One evening after dinner, I heard a scrabbling noise coming from upstairs. It sounded like a dog trying to dig right through the hardwood floor above. “Now what?” Doug asked. Since we got Angus, “Now what?” is a question we ask fairly often.

I headed upstairs to check, but Angus raced down the stairs past me, looking about as guilty as a dog can look. His face clearly said, “Nothing to see here!”

When I looked, he was right: There was nothing to see. He hadn’t shredded anything, nor raided the bathroom wastebasket. My socks were still where they belonged.

Later that night, Rosie, our seven-year-old Lab mix, wandered into the bedroom. Angus sat up and watched her intently. When Rosie headed out onto our little enclosed porch, Angus leaped off the bed like a shot and followed.

This was unusual.

They did not come back. This was even more unusual.

After a while, I padded over to the doorway and looked. Rosie was flattened out on the porch floor, her nose deep underneath a small table. Angus hovered nervously. They were so intense that they didn’t even glance at me.

It took a while before I figured it out: Angus had hidden his bully stick chewie under the table in a dark corner. No wonder Rosie was curious. No wonder Angus was watching her.

Not all dogs bury bones. Rosie has never done this; Rosie eats everything immediately. (She’s just like me!) But she knows that Angus has started hiding his treats and chewies, and she is determined to find them.

Our old dog Riley used to hide things. Anything bigger than a regular Milk Bone would send him into a panic, and rather than attempt to eat it, he would stash it away. One Christmas my nephew sent Riley and Boscoe enormous rawhide chewies, glossy golden-brown and braided like challah loaves. They were so beautiful I almost ate one myself.

Riley was beside himself. He tried to hide his underneath some torn wrapping paper — scraping and pawing and scrabbling, stepping back once or twice to examine his work, and finally dragging over an extension cord and draping it across the whole thing.

This took a long time, and Riley, an anxious dog even on a good day, never lost his look of deep concern. With good reason. When he was finally done, Boscoe — who had been biding his time and snickering in the other room — nudged the wrapping paper out of the way, picked up the rawhide and trotted off.

It was as excruciating to witness as it was hilarious. Poor Riley.

Angus doesn’t panic the way Riley did. He’s craftier. He plans. He might well study blueprints of the house in order to determine the best hiding places.

This morning, we were drinking coffee when both dogs burst onto the porch.

Now what?

Rosie wedged herself behind my chair and lay there moaning quietly, her nose up against the wall. Once again, Angus hovered too close and watched her intently.

It took a long time to find the bully stick. Doug and I kept telling the dogs, “There’s nothing there!” But the dogs knew better. Those noses do not lie.

Doug had to get a flashlight and lie flat on the floor before he saw it: This one had been shoved under the bookcase as far back as it would go, and tucked against the inside edge of the legs. There’s no way Angus could have retrieved this, but by golly he sure had it hidden well.

We pulled it out and put it, for temporary safekeeping, on the molding above the bedroom door.

When I left for work an hour later, Rosie was sleeping in the living room. But Angus was wide awake. He was upstairs, lying on the bedroom floor, staring up at the door and guarding his treasure. 

Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Star Tribune. 612-673-7302. @StribBooks

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