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My dog won’t stop staring at me. Sounds like a trivial problem, I know- just ignore her, or block her view, or shift location. But after weeks and weeks on end, I’ve finally had enough of it. And having that creeping sensation come over your skin, that feeling that you’re surely being watched- I guarantee that you’d have had enough, too. She’s a small dog, a little mixed breed named Ruby I picked up by chance one afternoon. I was particularly bummed out driving home from the doctor’s office when they confirmed that the throbbing, burning ache in my shoulder was enough to take me out of the sport I so loved- lacrosse, which is what got me to my school in the first place, on scholarship. And now I was out of the game, maybe for the whole season, and when I saw those big black eyes peering out at me from the dog shelter, I figured I could use a companion. At first her gaze seemed nice, even a bit cute. But now? I can’t get those eyes off of me, no matter what I do.
It started not long after I brought her home. I’d already been warned that it will take a dog a few days to get acclimated to its new surroundings, but luckily she was already house-trained and my apartment is carpeted, so no risk of clawing up the floor, and it turned out she’s a rather easygoing dog. I live on the first floor, so she can go outside when she likes, but more often she’s in the living room with me, lounging around in her dog bed or next to me on the couch when I’m doing my homework or surfing the web. Even when I’m gone she isn’t destructive, and to my surprise, hasn’t chewed or slobbered or peed on anything in my absence.
She’s usually well-behaved like that- but then, the staring began. For a few days I dismissed it as nothing. After all, she was new to this place and I thought she just craved attention, being stuck in that shelter for God knows how long. Most of the time after her staring, she’d wait patiently for me to pat the couch cushion, giving her permission to jump on and curl up next to me. I figured the staring was her way of asking for things. When I wasn’t in the room with her, she would frantically begin to sniff and search for me all over the apartment as if I’d abandoned her, whining quietly. The noise began to get on my nerves, and so I started sending her outside.
This place didn’t come with a big backyard, but it was fenced and a decent size for a small dog, so I’d let her stay out and run around. And again, at first, that’s what she did- rolled on her back, did her business, pawed the grass and all that stuff dogs usually do. But sooner or later I’d find her an inch away from the sliding glass door, her big wet eyes begging to be let back in, and so I would, with some unease. She seemed to spend less and less time out there, using it only to go to the bathroom, and wanted to have more and more time with me. I’ve never liked the feeling of being watched- as far back as I can remember I’ve hated having that sickly, creepy-crawly sensation that I’m not alone, and even when she was in the other room I swear I could feel it. Her whining turned to plaintive wails and little doggy howls every minute I was out of her sight.
Like I said, I’m living here on my own and I tried not to let it bother me- even when she moved from sleeping at the foot of the bed to practically right up against me. Even as I lay there trying to sleep she would just stare and stare. I thought maybe her former owners were abusive, or that they didn’t show her any affection. When I took her to get the shots she needed, I even asked the veterinarian, but she shrugged it off as being normal dog behavior, possibly just a little more clingy than most. “She just wants to be close to you,” the vet told me. “A lot of dogs stare- it’s not uncommon.” Maybe she was right. The retriever in the waiting room seemed to gaze unending at me too- like I said, I never liked that feeling. So I tried to accept that some dog behaviors might just be weird that way.
And yet as time went on, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the staring had become more… intense, somehow. Like she was looking really deeply at me. That was when I started to get annoyed. Sure, she’s just a dog, but why would she incessantly need to look at me like that? It didn’t matter if she was yards across the room or right beside me on the sofa. Her giant, forlorn-looking eyes bore holes through me. It was unnerving.
I started to move around, positioning my laptop so that when she was on the floor or in her doggy bed, I couldn’t see her. But call me crazy, I swear I could FEEL her staring at me. To make matters worse, the crying turned into full-on barking whenever we weren’t together. I’d send her outside for a while but she just sat at the front step waiting to be let back in. It’s not that I didn’t care about my dog anymore- I just couldn’t get a break from the constant pleading eyes. And so I decided to willfully ignore her. I still filled her bowls with food and water, still let her out to the yard and back in, even left her a treat now and then, but otherwise I didn’t want to be around her.
It didn’t help that I was now spending a lot more time at home- watching my college team play without me had grown more than a little miserable, and finally I just stopped showing up. The doctor thought it might be my rotator cuff, and other than some physical therapy exercises and icing it, there was nothing more to be done for it. It wasn’t bad enough for surgery, but not well enough for me to go back to lacrosse, at least for now. And aspirin didn’t seem to touch it, so not only was I home a lot more, but I was in significant pain when my left shoulder started acting up. And there was my dog Ruby, just staring away like it was her goal in life to annoy me.
Last night I’d finally had enough. “Go outside!” I shouted, sliding open the glass door with my good arm. The dog meekly trotted onto the steps and sat down. “Good, and STAY there!” I closed her out and walked away, agitated and with my shoulder twitching painfully, still knowing that she was watching me through the damn door. Her wide, soulful eyes followed me down the hall and even when I was in my living room, at an angle from the backyard and out of view completely, I didn’t feel alone. I could SENSE her looking at me. I went to the fridge and got a beer, and then another, and it was a couple more before I finally realized how late it had gotten, and that I had left Ruby outside for so long on a chilly night.
I was actually feeling sorry for her as I walked over, a little tipsy, to retrieve my dog. I mean, she’s just an animal. It’s what they do, right? But sure enough, when I got there I found her looking directly into my eyes through the glass door. It may have been the beer, but I could swear those eyes looked almost human. And they wouldn’t. Stop. Staring.
I flung open the door in anger so hard it hit the edge and nearly slid back, and grabbed Ruby by the collar, dragging her inside and shutting it behind me. “STOP THIS! Do you understand me? Why do you have to always stare at me?!?” Later when I’d sobered up, I realized how ridiculous this whole thing must have seemed- me shouting drunk demands at a small dog- but I’d had it with her completely. Her eyes answered back with a mournful gaze. That was it.
“You sleep here tonight, understand? YOU made me do this!” I practically threw her into the hard metal crate I’d gotten at the shelter, lined at the bottom with a dingy old blanket, which I’d never made her sleep the whole night in. I knew she didn’t like the crate, but I took a kind of perverse glee in that fact, and she let out an unhappy whine as I fastened the crate door shut, her eyes still darting to meet mine. I ignored her occasional cries and went back to my beer, which to my disappointment did very little to ease the sharp pains in my shoulder. I’d probably end up back at the doctor’s at this rate.
Knowing I would have to pass her crate to get to my bedroom, I admit I stalled a little, tidying up the room and tossing out the empty bottles, but eventually I had to face it. Without giving Ruby or the crate so much as a glance, I walked down the hall, shut the bedroom door and gingerly got into my bed. Maybe I was wrong to get a dog after all. I would have to think on it more, when I was sober, and address the problem in the morning, maybe with another visit to the vet. Maybe she was just sick. I mean, I have no idea why a dog would act this way.
Ruby glared as best she could as soon as her master entered her field of vision, but her human seemed wobbly and unhappy with her. Upon their shuffling into the kitchen she whimpered softly and drew herself back towards the corner of the crate. Her owner didn’t even take a moment to look over at her. The entity behind them, however, did. She was always trying to break it down, to make it leave her master alone, but it would only sink its claw deeper into their shoulder and tighten its grip. And so the entity spread its ropy black lips and flashed the dog rows of smiling needle teeth, trailing as it always did directly behind her master.
Credit To – TheJinx