As the group sets up for lunch, Misty and Brock ask Ash about the bread they gave to him. He says it is in his backpack, but when he checks for it, he realizes it vanished. Brock then spots several three-toed footprints in the ground, and the group decides to follow them. In a nearby town, Nurse Joy and her Chansey have finished their groceries and decide to get some ice cream from a waiting truck. They set the groceries down on a bench while they order, but the basket has caught the attention of Team Rocket. Wobbuffet pops out of his Poké Ball unannounced, but Jessie quickly recalls him. James soon lowers Meowth down on a fishing pole, and he goes on to steal some ham. The trio runs away just as Nurse Joy finishes her mint chocolate ice cream. The evil trio are excitedly looking at the ham as red eyes appear in the bushes ominously. They begin to fight over the ham when it rolls away and then seems to disappear. Meowth blames Wobbuffet for eating the ham, but he claims he is innocent. Team Rocket are forced to hide in an alleyway as Nurse Joy appears around the corner. Joy quickly spots the empty ham bag and inspects it. Ash’s group also show up and they notice Nurse Joy seems to have a problem. She reveals her ham was mysteriously stolen and Ash replies that his bag was also taken. Misty expresses her suspicions that Team Rocket is to blame, but Joy admits that she didn't see the culprits. Noticing more of the same footprints, the three Trainers run off to find the mystery thief and Joy wishes them luck and stays behind. In the alley. Team Rocket plans to follow the twerps and out-thieve the secret Pokémon.
Ash and his friends soon find themselves in the middle of the dense forest and decide to end their chase. The clearing’s good wind direction gives Brock an idea, so the group decides to set up camp. After cooking some sausages - one of which happens to be made of carved wood - the gang place their decoy on a plate and waits for the Pokémon to be drawn by the scent. As night falls, the group wait behind some shrubs and watch as the wood sausage is whisked away by a black shadow. Misty is distressed because it escaped their grasp and it is too dark to find it again, but Brock says that since it has fake food, it will return for the real thing if it is hungry. Ash, Brock, and Misty wait patiently, but fearfully for the return of the yet unknown Pokémon. Eventually the scary red eyes appear in the bushes once again, this time as a pack. As the menacing Pokémon surround the grou, Ash’s Pokédex reveals the Pokémon to be a pack of Houndour. Brock remarks that the decoy was a bad idea, and Ash spots the Alpha Houndour on a cliff above them. Ash is determined to get his backpack, so he calls on some assistance. He and his friends send out five of their Pokémon, Pikachu, Cyndaquil, Chikorita, Onix and Psyduck also makes an unexpected arrival. The tough battle appears to end after Cyndaquil's Flamethrower startles the Houndour, but the Alpha Houndour jumps down to challenge Ash and Pikachu in a one-on-one match. The two Pokémon have a Leer stare down until Houndour uses its fire and Pikachu darts around it with Quick Attack. Pikachu’s first approach fails, and he is forced to dodge a Flamethrower. Houndour narrowly evades Pikachu's Thunder attack, but is left clearly exhausted. The Houndour overhear some distant cries and they use Smog to escape. Everyone shields their eyes and mouths from the fumes before chasing after the pack.
At the Houndour's den, a wild Golem has left one of the Houndour injured. Houndour's friends leap into the squabble, but their fire attacks prove useless against Golem's tough exterior. Ash and his friends watch the scene unfold from a cliff and quickly realize that the stolen belongings were to help feed the Houndour's sick member. Assessing the situation, Ash jumps in the way to protect the leader who was about to be knocked out by Golem. The troublesome Golem runs away after Chikorita uses a single Razor Leaf attack. Ash and his friends soon turn their attention to the injured Houndour. Ash manages to spray some Super Potion on Houndour's leg, but it is still in a dire situation. The group soon realizes that the wounded Houndour must get to a Pokémon Center, and Ash is adamant that he can carry it all the way there. At this point, Team Rocket finally catches up and recites their motto to ruin the fun. Jessie and James send out all of their Pokémon, but the pack proves too intimidating and they run off. Meanwhile, Ash and his friends head on their way. Despite Ash's burden with the Pokémon, Misty and Brock lose stamina first. Ash soon tires, though the pack shows up to carry the wounded Houndour.
At the Center, Nurse Joy rushes the Pokémon to emergency and eventually returns stating that it will be fine. Team Rocket returns in their Meowth balloon and net most of the Houndour. Ash, Pikachu and the lead Houndour gives chase. The pack leader has Pikachu hop on its back, and together they leap into the air. Houndour's Flamethrower burns the net and frees its friends, and Pikachu uses Thunderbolt to send Team Rocket blasting off. The Houndour are grateful and overwhelm Ash with their continuous licking. The following day, Ash and his friends are glad to see that Houndour is now feeling better, with only a bandaged leg. Brock offers it a sausage to helps its recovery. As Ash and his friends continue towards Goldenrod City, the Houndour pack gives them a resounding howl to thank them. Elsewhere, Team Rocket find themselves suspended on a branch on a cliff as Wobbuffet watches from the ledge above.