That damned dog was barking again. Right outside my bedroom window as I tried to sleep. The neighbours had left it out in the yard again, chained to the back porch, so it wouldn't bark inside the house and keep them awake. How considerate of them.

I pounded my pillow with my fist, then buried my head beneath it, trying to drown out the constant yapping. Why anyone would want a dog that barked like that was beyond me. It was what – a beagle, I think? They even named it "Snoopy". Give me a break.

I lay there in the dark, the hour my alarm would sound off to wake me looming closer as that dog continued to bark. Hours passed, and I got to thinking that I had to do something about this. I couldn't live like this. I did finally fall asleep after that, but not before I had solidified my plan. I would do it the next night.

The day passed by slowly, and I fell asleep in both my morning classes. This earned me a detention, which didn't help, by any means. Finally, I trudged up the driveway at four-thirty. I stumbled up the stairs to my room, dropping my bag on the floor and laying down across my bed. I noticed the dog wasn't barking; it made me laugh. I took advantage of the opportunity and slept through dinner. I didn't wake up until my watch alarm went off. One in the morning.

I got up and went to the window, peering into the darkened yard next door. There it was. Chained up again and poised to howl all night. I closed the blinds and hurried downstairs as quietly as possible. I left by the backdoor just in case anyone was still up and about. Besides, I'd left the baseball bat and pack of bacon hidden behind our tool shed. I would be needing those.

I hopped the fence easily, just out of reach of the dog, which strained, pulling the chain taut and barking monotonously at me. I tossed a strip of bacon at it. That shut it up. I took the opportunity and moved forwards, grabbing the chain in my hands and unhooking it from the porch railing. Dropping strips of bacon as I went, I led that dumb dog right out the gate and into my yard. It didn't seem to notice; content on snuffling at the bacon I kept feeding it.

I tied it tightly to the old oak tree in the middle of the yard, giving it only inches of leeway. It was now or never. I gave it the last piece of bacon, and then reached for the bat, raising it high over my head. I was just about to swing down, just one quick mercy blow, but I couldn't do it. The wretched thing was up on its hind legs, front paws in the air, begging for more bacon. Sighing and cursing under my breath at my apparent soft spot, I untied it. I was even about to return it, unscathed, to its yard, but I had another idea. A better idea.

I snuck it upstairs into my room, closing and locking my door behind me. No one ever came in anyway, but I wasn't going to take that chance.. I took the chain off its neck so it wouldn't rattle, and watched in silent disbelief as it hopped up onto my bed and lay down to sleep. I climbed under the covers next to it, hoping over and over again it wouldn't bark. It didn't. I got the best night's sleep I had in a long time.

I kept the dog for over a week. That's when the posters had come out. I'd thought they never would. Turns out the beast was a purebred. The family was offering two hundred dollars for its safe return.

I waited until garbage night and took a walk around the neighbourhood, kicking over garbage cans and spreading the waste around, including the ones in front of my own house. Then I took the dog next door.

"You found him!" the middle-aged woman exclaimed when she opened the door. I told her he'd been rummaging around in my garbage. She was elated. She paid me the reward, and I even got a couple of cookies out of the deal. Not bad.

That's how I started my little business. Sure, my apartment is full of pets no one cared enough about to put out posters for, but the ones who do care pay well. You could say this is dishonest. You'd be right. But honesty didn't pay for my Ferrari.

© Kelsey Sanderson 2004