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What Happens At 3 AM

Part of why I got a big dog was to feel secure. Nala takes her watch dog duties seriously, as you can see in her photo. After a recent break-in in my neighborhood, I’m especially alert when she barks.

Last night around 3 a.m., Nala let out several booming warning barks from the back patio.

I sat straight up in bed, completely awake instantly (which, as my husband will tell you, rarely happens). I peeked carefully through the blinds of our bedroom window but didn’t see anything outside. I tried calling Nala, not wanting her to wake up the neighbors and HOA in the middle of the night, but she kept barking. That made me think she had seen something I hadn’t.

I opened the bedroom door and walked towards the back door. Normally, when Nala makes her presence known to a threat, she barks as she stares them down through the gate. (I call it her alligator-in-the-moat intruder alert position.) But, unlike most times, she was sitting just outside the dog door. I stood there for a moment, wondering why she bothered going outside if she was just going to stop on the other side of the door. That’s when I heard it. A loud, shrill, ear-splitting beep.

The battery in the smoke detector was dying. Why does that always happen in the middle of the night?

I pieced together why Nala was so irritated and sitting outside: the new spot for her bed is directly below the smoke detector. The poor girl woke up to that awful sound right above her and had no idea what it was. No wonder she was grumpy.

I turned on the light, moved Nala’s bed, and pulled up a chair to climb on. Once I turned on the light, Nala came trotting in to observe. As I climbed onto the dining chair, Nala sat down with her ears up and her head tilted, trying to understand why Mom was trying to climb the wall in the middle of the night. I managed to make the smoke detector beep more urgently before finally prying it off the wall. Not caring to fix the situation at 3 a.m., I took the battery out and set both the battery and the smoke detector on a table to handle in the morning. I pet her on the head, murmuring “It’s ok, sweet girl, everything is fine.” Nala sniffed the detector, suspicious that the threat was neutralized so easily.

I put the chair and her bed back in their rightful places, turned off the lights, and headed back to my bedroom. I felt the brush of fur against my leg as I walked into the room, then heard a soft thump as Nala settled in next to my side of the bed. Like a child who woke up from a nightmare, Nala needed to be next to Mom to feel safe. Within a few minutes, I could tell from her breathing she was asleep. I, on the other hand, lay awake for quite a while before I managed to fall back asleep.

I ended up comforting my watch dog after a false alarm. That whole dog-as-security plan may have backfired.


If you've had a similar experience, please click "like" at the top so I don't feel like my big dog is the only one who sometimes acts like a big baby. wink


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