When my dog woke me up at three in the morning, I couldn’t have known why.  Who knows the mind of a dog?  I certainly didn’t.  She whined and whined from her kennel until I finally had to get out of bed and go check on her.  I got to the living room to find…nothing.

She had seemingly whined at the nothingness in an empty room.

So, of course, I started to paint every homicidal maniac from every horror flick I’ve ever seen into the dark.  Restless spirits, demonic visages and monsters from an era before Man were all tucked away, watching me from the shadows, lit as I was by the ambient light of a flashing radio clock, like I was an appetizer at a Things From Nightmare convention.

I quickly turned on the light in the living room, followed by the lights in the den and kitchen.  I wandered around the house turning on every light in every room (except the basement.  I figured that, like Mikey did when he left the plate of gold untouched in deference to One-Eyed Willie in The Goonies, if I respected the boundaries of Whatever might be down there, they might not come upstairs) until I was certain that it was just me and the dog in the house.

Just then she whined again from the living room.

I don’t know why, but I tiptoed back, slowly making my way and peeking around corners before rounding them like a careful member of a SWAT team.  What if whoever was making my dog whine had calculatingly followed the progress throughout my fruitless “turning on the lights” endeavor, staying just out of sight until I dropped my guard?  That’s how it worked in the movies.  Just as the audience relaxes, the onscreen victim gets fricasseed.

Finally, I made it back to the living room.  My dog was still whining.  There was nothing for it.  I had to bite the bullet and go in.

This time she didn’t look to me as I entered, instead merely kept whining at something outside her kennel.  That’s when I saw what had caused this a.m. uproar.  A piece of her treat, a strip of duck jerky that she gets at bedtime, had fallen outside of the kennel and, evidently, the little piglet had only just noticed it as it sat out of reach.

Grumbling, I picked up the treat and tossed it in to her.  She gobbled it up and then put her head down, looking up at me expectantly as if to say “Any way we could turn these lights out?  I’m sleepy.”

My feet landed heavily as I retraced my steps, turning the lights back off again and making my way back to bed, questioning just how much having a dog meant to me.

Just as I was about to go to sleep, grumpy thoughts filling me head, I heard it.

A whispered voice filtered through the vent, coming from the basement.

“I think they’re down again.  It’s quiet. Let’s do this.”

I reached for the cell on my nightstand and dialed 911, yelling at the operator so those in the basement could hear, “Yes, 911 police operator, there’s someone in my basement!”

I could hear the ruckus in the basement as whoever was down there hurriedly escaped out the basement door.

After the cops left, I went to my dog, a fistful of duck jerky treats in hand, and let her out of her kennel.

“Who’s the best dog in the whole wide world?” I asked as she inhaled my early morning Thank You.  She just took a deep breath like a sigh and laid her head in my lap, sleepily closing her eyes as I scratched behind her ears.