The Ghost of Peter
Peter lived next door to us when I was a very young child. The photo above is not Peter but he did look a lot like this. He was a black and tan mongrel type of dog about the size of a smallish Labrador. He was probably crossed with terrier of some sort as well.
Peter was a wonderful dog. I am going back many years now and in those days our dogs did not wear collars or have leads. They would follow their owner about or just wander the streets at will.
The road we lived in was unmade and there were not many cars about either. The street had only a few houses in it and was surrounded by fields so Peter and the other dogs were fairly safe.
Peter generally followed us kids wherever we went. He was a kind of companion. A playmate. He played with us and we played with him.
One day I saw the boy next door come out of his house and walk up the road followed by Peter. Then the boy told Peter, ‘go home’. And he did! I was truly amazed at this. Peter went back down the road and stood at the gate and the boy went off to town on the bus.
I was so impressed with Peter that I tried it. With hind sight I realise now that I was teasing him. I would walk up the road and say, ‘come on Peter’ and he would wag his tail and coming running after me. Then I would say, ‘go home Peter’, and he would put his head down and his tail between his legs and he would go back and stand by the gate. I did this a few times and then called him and he was so thrilled to be following me and going off to play.
One night, many years later we heard Peter howling all night long. We lived in a semi detached house and you could often hear the neighbours. This sound of Peter howling throughout the night was very disturbing.
Later that morning my mother came and told us that Peter had been put to sleep as he had had a brain hemorrhage. We were all very upset, Peter’s family and our family and the neighbourhood kids whom he accompanied on our adventures.
Peter’s owner, who I shall call Grace, said that she could not replace Peter and would never have another dog in the house again.
However some months later Grace told my mother that she had decided to get another puppy. My mother was not sure exactly when the new puppy would arrive because she remembered Grace saying that she could never bring herself to have another dog.
A few weeks after that my mum was busy in her kitchen when she heard whimpering. She was quite startled by it and listened a while and it continued. She thought that Grace must have bought a new puppy after all and she went running round to the neighbour’s house to see the new little dog.
Often, back then, we did not lock our gates or back doors and neighbours freely went in and out of each others homes. So my mum opened the back door of Grace’s house and asked, ‘where’s the puppy then?’ Grace just stood and looked at my mum and as she could still hear the whimpering she thought it was some kind of a joke so she began opening doors searching for the new puppy. She opened a cupboard at the bottom of the stairs and then the pantry door and still she could hear the crying. Once again she asked Grace where she had hidden the puppy and Grace just stood there looking at my mum. My mother then went upstairs and looked in each of the bedrooms and the bathroom as she could still hear the cry of an animal.
In the end she gave up and said, ‘okay, I give in then. Where is your new puppy?’
Grace then replied, ‘It’s Peter. It’s Peter. He has been crying ever since I decided to go and buy another puppy.’
Apparently Grace had been hearing the ghost or spirit of Peter whimpering ever since she decided to have another puppy in the house. However it was only on this one day that my mother had heard him.
Grace never did have another dog of her own after that.
Barbara Burgess © 07/03/2015
mage courtesy of James Barker at FreeDigitalPhotos.net