Tuesday, 7 October 2008
The White Dog - A Strange Tale
It was bitterly cold. The radio announcements were telling people not to venture out into the blizzard. I was determined so Mike carefully drove to the hospital.
My Mother had taken a turn for the worse. I found her in a bad way. Nevertheless the Ward Sister assured us that she was still likely to make a recovery. It was late, long after visiting hours as I sat and brushed her hair and held her hand. Then we were asked to leave. We were told we could do nothing and the night staff did not want us getting in the way. We argued but in the end had no option but to go. We somehow made it home through the blinding snow.
One hour later the call came. I knew. I told the Sister even before she had the chance to break the news. I was devastated. I never got to say goodbye, my Mother died alone. Three days later we stood in thick snow in the cemetery, battered by the wind, the cold almost freezing the tears on our faces.
That night it snowed again and on the following day. The day after that the snow still lay thick and deep. I had the urge to go to the cemetery to say my goodbye without a crowd of people around me. Mike did not want to take the car out but he knew how badly I was feeling so eventually agreed. The journey was only a mile but it seemed to take forever as we crawled along the icy roads. We reached the cemetery. It was deserted. Nobody else had ventured out in this treacherous weather.
We put the car in the parking area and turned to close the car doors. My stomach lurched. How was I going to find the grave? Snow covered everything. There had been quite a few burials around the same time but all that could be seen was mounds of snow. At that early stage there were no headstones or gravemarkers, the flowers were completely buried. Neither Mike nor myself was sure which one was the correct one. We stood by the car discussing the situation when I happened to glance down the central avenue, the one which we had to walk down and there, a few yards away, was a little white dog.
When I say white, it was more yellow or cream. A white dog might look just that in other circumstances but against the stark whiteness of the snow the dog could not compete. I thought how strange it was. There was nobody in the cemetery, no-one who could have owned the dog. I reached out to it and spoke softly. The dog just ran on ahead a little way and then stopped. We followed. So it went on, the dog would run ahead for a little then stop and look at us.
We continued to look around trying to pinpoint the exact location. Suddenly a startled bird let out a loud cry and flew up from a tree. We naturally turned to look. When we looked back, the little white dog had disappeared. My eyes scanned around searching for it. Then my stomach went into a tight knot. On one of the graves sat the little white dog. I gripped Mike's arm. For some reason I just knew. I felt sure it was my Mother's grave.
I told Mike. He thought it strange but nothing more and told me it could by any grave. We left the avenue and walked across the deep snow that covered the grass. Once again something distracted us, neither of us can remember what. When we looked again the little dog had gone. We went to exactly where it had been sitting and with my gloved hand I scrabbled in the snow. I immediately uncovered part of the very cross of flowers I had ordered for my Mother. I uncovered more, Mike and I both dug frantically. Yes, it was her grave. I cried with relief. Mike and I stood in silence and then he wandered off to look for the dog whilst I said my last Goodbyes.
He came back puzzled and asked whether the dog had passed me. I said no. We looked around. No sign of a white dog anywhere. The cemetery was securely fenced, it could not have got out through there. Mike had been on the main avenue and it had not passed him. I was worried about it. I had noticed it wore no collar, it did not seem to belong to anyone. I decided it we could find it we should take it home and feed it until we could contact a rescue service.
Mike walked up and down between all the rows of graves - no dog. I searched behind bushes - no dog. We made our way back to the car and sat there for a while watching. All was still, all was quiet. I got Mike to walk to the main gate and look up and down the main road where he could clearly see in both directions - no dog. We sat in the car again and discussed this strange incident. Where did the dog come from? Why had it sat on the exact grave we were looking for? Why was nobody with it? We were extremely puzzled.
Suddenly a realisation gripped me. I shouted to Mike to come with me. We set off towards the grave. I said to Mike - "Do you see?" He asked what I was talking about. "There are no pawprints, Mike, no pawprints." It was true. On the main avenue there were only our prints, around and on the grave there were only our prints. No tracks leading in any direction. There were no pawprints of any animal whatsoever!
I was not scared. I felt happy. Somehow we had been shown the correct grave and I was able to say a proper farewell to my Mother.
Time passed and the memory of that day faded into the distance. Several years later, on CB radio, we became friends with a man who turned out to be local. We arranged to meet and several times we visited each other. It was not until about our third meeting that he happened to say that he had been a gravedigger for about twenty years - and told us that he had experienced many strange things when digging graves, particularly when he was alone.
He happened to mention the word "dog." Immediately the memory came flooding back of that snowy day. I told him what had happened. He nodded quietly. "I believe you" he said, "did you know that among gravediggers it is said that a white dog represents the soul of the dear departed?" Then he told us he had encountered white dogs several times and they always disappeared. I sat stunned. I had never heard this before. I do not know if this is a local or worldwide belief but after Dave told us that, I was and remain sure that the soul or spirit of my Mother herself showed us her final resting place. She wanted to say goodbye to me as much as I wanted to say goodbye to her.
Is this a true story? Yes, it happened to us just as described and we both saw the dog. Do you believe it? Well, dear readers, I leave it up to you to make up your own minds.