Smells Like Dog


By Suzanne Selfors

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Meet Homer Pudding, an ordinary farm boy who’s got big dreams-to follow in the footsteps of his famous treasure-hunting uncle. But when Uncle Drake mysteriously disappears, Homer inherits two things: a lazy, droopy dog with no sense of smell, and a mystery.

Why would his uncle call this clumsy dog his “most treasured possession?” And why did he put a gold coin on the dog’s collar?

And who will continue Uncle Drake’s quest-to find the most coveted pirate treasure in the world?

Join Homer, his sister Gwendolyn, and Dog on an adventure that will test their wits and courage as they leave their peaceful farm and head into a world where ruthless treasure hunters hide around every corner. Where they discover that Dog has a hidden talent and that treasure might be closer than they ever imagined…


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Table of Contents

A Sneak Peek of Smells Like Treasure

A Sneak Peek of The Sasquatch Escape

Copyright Page

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Dear Reader,

The following story is a dog story, but it is not, I repeat, NOT, a sad dog story. I hate sad dog stories. I bet you do too. How many times have you picked up a book about a dog and just when you start to fall in love with the dog it falls down a well, or gets hit by a car, or somebody shoots it? Then you cry quietly in your bedroom because you don't know if the dog is going to live or die and it eats you up inside because there's nothing worse than not knowing if a dog is going to live or die. And you don't want to go downstairs to dinner because your eyes are all puffy from crying, which is very embarrassing. I hate it when that happens.

So I promise you that you don't have to worry because the dog in this story does not die. But that's not to say he doesn't have many harrowing and exciting adventures.

This is a happy dog story so you don't have to hide in your bedroom to read it. You can read it in the grocery store, or on the school bus, or in the very back of the classroom during a boring multiplication lesson if you're extra careful not to get caught by your teacher. And if any tears fall from your eyes they will be tears of laughter and joy, and those kinds of tears are never embarrassing.

Happy reading.




Breakfast with the Puddings

What Homer Pudding didn't know on that breezy Sunday morning, as he carried a pail of fresh goat milk across the yard, was that his life was about to change.

In a big way.

What he did know was this: That the country sky was its usual eggshell blue, that the air was its usual springtime fresh, and that his chores were their usual boring, boring, boring.

For how exciting can it be cleaning up after goats? And that's what Homer had done for most of his twelve years. Each year his chore list grew longer, taking more time away from the thing that he'd rather do. The one thing. The only thing. But it was not playing football, or riding a bike. Not swimming, or fishing, or building a fort.

If he didn't have to rake goat poop, or change straw bedding, or chase goats out of the flower bed, Homer Winslow Pudding would have more time to dream about the day when he'd become a famous treasure hunter like his uncle.

"Daydreaming doesn't have any place on a farm," his father often told him. "There's too much work to be done."

But Homer dreamed anyway.

Mrs. Pudding waved from the kitchen window. She needed the milk for her morning coffee. Homer picked up his pace, his rubber boots kicking up fallen cherry blossoms. As he stumbled across a gnarled root, a white wave splashed over the side of the bucket. Warm goat milk ran down his sleeve and dribbled onto the grass where it was quickly lapped up by the farm's border collies.

"Careful there," Mr. Pudding called as he strode up the driveway, gravel crunching beneath his heavy work boots. He tucked the Sunday newspaper under his arm. "Your mother will be right disappointed if she don't get her milk."

Homer almost fell over, his legs tangled in a mass of licking dogs. "Go on," he said. The dogs obeyed. The big one, named Max, scratched at a flea that was doing morning calisthenics on his neck. Max was a working dog, like the others, trained to herd the Puddings' goats. He even worked on Sundays while city dogs slept in or went on picnics. Every day is a workday on a farm.

And that's where this story begins—on the Pudding Goat Farm. A prettier place you'd be hard pressed to find. If you perched at the top of one of the cherry trees you'd see a big barn that sagged in the middle as if a giant had sat on it, a little farmhouse built from river rocks, and an old red truck. Look farther and you'd see an endless tapestry of rolling hills, each painted a different hue of spring green. "Heaven on earth," Mrs. Pudding often said. Homer didn't agree. Surely in heaven there wouldn't be so many things to fix and clean and haul.

The dogs stayed outside while Mr. Pudding and Homer slipped off their boots and went into the kitchen. Because the Pudding family always ate breakfast together at the kitchen table, it was the perfect place to share news and ask questions like, Whatcha gonna do at school today? or Who's gonna take a bath tonight? or Why is that dead squirrel lying on the table?

"Because I'm gonna stuff it."

"Gwendolyn Maybel Pudding. How many times have I told you not to put dead things on the kitchen table?" Mr. Pudding asked as he hung his cap on a hook.

"I don't know," Gwendolyn grumbled, tossing her long brown hair.

Homer set the milk pail on the counter, then washed his hands at the sink. His little brother, who everybody called Squeak, but whose legal name was Pip, tugged at Homer's pant leg. "Hi, Homer."

Homer looked down at the wide-eyed, freckled face. "Hi, Squeak," he said, patting his brother's head. Squeak may have been too young to understand Homer's dreams, but he was always happy to listen to stories about sunken pirate ships or lost civilizations.

"Get that squirrel off the table," Mr. Pudding said, also washing his hands at the sink.

Gwendolyn picked up the squirrel by its tail. The stiff body swung back and forth like the arm of a silent metronome. "I don't see why it's such a problem."

"It's dead, that's why it's a problem. I eat on that table so I don't want dead things lying on it."

Confrontations between Gwendolyn and Mr. Pudding had become a daily event in the Pudding household, ever since last summer when Gwendolyn had turned fifteen and had gotten all moody. In the same breath she might laugh, then burst into tears, then sink into a brooding silence. She befuddled Homer. But most girls befuddled Homer.

He took his usual seat at the end of the pine plank table, hoping that the argument wouldn't last too long. He wanted to finish his chores so he could get back to reading his new map. It had arrived yesterday in a cardboard tube from the Map of the Month Club, a Christmas gift from Uncle Drake. Homer had stayed up late studying the map, but as every clever treasure hunter knows, a map can be read a thousand times and still hide secrets. He'd studied an Incan temple map eighty-two times before discovering the hidden passage below the temple's well. "Excellent job," his uncle Drake had said. "I would never have found that at your age. You're a natural born treasure hunter."

But the new map would have to wait because the morning argument was just gathering steam. Clutching the squirrel, Gwendolyn peered over the table's edge. It wasn't that she was short. It was just that she almost always sat slumped real low in her chair, like a melted person, and all anyone saw during meals was the top of her head. "You eat dead things all the time and you eat them on this table so I don't see the difference." She glared at her father.

"Now Gwendolyn, if you're going to talk back to your father, please wait until we've finished eating," Mrs. Pudding said. She stood at the stove stirring the porridge. "Let's try to have breakfast without so much commotion, like a normal family."

"And without dead squirrels," Mr. Pudding added, taking his seat at the head of the table. "Or dead frogs, or dead mice, or dead anything."

"But I've got to practice. If I don't learn how to make dead animals look like they ain't dead, then how will I get a job as a Royal Taxidermist at the Museum of Natural History?"

"Gwendolyn said ain't," Squeak said, climbing next to Homer. "That's bad."

Mr. Pudding shook his head—a slow kind of shake that was heavy with worry. "Royal Taxidermist for the Museum of Natural History. What kind of job is that? Way off in The City, with all that noise and pollution. With all that crime and vagrancy. That's no place for a Pudding."

"Uncle Drake moved to The City," Gwendolyn said, emphasizing her point with a dramatic sweep of the squirrel. "And he's doing right fine."

"How do you know?" Mr. Pudding asked with a scowl. "We don't even know where he lives in The City. All he's given us is a post office box for an address. And we haven't heard a word from him since his last visit. Not a letter. Not a postcard. What makes you think he's doing right fine?"

"No news is good news," Mrs. Pudding said. She set bowls of porridge in front of Mr. Pudding and Squeak, then set a bowl for Gwendolyn. "Now stop arguing, you two, and eat your breakfast. And put away that squirrel."

Gwendolyn stomped her foot, then tucked the squirrel under her chair.

As Mr. Pudding stirred his porridge, steam rose from the bowl and danced beneath his chin. "I told him not to go. The City's no place for a Pudding. That's what I told him. But he said he had important matters to tend to. Said he had to find out about that pirate, Stinky somebody or other."

"Rumpold Smeller," Homer corrected, suddenly interested in the conversation. "Duke Rumpold Smeller of Estonia became a very famous pirate. His treasure has never been found. Uncle Drake wants to be the first person to find it."

Mr. Pudding groaned. Gwendolyn rolled her eyes.

"Eat your porridge, Homer," Mrs. Pudding said, setting an overflowing bowl in front of him. Then she planted a smooch on the top of his curly-haired head.

Mr. Pudding motioned to his wife. Though she bent close to him and though he whispered in her ear, everyone at the table could hear. "Why'd you give him so much? Don't you think he's getting kind of… chunky?"

She put her hands on her hips. "He's a growing boy. He needs to eat." Then she smiled sweetly at Homer.

Now, Mrs. Pudding loved all three of her children equally, like any good mother. But love can be expressed in different ways. For instance, Mrs. Pudding knew that her eldest child had a mind of her own, so she gave Gwendolyn lots of room to be an individual. Mrs. Pudding knew that her youngest child wanted to be helpful, so she gave Squeak lots of encouragement and praise. And Mrs. Pudding knew, and it broke her heart to know, that her middle child was friendless, so she gave Homer extra helpings of food and more kisses than anyone else in the house.

"Growing boy," Mr. Pudding grumbled. "How's he ever gonna fit in if he can't run as fast as the other boys? If all he talks about is treasure hunting? It's my brother's fault, filling his head with all that nonsense."

It's not nonsense, Homer thought, shoveling porridge into his mouth. So what if he didn't fit in with the other boys? All they cared about was fighting and getting into trouble. He pulled the bowl closer. And so what if he was chunky? A true treasure hunter would never pass up the chance to eat a warm breakfast. Near starvation while stranded on a deserted island had forced more than a few treasure hunters to eat their own toes.

"I like twesure," Squeak said, porridge dribbling down his chin.

"I like treasure, too," Homer said.

Mr. Pudding drummed his calloused fingers on the table. "Could we go just one meal without talking about finding treasure? Or stuffing dead animals? I don't know where I went wrong with you children."

Mrs. Pudding poured herself a cup of coffee, then added a ladle of fresh milk. "There's nothing wrong with having interests."

"Interests?" Mr. Pudding scratched the back of his weathered neck. "Stuffing dead animals and finding lost treasure—what kind of interests are those? Why can't they be interested in goat farming? Is that too much to ask? Who's gonna run this farm when I'm too old to run it?"

"Me," Squeak said. "I like goats."

As sweet as that sounded, it gave Mr. Pudding no peace of mind. Squeak was only five years old. Yesterday he had wanted to be a dragon-slayer.

"Goat farming's honest, solid work," Mr. Pudding said, dumping brown sugar on his porridge. "You children don't understand the importance of honest, solid work."

Gwendolyn rolled her eyes again. Then she sank deeper, until her bottom was hanging off the edge of her chair. Homer was bored by the conversation again. He tried to dig a hole in his porridge but the sides kept caving in—like trying to dig for treasure in mud.

Now, Mr. Pudding loved all three of his children equally, like any good father. But he didn't believe that giving them extra room to be individuals, or giving extra encouragement or extra food and kisses, did much good. Solid work meant a solid life, which in turn meant a roof, and a bed, and food on the table. What could be more important than that?

Mr. Pudding pushed his empty bowl aside, then unrolled the Sunday City Paper. "Wouldn't surprise me one bit if I started reading and found out that my brother had been robbed or had fallen into a manhole. I'm sure something terrible's gonna happen to him. The City's a terrible place."

As he read, muttering and shaking his head, the children finished their breakfast. Gwendolyn carried her bowl to the sink, as did Homer.

"Mom, when I'm done cleaning the stalls, can I go read my new map?" Homer asked.

"Of course." Mrs. Pudding kissed Homer's soft cheek, then whispered in his ear. "I believe in you, Homer. I know you'll find treasure one day."

Homer looked into his mother's brown eyes with their big flecks of gold—like coins half-buried in the sand. When he became a famous treasure hunter, he'd give all the jewels to her so she could wear a different necklace every day and buy new dresses and shoes. And one of those fancy crowns that beauty queens wear.

But chores came first. He started for the kitchen door when Mr. Pudding waved the newspaper and hollered, "I knew it! I knew something terrible would happen to him!"


The Untimely Passing of Uncle Drake

Mr. Pudding's hands shook so violently that the paper slipped from his grip. "Page three," he said. "It's on page three."

Mrs. Pudding found the alarming article and read it to her family. The article is included here. You may need to read it six or seven times before the horror fully sinks in.

Mrs. Pudding set the newspaper on the table. Choking silence filled the kitchen. Homer couldn't breathe. He stood stunned, watching as a fat tear rolled down his father's cheek.

"I told him not to go," Mr. Pudding muttered.

Between her own tears, Mrs. Pudding tried to comfort her husband. Squeak started crying too, even though he didn't understand what had happened.

Gwendolyn grabbed the newspaper. She stared at the article. "That doesn't make one bit of sense. Tortoises don't eat people. That can't be true."

"Of course it's true," Mr. Pudding said, wiping his nose on his sleeve. "It's in the paper."

"Poor, poor Drake," Mrs. Pudding said. "He was such a nice man."

Mr. Pudding's sorrow swelled into outrage. "He was a dreamer. Searching all the time for things that aren't real. Look where it got him." He turned his reddened face to Homer. "Do you see, Homer? This is what happens to people who waste their lives looking for treasure. He'd be right fine if he'd stayed on the farm like he was supposed to. Do you see?"

But Homer didn't see. The kitchen had turned blurry. Blackness closed in, bubbling and churning like the inside of a tortoise's stomach. Homer backed into the corner. Uncle Drake was dead. DEAD. There'd be no more late nights talking about Egyptian tombs or Babylonian temples. No more trips to the map store to search through dusty boxes. No more decoder rings or metal detectors or titanium shovels under the Christmas tree. Homer slid down the wall and sat on the cold kitchen floor. Why? his mind cried. Why, why, why?

"This is a terrible shock," Mrs. Pudding told her husband, leading him toward the stairway. "You should go lie down. I'll bring you some tea."

"I don't want any more talk about treasure," Mr. Pudding said.

"Yes, dear."

"No one in this family is going to become a treasure hunter. I won't allow it. It's too dangerous."

"Yes, dear. Go lie down. Gwendolyn and Squeak will take care of the goats and the chickens."

For the first time since anyone could remember, Mr. Pudding did not finish his morning chores. He climbed the stairs to his bedroom, mumbling with each sad step.

"Mom," Gwendolyn said. "Something's not right. Tortoises don't eat people. I know because there's a picture of a stuffed tortoise in the Museum of Natural History's guidebook and it says that it ate bugs and water plants."

"We can talk about that later." Mrs. Pudding pulled Squeak's jacket off its hook and handed it to Gwendolyn. "Go feed the chickens and let the goats into the pasture. And keep an eye on your little brother."

After the front door closed, Mrs. Pudding knelt beside Homer. Of all the people who would be saddened by Drake Pudding's death, her middle child would grieve hardest. "I know," she whispered, hugging Homer to her chest. "I know, I know, I know," she cooed. "You loved your uncle with all your heart. And he loved you most of all."

He had. Everyone knew that.

Homer may not have looked anything like his tall, athletic uncle. He may not have been a rugged outdoorsman or a born risk-taker. But in Homer, Uncle Drake had found a kindred soul—a dreamer who preferred the world of myths and mysteries to the real world.

Homer buried his face in his mother's apron. "Why?" he asked. "Why did he have to die?"

Mrs. Pudding tightened her hug. "I don't know, sweetie. I wish I knew. I wish I could make it go away, but I can't. We'll all just have to feel sad for a while. For a long while."

And that's when someone pounded on the kitchen door.


A Snooty Delivery

When Mrs. Pudding opened the door, she found a short man dressed in a gray pinstriped suit standing on her porch. The man removed his black hat, revealing a shiny shaved head. "Good morning. My name is Mr. Twaddle. I have a delivery for the Pudding family. Are you Mrs. Pudding?"

"Yes. What sort of delivery?"

"This will explain everything, ma'am." His face was taut with seriousness as he handed her a white envelope.

Mrs. Pudding opened the envelope and pulled out a letter. Then she read it aloud so Homer could hear.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Pudding,

The law office of Snooty and Snooty regrets to inform you that your relative, Mr. Drake Pudding, has been declared dead due to the carnivorous appetite of a reptilian beast. As the sole heirs of Mr. Pudding's estate, all of his worldly possessions are hereto delivered to you on this Sunday morning.

Yours respectfully,

Mr. T. Snooty and Mr. C. Snooty,


"Here you go," Mr. Twaddle said, holding out a pair of brown loafers.

Homer crept toward the door as his mother took the shoes. "What are these?" she asked.

"Drake Pudding's worldly possessions."

"A pair of shoes?"

"Yes. They were pulled off his feet before…" He grimaced. "Well, anyway, they are the only items that he left behind." Mr. Twaddle plunked his hat on his head, then held out a clipboard. "If you would be so kind as to sign on the dotted line then I can be on my way. I'm very busy, you see. And I'm sure you'd like some privacy on this sad occasion." He tapped his two-toned shoe.

"Surely my brother-in-law left more than a pair of shoes? What about clothes or furniture? What about a bicycle or some dishes?"

"What about his maps and books?" Homer asked. He stood close to his mother. A faint scent of leather rose from his uncle's shoes.

"I'm sorry to say he didn't even leave his body. Just the shoes." Mr. Twaddle pulled a shiny fountain pen from his jacket. "I have other Snooty and Snooty business to attend to. If you'll sign, ma'am."

Homer held back tears as the words didn't even leave his body echoed off the kitchen walls. He stared at the loafers. They had no laces or ankle support or leech protection—definitely not the type of shoes his uncle would wear while hunting for treasure. He must have been out for a casual stroll in the park. Who would have thought that such a horrid thing could happen during a casual stroll?

After Mrs. Pudding signed for the shoes, Mr. Twaddle collected the clipboard and pen. "My condolences, ma'am," he said with a stiff bow. "Good day." Then he hurried toward a black sedan that was parked in the driveway. Max, Gus, and Lulu circled the automobile, sniffing eagerly. "Shoo," Mr. Twaddle said. Max jumped at the back door, scratching it with his paws. "Shoo." Max scratched harder. "Ma'am, would you be so kind as to call off your dogs?"

"Max, Gus, Lulu, come here." But the dogs didn't obey. "That's strange," Mrs. Pudding said. "Max! Gus! Lulu! Whatever is the matter with them? Do you have something in your car?"

Mr. Twaddle smacked the clipboard against his pinstriped pant leg. "I'm in such a hurry I almost forgot." He ran back to the front porch. "My apologies, ma'am, but I have a second letter." He pulled an envelope from his suit pocket. "This one is addressed to Homer W. Pudding."


"Yes. Is he here?"

Homer's chest tightened as he stepped forward. "I'm Homer." He pushed his curly bangs from his eyes. Sure enough, his name was right on the envelope.

"Go ahead," his mother said gently. "Read it."

With a trembling hand, Homer opened the letter and read it aloud.

Dear Homer W. Pudding,

The law office of Snooty and Snooty regrets to inform you that your late uncle Drake left an item in your care, which he referred to as his "most treasured possession." According to the laws of inheritance, if you decide that you do not want the item, you have five days to return it to our office, whereby the item will be disposed of.

Under no circumstances will we accept the item's return after the five-day grace period.

If you choose to keep the item, any trouble that the item causes is your responsibility, though we will be happy to offer legal representation at a premium fee if you should incur any lawsuits because of the item.

Yours respectfully,

Mr. T. Snooty and Mr. C. Snooty,


Mrs. Pudding smiled warily. "Oh, Homer, isn't that nice? Your uncle left you an… item."

Homer nodded. Could it be his uncle's gold-panning kit? Maybe it was his night vision goggles or his echolocating gyroscope. Something, anything that would remind him of his uncle. He looked hopefully into Mr. Twaddle's squinty gray eyes.

"You sure you understand the five-day clause?" Mr. Twaddle asked. "Because we won't take the item back on the sixth day, no matter how much you beg or plead."

"Beg or plead?" Mrs. Pudding asked while wringing her hands. "Why ever would we beg or plead?"

"Oh, no reason. No reason at all." He coughed. "So, if you'll just sign here then I can be on my way. Other business, as I mentioned." He handed the clipboard and pen to Homer, who signed his full name, Homer Winslow Pudding. "Fine. I'll get the item for you."

Max, Gus and Lulu ran around the car, wagging their tails and barking. "Shoo," Mr. Twaddle said as he scurried toward the sedan. Then he opened the passenger door. Homer and Mrs. Pudding leaned over the porch railing, trying to see into the car's dark interior.

Two eyes stared back.

"Come on," the man said. He reached in. "Come on." He tugged, then tugged again. "Come on, come on." He tugged some more, then stepped aside.

A long nose emerged from the darkness, followed by the saddest face Homer had ever seen.


Droopy Dog

In the beginning of this book, a promise was made that this would NOT be a sad dog story. Nothing was said, however, about the dog not looking sad. That's an entirely different situation.

The dog slid out of the automobile, then just stood there, staring at the ground.

"What's the matter with that dog?" Mrs. Pudding asked as she and Homer walked down the porch steps.

The dog looked nothing like the Puddings' farm dogs. Its legs were way too short, its brown and white body was way too long, and its skin was a couple sizes too big. A pair of brown ears hung to the dirt like heavy curtains. A pair of brown eyes sank into fleshy folds. Homer had never seen anything like it.

Mrs. Pudding searched for the right word. "Why's that dog so… so… so droopy?"


  • * "Selfors offers up an adventure tale that features a humorous, high-stakes mystery and a lovable hero...Peppered with funny dialogue, this joyous romp is a page-turning adventure that will appeal to enthusiastic and reluctant readers alike."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
  • "A fantastic tale in every good sense of the word...Homer W. Pudding: my kind of hero."—Rebecca Stead, author of Newbery Medal winner When You Reach Me
  • "Fans who enjoy the editorializing and over-the-top humor in Wendelin Van Draanen's Gecko and Sticky series will take pleasure in this misfit duo's quirky adventures."—Booklist
  • "Full of fantastic characters (eccentric adventurers, sinister and surprising villains, and one droopy but very special dog), delightful humor, and wonderful adventures, this book is a treasure. Every page made me smile."—Sarah Beth Durst, author of Into the Wild and Out of the Wild
  • "Join a delightful band of misfits on a rollicking adventure... Full of fantasy, fun and humorous dialogue, this will attract dog lovers, mystery enthusiasts, adventure addicts, and reluctant readers. A thoroughly enjoyable read."—VOYA

On Sale
Apr 12, 2011
Page Count
384 pages

Suzanne Selfors

About the Author

Suzanne Selfors is a national best selling author of the Ever After High School Stories series, the Imaginary Veterinary series, the Smells Like Dog series, and many other books. She’s earned five Junior Library Guild Awards and a WA State Book Award. She’s been a Kid’s Indie Pick, a Scholastic Book Fair bestseller, and been included in Bank Street’s 100th Edition of Best Children’s Books, Smithsonian Magazine’s Notable Children’s Books, and Amazon’s Best Children’s Books.

She lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest where rain falls like music and horses are beloved.

Learn more about this author