Haunted hound

He may be dead, but there's plently of life left in the old dog yet...

Published by: Karen Armstrong
Published on: 15th March 2010

Those big brown eyes could have melted the coldest heart. Our golden labrador puppy, the newest addition to our family, had us well and truly wrapped around his little tail.
There was just one thing…
‘Crunchie! Stop chewing the table legs!’ I yelled.
We’d called our new pup Crunchie because he wouldn’t stop chewing and crunching his way through our furniture.
‘Leave the poor mite alone,’ my husband Colin cooed, scooping Crunchie up into his arms, who frantically licked his face.
‘Time for walkies,’ winked Colin.
So off they went, one man and his dog. Crunchie loved running through the fields. I knew he’d be putting muddy paw prints everywhere when he got home.
A few hours later, I heard a familiar scratching noise at the back door. Crunchie was home!
From when he was a few weeks old, he’d always scratched the back or front door to let us know he was back from his walk.
Covered in muck, he tried nuzzling into my lap. ‘Crunchie, you stink,’ I laughed.
‘He fell in a ditch, then rolled in cow’s muck,’ Colin laughed.
‘Yeah, he’s got that yucky damp-dog smell!’ I said.
‘He needs a bath!’ Colin said.
For years, Crunchie was the baby of the family. Our daughter Jen, now 24, loved him.
But as he got older, he got a bit slower and greyer. ‘Poor thing,’ I sighed, watching Crunchie hobble outside. He’d been diagnosed with arthritis, and I wasn’t sure how much longer he’d be with us.
‘He’s fine,’ insisted Colin. ‘Plenty of life in the old dog.’
But our vet confirmed our worst fears. ‘He’s 17 and crippled with arthritis,’ he said. ‘It would be kinder to let him go.’
‘No way,’ Colin yelled. ‘He’s part of the family.’
‘Colin,’ I said, softly. ‘It’s time.’
So with heavy hearts, we agreed Crunchie should be put to sleep.
‘Bye, old boy,’ we sobbed, as he took his last breath.
We drove home in silence. Then later that night, I heard Colin sniffing in the kitchen. ‘What are you doing?’ I frowned.
He was bent over on all fours
sniffing the kitchen floor!
‘I can smell Crunchie!’ he said. ‘The way he’d pong when he came back from a walk.’
‘Colin, have you gone mad?’ I sighed. ‘He’s gone.’
Bless, he was having trouble letting go. Yet, six months later…
‘There’s scratching at the door!’ Colin said, bolting out of the living room to the back door.
‘Crunchie, here boy!’ he called.
This was beyond a joke! ‘Colin, you’ve lost the plot!’ I grumbled.
‘No, he’s here, I heard scratching at the back door,’ Colin insisted. ‘I’m serious, can’t you feel he’s here?!’
But I couldn’t…
For nine long years, Colin was adamant he could hear and smell Crunchie. ‘You’re mad,’ I’d sigh. 
I thought that until one day, arms full of shopping, I struggled in my front door. As I unpacked, I heard a scratching noise at the door. It sounded like… no, it couldn’t be, could it? Crunchie? Surely not…
‘Here, boy,’ I said without thinking, opening the front door. And there it was – my purse containing £200, on the step. I must’ve dropped it. ‘It was Crunchie,’ Colin, 58, said later. ‘He was helping you out.’
‘It was a coincidence,’ I replied.
Then, a week later, scratch, scratch, scratch at the door.
No, not again. Crunchie?
‘Here, boy…’ I gasped, opening the front door. Just as I did that, I spotted yobs trying to break into my Hyundai. ‘Get lost,’ I yelled. ‘I’m calling the police.’
The gang ran off. But, if it hadn’t been for the scratching, they would’ve stolen my car.
It seemed Colin might be right. Crunchie had come back as a ghost, and had warned me.
‘See,’ Colin smirked. ‘I don’t like to say “I told you so.”’
‘All right, I admit I think Crunchie’s ghost is here,’ I smiled.
It’s comforting to know our dog loves us so much. Like Lassie, our Crunchie really has come home…
Mandy Miller, 56, Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire