learned meant “waiter”) came to the table, Jenny (who, of course, only heard barks when the dogs talked) somehow knew to order steak tartare for Scruffy, regular steak for Fred, and a “mélange of three fishes served with steamed seaweed” for Nala. Maybe Jenny’s niece, Abby, got her “pet psychic” mind-reading capabilities from her aunt. Or maybe they both just got lucky sometimes.

Several other diners recognized the Dog Squad stars and asked for pawtographs, which the three dogs gladly provided. Jenny always packed an ink pad in her bag for just such requests.

Jenny and Mr. Espinosa clinked glasses filled with a bubbly beverage and congratulated everyone, dogs included, on Dog Squad’s “terrific third season.”

“Now we get to take a two-month break,” said Mr. Espinosa with a contented sigh. “Any plans?”

“Just more of the same,” said Jenny. “I’d like to expand the ranch a little so Abby and I can take in even more strays. Help them find their furever homes. Somebody abandoned all those puppies at the shelter during Hurricane Adelaide. . . .”

Mr. Espinosa smiled and shook his head. “You know you can’t save the whole world all by yourself, Jenny.”

“I know, I know,” she said with a laugh. “So, when I need your help . . .”

Mr. Espinosa laughed. “Just ask for it.”

“Thank you. I will.”

“Is Nala spending her break at that goat yoga place again?”

Jenny nodded. “She loves it there.”

“Can I take Scruffy home to Brooklyn for a few weeks?” said Mr. Espinosa. “We always have fun hanging out together.”

“That sounds terrific,” said Jenny.

“Yeah,” said Scruffy between slurps of chopped meat. “I could use a little street time in New York City. It helps me maintain my edge, know what I mean?”

“Oh, indeed I do,” said Nala.

Fred was wondering where he might spend what the TV people called the “hiatus.” It meant a pause. A vacation. A little time off between wrapping up season three and the start of production for season four.

The break meant Fred could just be a dog and not a superhero for a little while. He’d like that!

Hmmmm, he thought. Maybe I’ll even chase a few cats up a few trees!

4

Meanwhile, back home in the United States, Jenny’s twelve-year-old niece, Abby, was filling in for Jenny and the show’s biggest stars at the Coastal Animal Shelter’s annual gala.

The Wilford, Connecticut, charity held its major fundraiser of the year in a large party tent set up on the beach across the street from their shelter. Several dogs, wearing adopt me vests, were being led by volunteers through the crowd, hoping to find their furever homes.

Abby had brought Tater Tot, a puppy rescued from the shelter, with her to the very posh event. Tater was another “wags-to-riches” story. After appearing in a few episodes, he had quickly become one of Dog Squad’s most popular new cast members.

“Hiya, folks!” Tater yipped as Abby stepped up to a brightly lit podium with the puppy cradled in her arms.

The audience went “Awwwww!” Tater’s yips were awfully cute.

Abby was at the event to accept a Pawscar Award for all the good work being done by Jenny Yen’s Second Chance Ranch. That was where Abby and her aunt rescued animals, trained some for film and stage, and found loving homes for all sorts of dogs, cats, and other animals.

“On behalf of my aunt Jenny and all the dogs in Dog Squad, I want to thank everybody at the Coastal Animal Shelter for doing what you do. I just talked to my aunt in Paris, where they’re working on this season’s final show, and she says, ‘Thank you’ and ‘Merci,’ because, like I said, she’s in France.”

The audience laughed.

Tater barked. Repeatedly. Abby nodded and stared at the puppy as if she was picking up some sort of mental message.

“Tater says that if it weren’t for you guys at the Coastal Animal Shelter, he never would’ve found a home with us and the millions of fans who invite Dog Squad into their homes all around the globe.”

“It’s true!” Tater said to an adoptable corgi named Meatball. “I said all that. Abby’s a pet psychic!”

“Ha!” scoffed Meatball. “Says who?”

“Me! Abby’s the real deal. We do mental telepathy together all the time.”

“Sure you do, kid,” said Meatball, waddling off with his handler. “Sure you do.”

Abby went on to discuss how the Second Chance Ranch would be working with the Coastal Animal Shelter to help find homes for all the puppies who’d been stranded by Hurricane Adelaide.

When she said it, all the very well dressed ladies and gentlemen in the audience applauded heartily.

All except one.

The extremely wealthy Miss Kitty Bitteridge, who was seated at a table near the back of the tent.

She was only pretending to smile.

5

Kitty Bitteridge was having a horrible time at the charity gala.

The billionaire’s sprawling estate bumped right up against the Second Chance Ranch’s property. Yes, they were “next-door” neighbors, but the Bitteridge family had lived in Connecticut far longer than Jenny and Abby. The Bitteridges were also far wealthier and far more important.

And yet, no one had ever thought to give Kitty Bitteridge a Pawscar Award at an over-the-top charity event in a circus-sized wedding tent! No one!

Because, as Miss Bitteridge knew all too well, there were too many dog people on the board of the Coastal Animal Shelter. She hated dog people. Oh yes, she knew that America was a dog country. But Kitty didn’t care. She was a cat person. Why? Mostly because they reminded her of herself.

Elegant. Sophisticated. Aloof. Clever. And cunning!

If this were Switzerland, Austria, or Turkey, where cats outnumbered dogs three to one, Kitty Bitteridge would be the hero receiving all the accolades, not the foolish dog-trick trainers up the road at the Second Chance Ranch. Why, if Kitty had her way, no one would give that ranch a second glance. They’d learn that cats were far superior to dogs.

And soon, she would have her way.

Dimitri Kuznetsov, her chauffeur, would help. Dimitri had a head full of curls, a bushy walrus mustache, and a tuxedo, complete with a ruffled shirt, that had last been in fashion sometime in the early 1970s.

Under the Cover