I had started doing this thing where, when I encountered family dogs tied up outside a store or lolling in a front yard alone, I told them "Don't let 'em go to hell."
This is an allusion to an episode of "The Twilight Zone" in which a man on the road to heaven is saved from taking a wrong turn into perdition by his loyal canine.
"Even the devil can't fool a dog," says an angel near the end of the episode.
Rod Serling has a concluding voice-over that starts "Travellers to unknown regions would be well-advised to take along the family dog."
Anyway, I don't think the pooches minded me saying this, even if they haven't seen that episode.
But it has been suggested that someone overhearing me might not catch the first part of the declaration and, as a result, get the wrong idea about my tone.
So, just for the record, let me make one thing clear.
I would never tell a dog to go to blazes.