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It's 3:27 a.m. on Saturday. I just got home.

No, it wasn't a hot night on the town, spent sucking down $8 martinis at Much. Although I could use an $8 martini right about now.I was running up a tab at another late-night hangout. The emergency vet.

My dog had one too many tonight.

He needed his stomach pumped. Again.

Because he ate a sock. Again.

He's a sweet pup, really. With the classic, cracking Siberian husky howl. With hair so ubiquitous that I find it on my friends' clothing, in their homes. And with a tendency to chew on, among other things, my hand.

I really love him. Really.

Baxter eats dog food voraciously, but he also enjoys snacking on, let's see, my brand-new green shirt from LL Bean; a cute, never-been-worn pink tee from J. Crew; the corner of my wedding-gift sheets - both pair. The dish towels, the bath towels and the corner of the rug.

We find the evidence months later in tattered pieces of faded but familiar fabric in the yard.

But nothing beats a sweaty running sock. The little you-know-what can swallow them whole.

Here's how it goes.

Me, walking into living room: "(Insert four-letter word)!"

Baxter: Looks up with innocent eyes.

Me: "Treat! Treat! Drop it! Drop it! Treat! Want a treat?"

Baxter: Stops slow chomping, looks at me, considers the options, then swallows the whole sock in three visible gulps.

Me: "(Insert several four-letter words.)"

There's only one way to get it out.

Unlike my other dog, Alaska - famous for eating (then unloading) a whole pot of spaghetti and sausage and a batch of Christmas cookies in the few months we've had her - Baxter has an iron stomach. So, to the vet we go.

This probably begs an obvious question: What's with the clothing on the floor?

It's an excellent question. I'll leave it at that. Definitely still working on that one.

In the meantime, we face off in the living room. Then we make the monthly late-night trek to the emergency vet, where Baxter heaves up his insides, then returns happily to me and the car.

And my gym bag in the back seat, with two tasty running socks tucked inside.

\ Contact Melissa Turner at 373-7092 or Features

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