The Adventures of Mister Wicked: The mysterious affair of the dog who woofed in the night

’Twas the night after Boxing Day, and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Or so the humans, blissfully asleep, would have thought, if they had been awake to think.

Someone, however, could not sleep. He had something on his mind.

“Woof!” said Mister Wicked. When nothing happened, he stood on the bottom of the Forbidden Stairs and said “Woof!” again.

“Rarroooarrawurraguh,” mumbled the human with portfolio for night-time woofings, and she rolled blearily out of bed and stumbled downstairs.

Mister Wicked greeted her with enthusiastic tail wagging.

The human was not enthusiastic at all. She made her way to the kitchen in the dark and found the Wicked Dog’s harness and leash.

That was not what Mister Wicked had in mind. He retired into his box and curled up small. Any reasonable human would have concluded from this that either there had merely been a test of the emergency woof system and no real digestive emergency was imminent, or that it had been a different sort of “woof” entirely. However, at 3 a.m., very few humans are capable of reasoned thought and logical deduction. The human tugged on Mister Wicked’s collar and then went around to the back of the box to poke him in the ribs (leading Mister Wicked to wish the gods had endowed him with a more substantial indoor doghouse than a wire cage and a bedsheet).* Mister Wicked, in a state of some disgruntlement, emerged from his box and condescended to have his harness put on. The human found her boots and her coat and her hat and her mittens, and they went outside.

The night was cold and still; the ice that coated every twig and stalk glittered beneath the light pollution of the streetlamps; the snow was fluffy over a nice hard crust. Mister Wicked forgot he was disgruntled at the human’s inadequate grasp of canine and frolicked. Frolic, frolic, frolic.

“Hurry up,” grumbled the human, entirely failing to appreciate the lovely frolic in the garden she was having.

Mister Wicked rolled onto his back and waggled his paws in the air, to convey his general enjoyment of life and disinclination to be towed inside again.

“Well, hurry up, then,” said the human, and they frolicked some more. Eventually Mister Wicked humoured the human and they went back inside.

He remembered why he had been woofing.

“Woof?” he said, and stood in the hallway, waggling his tail endearingly.**

“Go to bed,” said the human. “Bedtime.” She got the going-back-to bed bedtime biscuit, so Mister Wicked, with a sigh, went back to his cosy bed in the living room, and the human tucked him in and gave him his biscuit.

“Siiiigh,” said Mister Wicked, his head pillowed on a Shetland Wool sweater, sans bilboes, as the human went back to bed.

In the morning, when the human, still somewhat humourless due to not having been able to go back to sleep for another hour, came downstairs, she was greeted with the sight of a sock.

Her sock.***

The one that had been missing when they sorted the laundry the day before.

It was laid out carefully in the middle of the hall carpet.

Mister Wicked saw her looking at the sock.

“Woof!” he said, and waggled his tail hopefully. Now, perhaps, after a good night’s sleep, the human’s grasp of canine would be improved, and she would recognize the subtle difference in intonation between “Help something nasty is going to happen if I don’t get outside Right Now!” and “Nyah, nyah, I have your sock.”

The human looked at her sock, which assuredly had not been there when she went to bed the night before (for the first time, that is).

The human remembered an incident the week before, when there had also been a three a.m. emergency woofing, and in the morning, a half-eaten sock had mysteriously appeared in the hall, carefully laid out for inspection.

The human sighed. “My sock,” she said. “Not Mr Wicked’s sock.”

Waggle waggle. Mr Wicked knew that perfectly well. That was, after all, the whole point. That was the Game. Dog steals sock. Human cries, “My sock!” and chases dog. But humans are so busy during the day that they never want to play for long. It was really quite a good idea, he had thought, to stash a sock away in his box when the humans weren’t looking, for later use during the long, boring night-time.

That the human never turned on the lights when she came downstairs at night was the one flaw in his cunning plan.

* Crate training is all very well, but be warned, your dog may decide the crate is his fortress/tree-house/treasury-for-stolen-items and you may find it becomes a permanent part of your household furniture, a useful surface on which to pile reusable grocery bags and dog paraphernalia in a small and cluttered house, but likewise, a substantial taking-up of the very limited kitchen floorspace. And he doesn’t even sleep in it. It’s just a fort for brooding, hiding from tooth-brushing, and scoring goals in games of soccer-ball/hah-hah-I-have-stolen-your-X.

** Having the tail (and spirit) of a husky, Mister Wicked waggles rather than wags his tea-cup tail. The effect, in a beast who inherited Siberian husky curl and German Shepherd length, can be rather comical.

*** A nice Stanfield’s wool work sock, she would like to add, as was the one he ate. She still hasn’t found the mate to that one. Presumably it is still hidden somewhere in the house for a future bout of three-in-the-morning boredom.

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About KV Johansen

The author of Blackdog, The Leopard, The Lady, and the forthcoming Gods of Nabban, epic fantasies from Pyr, I also write for teens and children, including the "Torrie", "Warlocks of Talverdin", and "Cassandra Virus" series, and the "Pippin and Mabel" picture books, as well as a couple of short story collections and two works of adult literary criticism on the history of children's fantasy literature. I have a Master's degree in Mediaeval Studies, and read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, and history. Blog at thewildforest.wordpress.com
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