You know the scene, if you are of a certain age or you have a certain amount of pop culture awareness: Lassie, the collie, comes running up to the young farmer who is busy fixing a tractor that never seems to be in proper repair. Lassie lets loose with a series of barks. She has what can best be described in canine terms as an expectant look on her muzzle. "What is it girl?" asks the young farmer. Another series of staccato barks. "Timmy's in trouble?" A firm but growing more anxious bark in reply. Lassie is losing patience with this exchange. "Timmy fell down the well?" A happy and relieved bark as the dog starts to turn in the direction of the well, looking back over her shoulder, waiting once again for this human to catch up to her alert. One more bark, this one is obviously "hurry!"
Though dull, the young farmer, Paul Martin was able to decipher what Lassie was trying to put across with her plaintive yelping. It is possible that Mister Martin possessed some sort of preternatural ability to comprehend dog speak. A rural Doctor Dolittle. While taking on this ability with mild aplomb, it should be noted that Paul Martin was not alone in this skill. Many of the human beings who came into contact with Lassie seemed to have a savant capacity to understand what was going on in her doggie mine. It could be that it was the dog and not the people around her who were special, and when she went off to that big kennel in the sky, Lassie took with her the secret of canine-human conversation.
I believe this is true because try as I might, the yipping from the dog next door continues to sound like noise to me instead of communication. It's not "I'm hot," or "I'm lonely," or "somebody fell down the well." More likely it has something to do with "It's three in the morning and I want someone to care about it." There is no danger, no fire in the barn. The beast has been fed and watered. It just seems to go off for fifteen to twenty minute intervals that can only be worse for those trapped inside with it. When it's all over, and peace resumes in the night, I wonder what must be going on inside that little empty head. Maybe the dog is just set for the wrong time zone, and a quick check of his control panel and some minor adjustments to his software would set him right.
Or maybe it's something more dire. Like spoilers from season seven of Game of Thrones.