Ever since receiving her autocratic Aunt Peg's gift of a Standard Poodle--and the fence around her suburban Connecticut yard--Melanie Travis has found herself edging gingerly into the world of dog shows. When Jenny Maguire, who runs the dog-handling class Melanie's enrolled in, loses her own dog, Ziggy, in a car accident, Melanie offers condolences, little realizing that within a week Jenny will be dead as well, a casualty of chronic arsenic poisoning. But then comes an even stranger surprise: Ziggy isn't dead at all; Jenny had been boarding him at a friend's, planning to pick him up in two weeks. Why would she have faked her prize dog's death, and what happened to make her plans fall through? Poking around in the mystery in between attending training classes and chastely resisting the embraces of persistent beau Sam Driver, Melanie finds a troubled marriage, a history of family abuse, and a bizarre romance. But it's only a second case of poisoning--at a dog show, naturally--that will finally point her toward the culprit. Melanie's second adventure (A Pedigree to Die For, 1995) provides more low-key entertainment for dog fanciers even while gently suggesting that poodles are never quite Woman's Best Friend.