Right out of high school, I used to work for a veterinary hospital. A lot of clients asked me if I ever considered pet sitting, so a side business was formed. Not only would I watch over the animals, but also collect the mail, secure the premises, and water household (and outdoor) plants.
I received a call from Mrs. Peterson who asked if I could watch her cocker spaniel, Waggles, for 10 days. She actually wanted me to stay at her house the whole time, which I would do occasionally on a first come, first serve basis (I can’t be in two places at once, people!). So I scheduled her and agreed to stay at her house.
A few days before her departure, I dropped by to get the house keys and receive any instructions for taking care of Waggles and the house. The name fit the dog, because he didn’t just wag his tail, but his rear end was all over the place when he got excited. He really was one of the sweetest dogs.
She gave me a tour of her house, which was huge. Her husband was President of Kraft Foods and she lived across the street from Ross Perot, so now you get the idea of what kind of house this was. I’ve drawn a picture of the house (don’t judge my artistic skillz, yo) so you can get a better idea:
The house was square and was framed around an outdoor courtyard. The red box are windows surrounding a large tree (green circle) that grew outside. Pretty cool, huh?
Anyway, my first night there, I was laying on the couch watching TV. Since I had arrived, I had the unsettled feeling that I was being watched. I shrugged it off thinking that maybe the outside courtyard and all the windows was giving me the willies. However, my feelings were so unsettled, that I didn’t feel comfortable walking down the hall to go to sleep in the guest bedroom. It was even too eerie for me to walk around to make sure windows were closed and locked. I did check the front door, though, and it was secure. Besides, it was summertime so I didn’t suspect any windows would have been open because the air conditioner was running. Ever been in Texas during the summer? Yeah, windows are closed! So, instead of going to the guest room, I decided to sleep on the couch. Waggles laid down on the floor next to me.
At around 3:00am, I was awoken by Waggles barking. I raised up and looked at him. He was facing the hallway and sounded downright vicious. As he continued his protest, he began backing up, still staring down the hallway. My first thought was that someone had gotten into the house. I called out, “Hello?” (yeah, I know, I know…typical horror movie chick walking straight to the killer, right?) There was no answer. Obviously. Would a killer truly answer? Hell no. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end and goosebumps formed on my arms. Out of complete terror, my eyes started to tear up. I couldn’t explain the feeling. I grabbed a baseball bat that was sitting behind a chair in the corner of the living room and forced myself to check out the house. It was sealed tight. Relieved that nobody was in the house, I went to go quiet Waggles down, but he wasn’t having it. All of a sudden, the stereo, which was housed in the entertainment center below the TV came on full blast. I had to cover my ears. Waggles was still barking and was now backed up near the kitchen. I went over and turned off the stereo. Still feeling as if I was being watched, the eerie sensation grew stronger. I grabbed my keys, told Waggles he was on his own and left. I went home to sleep off the next few hours.
The next night, I tried to sleep there again. I claimed the couch and began watching TV, laughing off the previous night, thinking my imagination had gotten the best of me. I got up to use the bathroom and when I walked in, the sink turned on full blast. I shut it off, grabbed my keys, and left.
Mrs. Peterson had a baby grand piano in the living room and the lid was open. One time, I went over there and played a few notes. Once I began, Waggles hopped up on the couch and flipped over. You know how some dogs will kick their legs when their belly’s are rubbed? Well, that is what Waggles was doing. I stopped playing the piano and Waggles stopped kicking. I started playing again and he started all over again. I though, “Huh. The dog must really like the piano.” Anyway, I made sure Waggles had food and water, pet the top of his head and told him I’d be back after work.
When I arrived that evening, the stereo was going full blast again, the water in the bathroom was flowing, and the piano lid was closed. I fed Waggles, grabbed my keys, and said out loud, “I’m not staying here another night!”
Every day after that, I would go by and take care of Waggles in the morning, afternoon, and night, but I refused to stay. It got to the point that I would place the mail in the garage, and scoot the dogs water and food bowls through the doggie door. Yeah, I was that scared.
When Mrs. Peterson came back home, I drove back over there to (happily) return her keys. We were standing in the kitchen and she asked how things went.
Me: I have to be honest with you, Mrs. Peterson. I didn’t stay here after the second night.
I gave a nervous laugh and continued:
Me: Some strange things are going on in your house and I didn’t feel comfortable.
Mrs. Peterson looked at me in a VERY serious manner and I thought, “Oh hell. She’s pissed,” but instead, she asked, “Why? What happened to you?”
The goosebumps and tears returned as I recounted the strange things that happened while I was there.
Mrs. Peterson (nodding): The same things have happened to me.
Me (in a high pitched voice): Don’t you think that might have been helpful information before I agreed to stay here?
Mrs. Peterson: Let me tell you a story.
Me: Oh, shit.
She told me that she had twin boys. One of the boys was killed in a drunk driving accident at 3:00am a year prior. Since then, strange things had been going on in the house. He loved to play the stereo really loud, he loved to play the piano, and occasionally, he would absently forget to turn off the water in the bathroom. Waggles was her son’s dog. She said she believed that it was his way of letting her know that he was still around.
Me: Well, he didn’t have to let me know. I was fine being clueless.
I continued to look after Waggles, but Mrs. Peterson understood why I wouldn’t stay the night ever again.