In March of 2009, I started working for a small book publishers in South-Western New Hampshire. The business was run out of the owners' attic, and employees consisted of myself, my assistant, the Shipping Manager, the VP and the President. We also had three people that worked in the warehouse - Like I said, the place was SMALL. The building itself was erected in the mid 1700's and is replete with great plank floors, original glass, antiques, the works - your typical, New Hampshire farmstead. While everyone that worked at this company knew the building was haunted, and had, had experiences (myself included - maybe I'll write about that another time!), this was completely unexpected.
My bosses had two dogs, Sadie and Tessie. Sadie is a black lab, and full of spunk; while Tessie was a chocolate lab with equal parts love and health problems. She had eaten a paperclip when she was a puppy (yepp) and in addition to several internal injuries she sustained, she also developed kidney and bladder problems. Something also happened with her brain over time, so she developed some very peculiar-to-her habits. One of these habits was refusing to come up the stairs into the attic without a person - she would scramble up the small three-step flight to the landing, stop, and whine to be let up the other twelve steps. After a few weeks working at the publishers, I took it upon myself to be Tessie's Helper, and would sooth her up the tumultuous flight of stairs. Eventually, after long enough of knowing me and trusting me to be her reliable Stair-and-Outdoorsies Buddy, Tessie would lie underneath my desk with her head on my feet. We became very close, and even though she was not my dog, I loved her to absolute bits.
The first winter with this company wound up being rather harsh for Tessie's health. She went into the hospital several times for refusing to eat, she would throw up, she would sleep all the time - very sick, and tired, and it broke my heart to see her that way. Then, all of a sudden, she had a second breath of wind! She was perfectly healthy, putting on weight for a solid two or three months before she began a rapid decline. More rapid than before, even. It was the middle of April when the VP asked me to take Tessie to the vet for her, as she was busy that day. Tessie's legs were bandaged from where she had been given shots and had, had blood taken, etc, and she was also pretty weak. So I picked the poor thing up, put her on my back seat, and carefully drove to the Vet. I kept looking back at her in my rearview mirror, to see her sad chocolate eyes looking directly at me. I was so naïve and so in love with this dog that I had no idea I had been sent on her Death Errand. I checked her in, said a long goodbye with many encouraging words of health, and felt an incredible wave of sadness as I walked to my car. I sat behind the wheel smoking and crying for a solid half hour, and then drove back to work.
Tessie was put down that afternoon, and I felt so guilty for delivering her to the Vet. I was furious with my bosses - they knew how much I loved that dog, and sent me on the unpleasant errand regardless. The next several weeks, I didn't talk to anyone unless I had to. I kept to myself. One afternoon, a few weeks after Tessie's death, my bosses needed to travel to Concord, NH for some medical business, and asked that I stay a little later to answer the phones and watch over the house. This was fine, I had extra work to do anyway, so off they went and I was left by myself. They took Sadie, the other dog, with them, and all the doors were locked from the inside. Going over some inventory in the office, I heard a faint scratching on the hardwood floors directly underneath me - the sort of scratching dog toenails make on hardwood. The sounds got louder, and still so soon after her death, my immediate thought was "Oh, Tessie wants to come up!" before stopping and realizing my thought, then listening as the scratches gained weight behind them and scrambled up those three small steps to the landing. I heard a very soft whimper and the sounds of a dog lying down in a huff.
I never told my bosses what I heard, but when I told the shipping manager, she smiled and said, "Of course Tessie came to say she loves you - you were her Mom." Tessie was a little over two years old when she died, and I still think of her coming to say hello to me while I was hurting for her the most. Thank you for reading:)