My Dachshund Is Plotting Something Sinister in the Corner of the Backyard

I’ve watched her for the past week. She pads back and forth across the wet dirt, nose to the ground, as though she is looking for a hiding place. Or perhaps mapping out coordinates with her small red paws.

Heidi’s inherent villainy extends beyond that of a normal bad dog. She does not seek revenge with a simple carpet stain; she is more reserved, cold, calculating. She is capable of more than you would expect from an eleven pound animal, and that is her strength. One of them, at least. She also possesses an acute intelligence and a sharp eye. I am fairly certain that Heidi was at least partially responsible for my parents’ messy divorce.

She has recently taken to following me around the house; she may already suspect that I know what she’s up to, and has consequently placed me under her keen surveillance under the guise of dog-like loyalty. Maybe she needs my help.

There is a small hole dug into the earth in the corner of our backyard, near the wooden fence. It is not a deep hole, yet Heidi returns to this burrow each day. She buries her small head in the soil and digs a little — just a little — and then inspects her work. The digging is atypical for Heidi. Precocious dog that she is, Heidi never took well to the vapid habits of your average Labrador. She rejects tennis balls, sticks, squeaking toys, and other dogs. And she was never one to dig in the yard.

She understands that she only has about five to ten minutes of outdoors time, so she makes quick work of it. I watch her from the window and admire her efficiency, though I have not yet quite put my finger on what the ultimate goal is. Each step she takes seems precisely placed, and every bit of earth she digs up seems to be dug up for a specific reason. Her digging is architectural, and I would not be surprised if within that small mind lay a great spread of blueprints.

I have seen her watching me. She will appear around corners, her eyes quietly probing (for what?). In the night I will wake from a deep sleep to the nearly imperceptible sound of her leathery paws traipsing across the carpeting of my bedroom. She has become more restless as of late; her nighttime strolls have increased in frequency in recent weeks and I often awake to the sight of her eyes peering up at me as she half-stands with her front feet braced against my bed. I have not yet decided whether her fixed gaze is threatening, or trusting, or pleading.

Last night I jolted upright in bed as an unfamiliar noise echoed throughout the house. As the haze of sleep lifted from my eyes, I realized that the noise was not the sound of someone chiseling away at the lock on the front door, as I had suspected. The grating sound of claws violently scraping against the painted back door reverberated throughout the house. The urgency with which Heidi scratched at the back door was startling and disturbing. I stood in the dark and watched her. She was determined, perhaps even desperate, to get outside. Maybe she had also jolted awake from a dream, a nightmare of her plans mislaid, and now sought the familiarity of her handiwork for reassurance. Maybe she suddenly remembered that she had earlier forgotten to strategically place the garden hose around the small hole, thus rendering it susceptible to damage, or discovery. Or maybe, for once, a flash of emotion had plagued Heidi, a weak moment of hubris overpowering restraint — maybe she just could not resist admiring her work.

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