Hero is a police search and rescue dog partnered with Ben Landry’s dad. A Labrador who earned his name when he rescued lost young Ben on a cold night seven years ago, Hero is retiring from the force to work for a security company, but those plans change when Ben’s dad tells him he’s old enough to be responsible for a dog and Hero will be his.
Ben, an avid baseball player, spends a lot of time hitting balls with Hero and his best friend, Noah — Hero loves chasing the balls — which is how they find a puppy showing signs of abuse. Hero refuses to leave the pup, who Ben names Scout, so he takes the pup home. His parents decide Scout has to go to the animal shelter, but to everyone’s surprise, Hero defies his trainer and former partner, blocking the door so Ben’s dad can’t leave with the fearful little dog. Trusting the police dog’s judgment, Ben’s parents relent and Scout stays.
Hero starts teaching Scout by example, and the pup soaks it up, but the appearance of a black SUV on their street one night frightens him terribly, and Scout later reacts badly to an unnerving man at Noah’s dad’s car lot. The family veterinarian confirms Officer Landry’s suspicions that Scout was a bait dog in a fight ring, and he doubts his son can devote enough time to a troubled dog. But Ben — and Hero — convince him otherwise.
At school, a new student named Jack, who’s also an excellent baseball player, constantly challenges Ben to compete with him, going so far as to deliberately hit Ben with a fastball. Jack moved to town with his mother because his parents are divorcing, and Ben knows Jack is lonely, but he’s so obnoxious.
One night Ben comes home from a party at Noah’s house and finds both Hero and Scout missing. The boys search for them without luck … until Hero returns home with injuries the next day. But Scout is still missing, Hero knows where he is, and the older dog won’t rest until his little buddy is rescued.
What follows is a nail-biting battle for Ben, Noah, and Hero to rescue Scout from an evil dogfighting ring run by cruelly ruthless men who live outside the law. While Hero is at the vet fighting for his life, Ben discovers another reason Jack is angry — his beloved dog, Holly, just died. Jack has lost everything … but Ben and Hero have a few ideas about how to fix that.
The first book in Jennifer Li Shotz’s Hero series is aimed at children ages 8 – 12, although dog lovers of any age will enjoy the story of two admirable young men and their stalwart four-legged crusader whose name personifies his character.