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I woke up to the sound of padded feet and click-clacking nails on the hardwood stairs leading up to my bedroom. I let out a weak ‘oof’ as the dog jumped onto my chest and began to sniff me. He then licked my hand until he had coated it with a thick layer of drool.
“My,” I whispered, trying not to wake my wife, despite the fact that she’s a moderately heavy sleeper, “You’re a heavy boy, aren’t you?”
The dog growled at me and unceremoniously leaped off the bed.
“I figure you want a walk,” I said, getting out of bed and slipping into my fuzzy bunny slippers. As much as they were tacky, they were the same amount comfortable.
I groped around the dark hallway downstairs, trying to find the leash, but wound up deciding he was big enough to fend for himself. “Sorry,” I told him with a shrug. “No leash tonight.”
The dog—as big as it was—then tried to squeeze through the cat door. “Excited, aren’t we? Now, now. You’ll have to use the door like the rest of the big people.”
After extracting the dog from the poor cat’s door, I ushered him outside, whereupon he promptly—much to my dismay, moreover since the outcome should have been obvious—ran off, barking madly and running in a staggering, zigzag pattern. It was something like what a drunken person would do walking.
Cursing, I turned to go back inside but was shocked to see my wife coming down the stairs. “What’s going on in here? What’s with the smell and all the barking?”
“Oh, the usual,” I told her, still barely half awake and drying my hand off. I stupidly used hot water instead of warm, which only aggravated the gash on my hand I got that morning repairing a barbwire fence.
“I just took the dog outside for a walk, and he ran away. He should be careful, there’s a rabid dog out there. I was just about to go get the flashlight and find him.”
I looked up from my hands and the towel to see my wife dialing a number on the phone. She stared at me with an odd look.
“What? What’s wrong? I’m sure he’ll come back. I was jus—.” She cut me off.
“It’s not that,” she said, the phone in her hand shaking as it rang slowly. “We don’t have a dog.”