ARRIVING HOME ONE RAINY NIGHT

to find our house burglarized, we called the police. They arrived within minutes, accompanied by a large dog that ran through the house making sure it was empty. One officer logged stolen possessions while another sprinkled fingerprint powder on various objects that were strewn about. Meanwhile, I launched my own investigation for additional clues.

The thieves, I discovered, had tried the back basement door before settling on the front. I spotted droplets of an undetermined nature on the dining room rug. I rubbed the substance between my fingers and smelled. "Ugh, tuna oil," I exclaimed. Both my wife and the "crime analysis" officer followed suit, and both confirmed my conclusion. We attempted to determine, without success, if the burglars had had a snack while ransacking the place.

Later, the officer took us through the house, showing us where investigators had dusted for fingerprints. A damp cloth and a little detergent, he said, would remove the black dust. "That dog really made a mess of things," my wife said, gazing at the muddy pawprints.

That's when the three of us simultaneously recognized the source of the unpleasant mystery liquid in the dining room. The police dog had methodically marked -- with urine -- rooms it had examined: We soon discovered that our canine assistant had also hit the bed upstairs, the wool rug in the living room and the kitchen floor.

A classic case of adding insult to injury.