I AM awful with my biases. For instance, I think dogs are virtue incarnate and cats are all wiles.

Every night, brushing my teeth before going to bed, I hear the clinking of the chained dog of our neighbor. I have never seen this dog. I have seen the other dogs owned by our neighbor but not this particular dog.

Yet, this unseen dog is more real to me as a character than the other dogs I sometimes see chasing each other or dozing in our neighbor’s porch. When I was gingerly brushing the sore gums cushioning a wisdom tooth the dentist had scraped until all my toes and more had curled from the tension, I talked to the dog in my head, soothing it as it dragged its chain from one spot to another in that cramped space beyond our kitchen windows.

Who would put a dog in chains to guard a washing machine, a clothesline and a family of birds that raise a racket every morning in their nest beneath the eaves? The neighbor we share a wall with.

Sometimes, I tell the dog his is not such a tough job. He could be sniffing for hot meat or banned drugs without any hope of retiring on a government pension. He could be dodging mean cretins on meaner streets. He could be padding around in nappies, tutus or some such indignity.

Every time, that softly chinking chain always overpowers the alibis I line up in the kitchen window like imaginary biscuits I toss down to the dog I cannot see but I can hear. I think all dogs should be free to run, explore with their nose, roll in the dirt, and make those disgusting mini-pools with their lolling tongues.

My sister’s late dog had very short legs. Whatever the season, my sister woke early to carry out Sonny because her bladder became full to bursting overnight but she could not run fast enough to reach the backdoor without accident.

I never asked my sister why she didn’t let Sonny just sleep in the garden. Or why she and her daughters take Angel, the dog that came after Sonny, to the park to sniff and meet other dogs.

Rescued and fostered for a while with a family that kept other dogs, Angel had to adjust to being the only dog when she joined my sister and her daughters. She buried bones all over my sister’s lawn, hiding her hoard from imaginary rivals.

Perhaps missing the other dogs she burrowed with in her foster home, Angel slept on the pile of still warm, spun-dried clothes my sister spent her Sunday afternoon folding. When you name after an angel a dog that comes to you with unknown baggage, you have a bottomless store of optimism that all dogs go to heaven.

Meanwhile, hang in there, comrade beyond the wall.