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LOST DOG

Lost Dog


Estimated reading time — 12 minutes

Two days passed. He still hadn’t returned.

We weren’t sure which of the five family members had left the kitchen door open. But our beloved twelve year old golden retriever found his way out and hadn’t come back. It wasn’t the first time. He’d find his way out and run off for an afternoon. But never overnight. He’d always be home for dinner.

Two days. We were all sick with worry. We flyer’d the neighbourhood with Lost Dog posters. Every telephone pole had Chase’s smiling face on it. I’ve seen some posters that say “Don’t try to catch or engage with so and so, just call us immediately.” That didn’t apply to Chase. You didn’t need treats. You just needed a smile.

He was the best dog.

Is. Is the best dog.

A big golden retriever, Chase clocked in around eighty pounds and chonky. He moved fast though. He had a gorgeous golden coat that glowed in the summer. He was the kind of dog you see in brochures for new housing developments in the suburbs with middle-class families. Like ours.

Since the original Lost Dog posters yesterday, we’d printed more. This time offering a reward. $500. Mom and dad decided we’d push it to $1000 by tomorrow night, if necessary.

Chase was the glue of our family. Whenever we left, he always waited in the front mudroom for us. He loved sleeping on our shoes when we weren’t there. It was beautiful coming home to him and bitter leaving. He made the world better, and now it seemed so empty without him. That was his charm. He always wanted to party AND he always wanted to snooze on the sofa with you during a movie. He was game for whatever.

The fear of never seeing him again was growing with every hour. I was keeping those thoughts away, and had done pretty well so far. But two nights without him felt like two months.

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One of the cutest things about Chase – He slept in all of our rooms. We left our doors open and he’d visit us all over the course of the night. Two hours in my older sister Janie’s room. Two hours in my younger brother Timothy’s room, and usually more like three hours in mine. Him and I had a special bond. I was born soon after we got him. However, him being born several weeks before me, made him technically older. In dog years anyways.

Him and I grew up together. We learned together, went on adventures and discovered the world together. I would never share that unique friendship with anything else in my life.

And that was just how I viewed him. My brother and sister and parents each had their own relationships with him. Which made the situation easier and more difficult at the same time. We were all struggling. I was upstairs in my room, looking out the window and hoping to see Chase. I thought I did a few times. Always shadows. Always false alarms.

We’d added one number to the posters, our home phone. At first we were going to add Dad’s cell. Then we were going to add Mom’s as well. Then Janie wanted hers on the poster so now there’s just one. The house phone. Simpler that way. No confusion. But I did manage to get my favourite picture of Chase and I on the poster.

We’d spread the search through our neighbourhood and beyond for the better part of two days. One person would stay back at home by the phone, usually mom and one of the kids. But this time it was just me. The four of them splintered off in neighbouring developments, flyering telephone poles and looking down alleyways and through parks.

I wandered the house like a ghost. It felt foreign without anyone there. Especially without Chase. Both nights I thought I heard him walking up the stairs. Coming into my room. Even hopping on my bed. But when I’d check, he was never there.

My hope was fading. Would anyone ever call? At this point, it was still plausible he was alive. More than plausible even. It had only been two nights. Someone could still bring him back. The phone could still ring any second. So why did I feel this dread?

Then, just before dinner, the phone rang. I let it ring three times, saying a quick prayer, to whoever was listening: Please. Let this be about Chase. Mom and dad weren’t religious, so none of us were, really. But I willingly called in this favour… Just this once.

I answered to a gruff, older man on the other end. He asked if I was the owner of Chase. My heart melted.

Chase was alive.

The man, Gary, said he’d been out with his own dog on a walk, and came upon a Golden Retriever, curled up by the stream in a park. Gary’d seen the posters around town and made the connection. He said Chase seemed ill, and had to be carried up to his truck.

Gary’s neighbourhood was the one we canvassed this morning. It was pretty far from ours, and I didn’t know it very well. But I was familiar with the park where he found Chase. Gary said he takes his own dog along a path that runs through the park. But I can’t imagine anyone wanting to walk through there. It was more of a large ravine than a park, and was overgrown with bush and looked like a giant ball of barbed wire.

I gave Gary our address and said the $500 reward would be here waiting. Then I excitedly called my dad and told him the news. He called mom and they all rushed back to be here for Chase’s arrival.

I sat silently for the next ten minutes, in disbelief that this nightmare was finally coming to an end. Chase was on his way home. I secretly hoped they would arrive before my family, so I could have time alone with Chase. These last two days made me realize how truly important he was to my life.

And then, finally, a red pick-up truck pulled into the driveway. And there, sitting in the passenger seat, was Chase.

I flew out the door and down the driveway before the truck had stopped. Gary stepped out, a large smile on his face. You could tell he was someone’s cool uncle. He was very friendly when he introduced himself, but I didn’t really hear anything he said. My animal instincts took over and I went directly to the passenger door. Gary advised me to take it slow, as the dog was acting peculiar.

But I didn’t take it slow. I couldn’t. This was the moment I’d been waiting for. My dog was come home, safe and sound. I pulled the door open and there he was, spread across the front bench.

But he looked different. Bloated. Like his coat was suddenly too tight. And he wasn’t wearing his collar. I approached him slowly and gently pet him. His eyes were squinty and appeared milky like, as if covered in some kind of film, yet he stared right at me.

Hang on, was this even Chase? I mean, it looked like him, minus the missing collar and the bloating. Then I recalled he had a black mole inside his left ear. I immediately lifted his floppy ear and there it was, the same mole I remembered. It was him. It was Chase. I wondered to myself what could possibly have happened to him.

Gary offered to carry Chase inside, but just as he was about to lift him, dad’s car pulled up with mum following behind. Janie and Timothy rushed out of the cars and rushed over to Chase but were greeted with a low growl. They froze in their tracks. He’d never growled at us before. It wasn’t loud and he didn’t bare his teeth or anything, but it was scary.

Dad went inside to grab the reward money while Gary followed carrying Chase. Then we all expressed our gratitude to Gary for contacting us and for his help and then he went on his way.

Now the five of us stood in the entranceway staring down at the dog we loved so much. What had happened to him and where had he spent the past two nights? Was he sick? Was he hurt?

Dad immediately called the Animal Hospital, explained the situation, and luckily the Vet arrived an hour later. But Chase wasn’t friendly and wouldn’t allow the Vet to examine him. He growled and snarled and behaved unlike anything we had ever seen. The Vet suggested we simply give Chase some space to resettle but recommended we keep an eye on him. He assured us he would be back in the morning along with his assistant to conduct a thorough examination and to take blood samples etc.

That was that. The Vet left and we were in charge. Chase got up from the entrance and awkwardly made his way down the hallway and to the basement door… Down he went. We were all perplexed. Chase never went into the basement, he always wanted to be close to us, wherever we were, he was. But tonight was different; he ignored both his food and water dish and settled himself in the basement next to the furnace.

Could he be mad at us? Was he scared? Either possibility made me nauseous. Dad reassured us that Chase would be fine, he just needed some time to rest on his own. We took turns checking in on him and when it was my turn I snuck into the kitchen and got some ground beef from the fridge. But when I brought it down to him he looked even more puffy than before, his paws seemed swollen and sore.

Chase hadn’t touched his water.

He looked up at me, uneasy as I approached. His eyes followed my every move, but I knew there was no way he would turn this down. Chase shifted his weight, now leaning towards me, so I moved closer, within two feet, and then a growl emerged. I stepped back, crouched down, and unrolled the paper towel carefully tossing the ground beef over to him. Just as I thought he would, Chase gobbled it up licking the floor clean. But no sooner had he cleaned up the beef then the growling returned. This time deeper, angrier, hungrier.

I stood up and backed away with my hands out in front for protection. Chase didn’t follow but his eyes were locked on me. Suddenly his lips pulled back exposing his teeth, they looked so much bigger and menacing and his tongue was as black as ink.

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I backed myself right up the stairs as his growl turned into a low mewl.

What had happened to our healthy, friendly dog? Could he have been poisoned or perhaps bitten by a wild rabid critter? I knew he was up to date with all his shots so he should be protected from serious illness.

What was it? What was happening to Chase?
I crawled under the covers that night feeling even worse than I felt when Chase was missing. He seemed to not recognize us and we him. How could he have changed in such a short time? What was the cause of his unusual behaviour?

I was worried to be sure, but was feeling more uneasy than sad, somehow sadness wasn’t my go to. I was afraid. For the first time in my life I closed my bedroom door and locked it before climbing into bed. Although Chase wouldn’t likely be making his way up two sets of stairs, the thought of him possibly jumping into bed with me gave me the shivers.

Laying in bed I thought back to the old days when Chase and I would hunt bullfrogs. Those days seemed so long ago. Now he was a different dog; a snarling, mewling unfamiliar dog sleeping beside the furnace in our basement.

I heard dad go downstairs, probably to check on Chase. I was in a dozy state but I forced myself to stay awake until he returned. I could hear he and my mum whispering from their bedroom. They were afraid too, I could hear it in their voices.

I finally drifted off shortly before midnight. I tossed and turned from one nightmare to another when suddenly I was awakened by a loud scratching sound at my door. I froze in terror. Shit, was it Chase? The scratching got louder and became more desperate with growling and mewling and snarling. There was a banging thud and then repeated thuds hitting the door with force.

Then it stopped. I could hear fast and furious movement out in the hallway followed by a blood curdling scream. Oh my God, what was happening!? It was coming from Janie’s room. There was a deafening commotion of shuffling and yelling and horrible sounds like cattle being fed through a meat grinder.

Then silence, except for footsteps moving back and forth in the hallway. BANG! My door thudded inward over and over, I could see the frame wouldn’t hold out much longer. I pulled myself out of paralysis, rushed over to the window, crawled out onto the over hang and up onto the roof. I was shaking uncontrollably while clutching the base of the chimney.

I could hear my bedroom door crash open and a rush of movement towards my window. There was howling and growling projected out into the night like wolves planning an attack. I could see neighborhood lights coming on while dogs everywhere were joining in with their own alarming howls. I sat in panic and complete stillness until everything quieted down. But before too long a horrific screech came from my bedroom window.  No one came to investigate, no one wanted to witness what kind of madness was unfolding in their neighborhood.

I still couldn’t budge. I sat clinging to the chimney stack straining to not make a peep. Several minutes passed before the silence was again broken. I heard the back door of the house fly open and caught a slight glimpse over my shoulder of something rush out and disappear into the night.

It was the scariest thing I’d ever seen. It moved like a dog. But it wasn’t a dog. And it definitely wasn’t Chase.

I hid on the roof all night, anchored to the chimney stack. It got cold, but that just made me tense tighter. Finally, the sun came up. By this point, I wasn’t scared to go back inside in case the creature returned. I was scared to go inside to see what it did to my family.

Those screams. They were death screams.

I mustered the courage to crawl back through my bedroom window, but nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see. It was as though a bomb had gone off. Everything was either thrown about or shredded, and blood was splattered and smeared throughout. There was no way I was hanging around here. Calling out for my family, I made my way into the hallway. But it looked like a slaughterhouse. There were body pieces strewn about. My father was chewed in half. What in Gods name happened here? The shock was now starting to take affect but I somehow managed to navigate through the carnage and down the stairs.

I remember being in the kitchen and dialling 911 but not being able to explain the situation.

Chase was nowhere to be seen on the main floor but I noticed a bloody trail with patches of fur leading to the basement door. I grabbed two knives from the drawer and made my way down the steps. It was dark and I could barely see, but something was in the corner by the furnace. I called out to Chase….no movement or sound. As I moved closer to the object it looked like Chase except it wasn’t him. It was a pile of skin and fur…but then I saw a tail, that was Chase’s tail, I knew that tail. It was like something had worn him as a coat. I gasped and threw up.

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I ran upstairs, placed the knives back in the drawer, and minutes later greeted the police. The next several hours were gruelling and played out like a horrific nightmare. It was a nightmare. I went over all the details with the police; how we’d lost Chase, how he’d been found in a strange and disturbing state… They didn’t seem to believe me however the messy scene spoke for itself. It was obvious some kind of wild and dangerous animal had turned this house into a blood bath.

My grandparents were summoned to pick me up. The rest of the night was spent in sadness and disbelief. They were in shock and so was I. One thing I knew for sure was that I was going to find that thing and destroy it, and the first place I’d look would be the ravine Gary spoke of.

A week later, I asked my Grandparents if they’d be up for a walk. I told them I was sad and needed some time to think, and asked if we could drive down to my favourite park. They agreed, and after breakfast, we were packed in the car.

The park was only a twenty minute drive. My grandparents were surprised that this was where I wanted to go, it wasn’t much more than a ravine surrounded by a few bike paths and trails. We jumped on one trail and walked for a kilometre or two. Before too long Gramma was feeling tired and weary from the night before and she and grandpa headed back to the car. They told me to take my time and enjoy the solitude.

I kept walking on the trail, going over the events of the night before. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for but when I happened upon a stream it suddenly hit me that it was probably the same stream where Gary had discovered Chase. I was now following the stream which wound its way through some denser forest and then out into clearing. From there it flowed down a culvert and out a large sewage pipe.

The sewage grate had been broken away leaving the pipe open and exposed. Something immediately caught my eye. Something blue. I walked over, leaned down and picked it up. It was a dog collar, old and weathered but still holding the name tag which read “Wally”. I made my way closer to the entrance and stuck my head inside. It was cold inside and smelled bad, like rotten bad. My eyes watered from the stench, but as they adjusted to the darkness I noticed a shiny object. It was another tag attached to another dog collar, bloody, with bits of fur caught in the buckle… It was red with a black stripe just like Chase’s. It was Chase’s. There was his name, right there on the tag… Tears welled in my eyes.

My eyes began to adjust to the darkness, and I could see a shape a few feet further into the tunnel. It was a dog. About the same size as Chase, but without fur or skin.

My eyes adjusted further, and there was another light glint behind it, with another mound of skinned dog further back. And another mound. And another. And more collars. And more skinned dogs. There were a dozen of them in the same state. Skinned and furless.

My mind raced. Something had been taking their skin… Their coats… And wore them. Was that creature I saw… Posing as our pets to get inside our homes?

I backed out of the pipe and threw up in the stream. Once my stomach settled, I ran back through the bush to the main path and followed it out to the parking lot to my grandparents car. I was still holding Chase’s collar, and slipped it in my pocket.

When we got back to my grandparents, I looked up the name “Wally” online for missing dogs in the area, and found him. He’d been lost a few months ago in a neighbourhood on the other side of town. His family was now dead. An unsolved animal attack.

I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out what to do. I needed a plan and I needed it fast. I’m going back to the park in the morning to wait for that thing to return. But I’m going with my grandma’s bear mace and grandpa’s wood-chopping axe.

If the creature doesn’t come back tomorrow, I’ll wait for it the next day. And the next day. And the next.

But, in the mean time, if you’re reading this and your dog goes missing, be careful if it comes back. It might be something else.

Credit : 10minutehorror

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