Evil Breeding

Evil Breeding by Susan Conant

Book: Evil Breeding by Susan Conant Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susan Conant
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    The noon news on TV showed a photo of the Gardner vault, which was as I remembered it: a quaint little flat-roofed bungalow that sat, together with other equally darling cottages, near the shore of a lake. If I hadn’t known who already lived in the houses, I’d have been eager to move in. As I’d forgotten, though, the Gardner family vault had one feature I disliked, a decorative frieze that ran just below the roof and looked something like an exterior version of a wallpaper border. The repeating motif was angular and, I am positive, Greek. Still, the pattern reminded me of swastikas.
    According to the TV report, Peter Motherway had last been seen alive the previous evening at the cargo area of Logan Airport. The TV showed footage of the long, bleak road that leads to Logan’s cargo terminals. According to the newscaster, the victim had worked in his family’s dog-breeding business and had been at the airport to ship three puppies. After accepting the puppies for shipment, airline employees had seen Motherway leave the building. Sometime thereafter, he had been strangled. His body had been found by a bird-watching group soon after eight o’clock this morning. Authorities were pursuing their investigations.
    I suppressed the uncharitable thought that if Peter Motherway had been as unpleasant to other people as he’d been to me, it was no wonder someone had strangled him. Instead, I mulled over the matter of the family dog-breeding business and the shipment of the three puppies. If there’s one thing that’s ethical, reputable dog breeding is not, it’s a business. My friend and mentor, Janet Switzer, was the prototype of a good breeder. And not just in the sense that her kennel had produced Rowdy! Janet bred selectively and seldom, almost always when she wanted a puppy for herself. Before her retirement, she’d worked to support herself and her dogs. Once in a while she shipped a puppy to someone in another part of the country, but only to someone she knew: another careful breeder, for example, or someone who’d previously bought a Puppy from her. I couldn’t imagine circumstances in which Janet would ship three puppies. The conventional term for someone like Janet, or for that matter, for someone like my late mother, is “hobby breeder.” Hobby? Dear God! A hobby is a leisure pursuit. Whittling. Playing the glockenspiel. Making doll dresses out of pastel facial tissues. Tropical fish might be a hobby, I guess. But dogs eat every second of what would otherwise be leisure time, and they devour your income as well. Geraldine R. Dodge was about the only person I could think of who’d easily been able to afford the “hobby.”
    The media might have been guilty of misrepresentation. Still, I couldn’t rid myself of the image of those large kennel buildings separated from Mr. Motherway’s house and barn by a long stretch of field. How many dogs did they hold? Geraldine R. Dodge, I reminded myself, had luxurious kennel space for a hundred and fifty. For breakfast, her dogs ate oatmeal mixed with fresh eggs from Giralda chickens and fresh milk from Giralda cows. To maintain the manor house and kennels, Giralda Farms employed more than sixty people. By my standards, Mr. Motherway was loaded, but he was no Rockefeller. M. Hartley Dodge, Jr., had alarmed his mother by pursuing a passion for aviation; if he’d returned alive from that summer in Europe, he’d probably have joined his father’s business. He certainly wouldn’t have been drafted to serve as his mother’s kennel help. I’d scrubbed and disinfected the family kennels. I’d exercised, groomed, and trained our dogs. But our visitors met me; no one assumed I was a hired hand.
    Dog breeding as a true business takes several different forms. Wholesale commercial breeders, otherwise known as puppy-mill operators, mass-produce puppies sold to dog brokers for resale in pet shops. Puppy-mill operators and brokers are the scum of the world of purebred

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