Bella's piercing eyes peered out from her cell. A prolonged, guttural growl escaped her lips, despite the muzzle she wore. She appeared to be strapped to a large steel board by some kind of doggy straitjacket. "I've been expecting you," she snarled, a wave of stench accompanying her breath. "Come closer. Closer ..."
I edged toward the thick bars of Bella's cell, studying her frightful visage. Her skin twitched, and her eyes darted around the room. "Bella," I spoke, "you have some information that I need. I am here to retrieve it."
"You want the rawhide, eh?" she growled. "Noticed it missing, did you?"
That was exactly why I was here. The enriched rawhide. A huge quantity had gone missing the night of the Pug Life Telethon. I kept this theft a secret from the International Atomic Energy Agency, but in truth, it had set the ministry back years. "Where is the rawhide, Bella?" I barked.
"Squid pro ... quo?" she barked. I studied her face. "You have no idea what you're talking about, do you, Bella?" Her eyes darted to the floor. "No," she admitted. "Listen, Bella," I barked, "I am not here to play games. If I were, I'd have brought my tug-of-war rope. Now either you volunteer some information, or I will force it from you."
Mindful of the result of our last epic battle, Bella nodded slowly and began to tell a rambling tale. She admitted she'd taken the rawhide, four tons of it, and gone into hiding. "And then," she said, "I took a lover ..."
"Bella!" I interrupted. "T-M-I." I tasted a hint of vomit in the back of my mouth.
"But you don't understand, ayatollah," she said. "This is where the rawhide went -- I gave it as a gift. Perhaps you have heard of my whippet friend."
No, it could not be! I knew exactly who Bella spoke of. It was the incredible hulking whippet. "Did this ... friend of yours eat all the rawhide?" I asked. She shook her head. "No, a small amount remains," she said. "I will give you the address."
Now that I had the information I sought, there was but one more consideration: Bella's soul. But as I studied her crazed, twitching face, a realization hit me. I could probably cast out the demons inside her, but Bella would still be what we in the business call a "bad dog." Her soul is like a low-rent tenement house for evil forces. An exorcism might cure her for now, but there was nothing to prevent her from inviting the demons back in. Much as it pained me to do so, I knew there was no other choice.
"Farewell, Bella," I barked. "I will pray for your redemption, and I will try to find a permanent solution to free you of your demonic influence. But for now, it is best for all involved that you remain under lock and key."