The best dog that ever was, is, or will be, has a major flaw—he can’t abide anyone who hiccups. Don’t ask me why that is. Maybe it’s a hark back to a time when great hiccupping beasts prowled beyond the cave opening where Best Dog’s forebears stood watch, or it could be someone with a bad case of hiccups scolded Best Dog before I got him. I only know he finds it the second most alarming sound imaginable. Only close thunder outranks it.   Late one night I was helping load a lawn mower into the trunk of my car, and after accomplishing that awkward feat the plan was to half-nudge, half-lift Best Dog onto the back seat; then we would go home. It so happened the one helping load the mower—indeed, doing most of the lifting since days earlier I had wrecked my back hefting an air-conditioner upstairs–it so happened he hiccupped several times. I thought nothing of it until it came time to nudge-lift Best Dog.   Best Dog was already gone.   He was as gone as yesterday, gone as my expensive digital camera that last year got so thoroughly baptized by the Saline it never worked again, gone as any dream of writing deathless prose in a blog. We drove the back roads. We drove up to people’s houses at almost midnight, where, truth be told I half-expected bullets to come whizzing past our ears worse than hornets on a mission, and that’s only if we were lucky. No bullets greeted us, but we didn’t find Best Dog, either.   Finally, though, we found him quite a ways down the road. Except for the panting and the running away, he appeared to be handling the crisis just fine. He wasn’t gone after all, merely going.   I was still shaking on the inside.   It was a minute or two before the inner shaking quit, and the hollowed out feeling in the gut faded, and I was feeling like a human being again.   We nudged and lifted Best Dog into the floorboard of the van and drove back to the car.   The night’s brief adventure was over and done with and for that I was exceedingly glad.   If you find yourself around Best Dog, suppress any hiccup on the verge of becoming audible. The forbearance might damage you to some extent but will do a world of good for Best Dog   One is all it takes and he’s out of there. I’m not kidding.