Think of that name and what images come to mind?

Yeah me too. Until 5 months ago that is.

My Family goes to bed early. I tend to stay up until midnight. On this particular evening in November my dog was acting restless. Her head making the vertical blinds clack back and forth and air barking, you know, the sound that says “I’m expressing myself but not in an annoying enough way for you to yell at me”.
I turn off the lights and head up to bed. As soon as my feet hit the top landing Annie starts full-out barking and I rush downstairs to quiet her down before the whole house wakes up. A few minutes of consoling and I’m back up to bed. Ten minutes later drifting off to sleep I’m alerted to the sound of sticks snapping followed by Annie, this time in fully heightened siren bark mode. Rushing back downstairs I grab a flashlight. Looking out the back windows into the yard I sweep my 100 lumen Cree light across the yard, nothing. At this point I assume it’s a deer and start to have doubts the dog will ever quiet down. After spending some time with her she quiets down and lays in her bed. Back up to bed I make a bathroom stop. While standing at the toilet, my head inches from the open bathroom window I hear the unmistakable sound of a man whistling. The hairs stand up on the back of my neck. It’s not just whistling as if calling an animal, but an actual tune which I quickly recognize as Yankee Doodle Dandy, except slow and somber like. I flipped off the bathroom light, grabbed the flashlight and switched it on.

“What the hell!” I screamed as I see a man looking up at me from below, his hands behind his back continuing to whistle the horrifying version of the patriotic tune. “What are you doing here” I yelled. He continued unfazed until I shouted “Get off my property” sort of like Clint Eastwood, except louder, more excited and in my underwear. At this the man stopped and said “Oh, OK” and turned, I could see the seat of his dirty chinos as he retreated into the far reaches of my backyard. Excitedly dialing 911 and telling of my emergency the operator asked if the man was wearing light-colored pants. My mind flashed back to the dirty chinos., “Was he an older gentleman?” she asked. “yes” I said to both questions. “That’s probably Dino, a man with Alzheimer’s who’s been missing for hours, I’ll send a patrol car to come and get him.”

Typical of my town in New Jersey five patrol cars show up with their lights flashing and radios audible from inside my house. The five cops rush my backyard like some kind of military operation with lots of shouting and their little Maglites ablaze. Standing barefoot on my deck trying to get their attention, one of them finally came over. I pointed with my light back to where I saw the man go. A few moments later they yell “we got him” and out through the thicket, flanked by two officers comes this confused little man wearing chinos and just a tee-shirt on this cool November night. One of the policemen shouts “Dino! what are you doing here”?” Dino answered ” hey, what are the cops doing here”? The police then took my name and number and told me “you saved a life tonight.” I pointed at my dog, “she deserves the credit” I said. We watched from my sons bedroom window as a van arrived to take Dino home. It was 2:00 a.m. It turns out that Dino lived two towns away and wandered about 5 miles from home to end up in my secluded fenced in backyard which is four meandering streets away from a main road. Getting to sleep wasn’t easy that night. Never have I experienced fear, anger, happiness and sadness all within a two-hour period. From that moment on, the mentioning of The Flintstones pet or Dean Martin’s nickname will always hold a different significance for me and my family.

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