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A chilling tale with a ghost dog in the journalist’s house

Dutch-Canadian-American journalist Pierre van Paassen (1895-1968) published a book in 1940 titled “Days of Our Years,” in which he described an astonishing incident where he encountered a ghostly dog in his own home.

Van Paassen’s work took him to various corners of the world – he covered conflicts between the British, Arabs, Jews, and French in the Middle East, worked in Africa highlighting issues of slave trade and colonialism, then wrote about the Spanish Civil War, the threat of a new world war due to Hitler, and so forth. He even spent 10 days in the Dachau concentration camp.

He had been on the brink of death many times, including surviving several assassination attempts, so he was not easily frightened or surprised. However, sometimes such occurrences did happen. This particular paranormal incident took place in the early 1930s when he was living in France.

“Sitting alone in my room one night, I often heard a faint tapping echoing through the walls. I dismissed it from my mind and for many years paid little attention to the sound. After all, we had two German shepherds at home, and the bolts and locks on the doors were secure. So, there was no risk of intrusion by any ‘unwanted guests’ and no significant noise apart from occasional tapping.

Furthermore, I didn’t believe in supernatural phenomena. On my mother’s side of the family, there was a tradition of believing in a house ghost. But that ghost remained there in Holland, attached to its traditional haunts. Obviously, ghosts don’t cross oceans, and stories I had heard about it had almost faded from my memory.

One winter evening, feeling the room getting chilly, assuming the coal in the stove was dwindling, I went down to the basement to toss in a few more shovelfuls. It must have been around eleven o’clock.

Returning to my room afterward, ascending the stairs, I felt something rush past me. Turning around, I saw a large black dog bounding down the steps.

I must say I was more astonished than alarmed. I descended, turned on all the lights in the house, and then proceeded to search every room for the animal. But I couldn’t find it.

Then, I unlocked the front door and called my shepherds into the house. They showed no signs of agitation, although their sense of smell was so acute that when I petted them somewhere during one of my trips, whether in Moscow or Damascus or wherever, they would recognize me and wag their tails, sniffing my clothes upon my return home. But this time, they remained unaffected. The black dog I saw apparently left no trace behind. I returned to my room and found the door open, though I was sure I had closed it before going downstairs.

The following night, at the same hour, I heard noise on the stairs, sounds as if a dog were quickly descending. The noise came from the second staircase, which had no carpet. I threw open my room door and illuminated the corridor. I saw the same black dog scampering down the stairs. And then a shiver ran down my spine.

I conducted another investigation and let the shepherds into the house again. No signs of the intruder…

I didn’t speak to any of the household members about these incidents, not wanting to disturb anyone’s peace of mind. Nevertheless, the phenomenon recurred regularly, like clockwork, for several subsequent evenings. Then it ceased as abruptly as it had started.

Soon after, I had to travel to Romania on assignment for the newspaper, and I was away for five weeks. Upon my return, I was informed that the maid was quitting her job because she didn’t want to work in a house with ghosts. She had already begun spending her nights elsewhere.

I questioned the girl. She said that several times during the night, she was awakened by a large black dog that opened her room door and walked around inside.

“You must have been dreaming,” I said. “There’s no black dog in this house, and I don’t know of any in the entire village.” But the girl still didn’t want to stay with us.

The matter became serious. Villagers now began to stop me and ask about ghosts. Finally, I confided in my neighbor, Krevékür, and he suggested coming over to spend the night in the servants’ room to unravel the mystery.”

One evening, he arrived around half past ten with his 19-year-old son. They armed themselves with heavy sticks, and Mr. Krevékür even brought along his army revolver. We sat in my room with the door wide open and all the lights in the house turned on at full power. And we waited.

And indeed, right at eleven o’clock, we heard the sound of dog paws trotting down the stairs from the second floor. We rushed into the corridor, all three of us, but at first, we saw nothing until young Krevékür exclaimed, “There it is!”

A large black dog stood at the foot of the staircase in the vestibule below. The dog looked at us. Krevékür whistled, and the dog wagged its tail. We began to descend the stairs, never taking our eyes off the ghostly dog. But we had barely taken three steps when the outline of the dog became fainter and soon disappeared altogether. Then we searched again, but found no dog. The rest of the night, the Krevékyurs stayed in the house, and we all slept peacefully.

There were still two years left on the lease, and being poor, I couldn’t afford to forfeit such a large rent by moving out. Moreover, I decided to see it through: after all, as long as the ghost dog didn’t bite or bark, its brief presence every night was quite tolerable. Although it was unpleasant, and our nerves were gradually wearing thin, we had to accept it. There was no other way. We tried to joke about it, dubbed it “Fido, the phantom poodle,” and shrugged when someone asked about the ghost. At the same time, no one in our house now dared to close their eyes before eleven o’clock at night.

One evening, I decided – I don’t know why this idea hadn’t occurred to me earlier – to bring our two German shepherds into my room and have them here before the ghost dog made its presence known, rather than after. But this led to a horrible scene.

The dogs pricked up their ears at the first sound on the stairs and lunged toward the door. The sound of thudding footsteps, as usual, came from below, but I saw nothing. I don’t know what my dogs saw, but their fur bristled, and they snarled, retreating back into my room, baring their teeth.

Soon they began to howl as if in unbearable pain, snapping and biting in all directions as if fighting some fierce enemy. I had never seen them in such a deadly panic. I couldn’t come to their aid because I saw nothing to strike with the cudgel I held in my hand.

The battle with the invisible enemy lasted less than two minutes. Then one of my dogs let out a scream as if in death throes, fell to the floor, and died.

I was like a man struck by paralysis. I was still shaking from head to toe when there was a knock on the front door, and I opened it. It was my kind neighbor, Mr. Krevékür. He made me drink some water, and the first words I uttered, coming to my senses, were: “I’m moving out of here tomorrow. I’ll be damned if I stay for another day!”

I told him what had happened. Krevékür inspected the dead shepherd and his cowering brother, who whimpered quietly in the corner, still trembling like a leaf.

“Tomorrow I’ll inform the mayor,” I said.

“Why?” asked Mr. Krevékür.

“I want to make an official statement that there are ghosts in this house. He may send gendarmes to investigate.”

“In fact, the person you need to send for is Father de la Ruder,” replied my neighbor. “The gendarmes won’t help here. For that, you need a priest. He’ll rid you of the ghost if anyone can. Priests have a secret formula by which they exorcise ghosts.”

The next morning, I went to see this abbot. He had already heard about the mysterious events in our house. Instead of treating the matter lightly or joking about it, Mr. de la Ruder was very serious. He promised to come to us the same evening.

Krevékür also came with his son. The abbot was at the house exactly at ten o’clock. We took turns standing watch in my room again and drank a glass of warm wine because the night was cold and it was snowing. We left the door open so we could see the staircase leading to the second floor.

Finally, the pendulum struck eleven. We waited silently for the final stroke. When the sound subsided, we heard the sound of dog paws upstairs. I began to tremble with fear. I don’t want to boast, but I had never been afraid of a physical enemy. I don’t recall trembling in a conflict zone. Yet that night, I was weak with fear. My nerves were on edge.

As soon as the abbot, who was sitting closest to the door, heard the noise, he quietly stood up and took a few steps toward the exit. I stood next to him. The footsteps on the stairs ceased. A large black dog stood on the steps, looking straight at the priest. The animal wagged its tail.

The abbot said nothing, but his eyes were fixed directly on the apparition. He took a step forward, and the dog emitted a low growl. Then its outlines blurred, and soon it disappeared. The abbot returned to my room.

“Now we can calmly drink,” he said.

“And sleep?” I asked.

“And sleep,” he said. “It’s all over.”

We called the “Golden Lion” café to order a taxi. When we heard the sound of the approaching car, the abbot wrapped himself in his cloak, and I escorted him to the exit. When I put my hand on the bolt, he stopped me and turned me aside.

“You have a young girl of fourteen or fifteen living in your house, don’t you?” he asked.

“Yes, Mr. Abbot, we have a girl running errands for us. I think she’s fifteen. Her mother, Madame Germain, recommended her to us – you know her. Why do you ask?”

“Pay her a monthly salary and let her go!” said the abbot.

“You don’t mean to say this girl has anything to do with the ghost?”

“Of course, I do,” he smiled. “Such poltergeist cases are often associated with girls in the period of sexual maturity. But this is the first time I’ve seen something like this take the form of a dog. But you have nothing to worry about now; you should have called me earlier.”

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