The other night at precisely 1:37 a.m., I woke to grunting and growling and looked down beside the bed to discover the dog staring back at me. She was sitting there, waiting impatiently for me to get up, trudge downstairs and retrieve a snack for her.

You might think this habit is a bit peculiar, but it happens every night. Everyone — man, woman, dog, whoever — loves a late-night snack. This sort of begging happens so often with Bella that I keep a bag of animal crackers nearby in case of emergency.

I’m sure Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan and the Monks of New Skete would disapprove. We broke all the dog obedience rules and now we’re paying for it. For me, fetching nighttime treats is a killer because I can never get back to sleep, and I end up tossing and turning, while Bella closes her eyes and returns to doggie dreamland where she can chew up my slippers with impunity.

I have to get up at 6, bleary-eyed and fatigued, to face another day, while she gets to lounge on the covers for the rest of the morning. I ask you — dog owners, cat owners and parakeet owners — what’s wrong with this picture?

I shouldn’t be surprised because she’s following an honorable family tradition. When I look at my wife’s nightstand in the morning, it resembles an un-bussed table at an all-night diner. There’s an empty cereal bowl, an empty coffee mug and an empty bag of Skinny Pop Popcorn.

I try not to eat late at night, although there are occasions when I give in to the temptation because my stomach is grumbling and I feel hunger pangs coming on; however, the thought of getting up and scouring the refrigerator or pantry for something to eat is about as appealing as brushing my teeth at 2 a.m.

The other night after 45 minutes of resisting the urge to get a snack, I finally relented. I checked my wife’s nightstand, thinking there might be a Rice Krispies treat, but no such luck. I even considered eating the dog’s animal crackers, but then I got up and went downstairs and came back with a few pretzel rods, which I tried to eat as quietly as possible because I didn’t want the rest of the household, human and canine, to get up and turn the place into an all-night diner — expecting me to retrieve snacks for everyone.

The problem is that pretzels create crumbs, and there’s nothing worse than trying to get to sleep when you have crumbs and salt on the sheets. And there’s nothing worse than trying to stay asleep when someone in bed is making crunching noises and chewing on pretzels. Is it any wonder that America is suffering from an epidemic of insomnia? Half the population is awake eating in bed, and the other half is awake listening to someone eating in bed.

My second daughter was notorious for this sort of behavior, and every morning my wife would find ice cream sandwich wrappers under her bed. On a bad morning, there’d even be half of a melted ice cream sandwich. Good thing we didn’t have a dog back then, or the situation would have reached crisis proportions with daughter and dog fighting over the ice cream sandwich.

After I indulge myself with a late-night snack, I’m utterly incapable of going back to sleep unless I brush my teeth. If the sound of crunching pretzels gets everyone angry, I don’t have to tell you what the sound of an electric toothbrush at 2:19 a.m. does to disrupt a family’s tranquility.

So there I am with my toothbrush, mouthwash and floss, trying to be as quiet as possible until the nocturnal serenity is shattered and someone screams, “WHO’S BRUSHING THEIR TEETH AT THIS TIME OF NIGHT?!”

Guilty as charged. But I can’t imagine going back to bed without brushing my teeth ... especially if I ate an ice cream sandwich.

Joe Pisani can be reached at joefpisani@yahoo.com.