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Betty's Ghost


When my wife and I were first married, we lived in a small house in Fairfax, Virginia with our 2-month-old Labrador puppy, Ben. The house was a modest 1950's era, Cape Cod with a finished attic that we used as an office and spare bedroom. One of the things that attracted us to the house was the large, fenced in yard and the kennel out back.

We'd been in the house for about a week when unusual things began to occur; things that couldn't be attributed to imagination. There were a number of things and it has been a while, but I'll try to relate the two most prominent in my memory.

The hall to the bedrooms was in the back of the living room. My wife and I would be sitting on the couch with Ben asleep on the floor. Suddenly he'd raise his head and stare at the arch leading into the back hallway. His hackles would go up and he would growl quietly, deep in his throat. Initially we thought this was cute. Ben, our tough little watch puppy protecting us from dust bunnies! But then we noticed that after a moment, he'd turn his head and look up as if watching someone walk from the hallway to the door of the attic near the front door. When the 'person' got to the attic door he'd get up and scamper over to the door and sniff around the base as though wondering where the 'person' went. Apparently satisfied that the person was gone, he'd go back to his spot on the rug and fall back asleep. This happened many times, in various ways for some time. Sometimes it was to the attic, other times it was from the attic.

Then, one evening I was getting ready for bed. My wife was already in bed reading. Ben was in the bathroom with me. He wasn't yet house broken so we always kept him close and I needed to put him outside one last time before going to bed myself. So Ben stayed in the bathroom with me while I brushed my teeth. As I finished, Ben went trotting out of the bathroom toward the kitchen. I dried my face and whistled to him. It was just a simple two note whistle that usually brought him back. As soon as I did, I heard, quite clearly and a little more loudly, the same whistle repeated. I was annoyed. I thought that it had been my wife. I called to her and asked her not to call the dog unless she was planning on getting out of bed to clean up the mess. Then I heard the back door slam. I walked into the bedroom to make sure my wife was still there, that she hadn't gone to the kitchen or something while I'd been washing up. She was in bed and she was already sound asleep. I walked back to the kitchen and couldn't find Ben anywhere. Finally, I looked out the back door and found Ben sitting on the back steps with the door closed and double locked. Two other times we'd look for Ben only to find him in the back yard with the door locked. Neither my wife nor I had put him out.

Something was up. Ben was interacting with something now on a regular basis, I know I heard that whistle and maybe it was just our imagination, but we were 'feeling' a 'not good' presence in the house. We talked, almost joked, that the house was haunted, but neither of us...well, okay, we definitely thought the house was haunted. Too much was going on to ignore. And if it was, it seemed obvious to us that this ghost was not particularly friendly. We even went so far as to discuss moving. The ghost obviously didn't want the dog in the house either as almost all of its actions seemed focused on the dog.

Then one day we got a call from our landlord. He wanted to know if he could come over and talk to us. We had never met him, but assumed that this was just a 'please don't destroy my property' discussion and set a date to meet him. When he arrived, he brought his wife, a woman who initially seemed very cool and reserved, but melted when she saw Ben. As we talked, she sat there in her mink coat with Ben happily curled up in her lap. As it turned out, our landlord was a retired veterinarian. The woman who had lived in the house had been a client of his. Her name was Betty and she had raised white German Shepherds. This explained the fence and the kennel in the back yard. He went on to explain that he'd gotten the house when Betty had developed cancer. It was terminal. The treatment was expensive. In return for his paying her mortgage, she would leave the house to him in her will. That had been a number of years ago. Recently, the doctor said, he'd gotten a phone call from a man who said that Betty had been his mother. This surprised the doctor because he'd known Betty well and she'd never mentioned a family or children. The man explained that Betty had been born and raised in Oklahoma in the 1930's and had become pregnant out of wedlock. She'd given this man and his twin sister up for adoption and left town and the stigma behind. When she died, Betty left her body to the medical college at George Washington University where her ashes remained and the adoption records were opened to the public. Betty's son requested that he and his sister be allowed to see the house their mother had lived in and to "spread her ashes around the house". Now, I wasn't sure what that meant. I didn't want to be vacuuming up Betty ashes from the corners, but the doctor assured us that the ashes would be placed somewhere in the yard. The doctor wanted to know if we minded. A date was set and we left the house one Saturday to give Betty's children the privacy they needed.

When we returned home that evening, Ben was shut up in the kennel in the back yard. It was interesting to be reminded that this behavior appeared genetic! Even Betty's son wanted to lock the dog up! And, a small tree had been planted in the yard. We let Ben out and went inside to fix dinner. The feeling in the house was incredibly different. The difference was physically noticeable. The feeling of a presence was gone and Ben never again followed a ghost to the attic. He did, however, chew that little tree down to a nub the very next day.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, LarryWilliams, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

jessicajoy (2 posts)
9 years ago (2015-01-18)
I enjoyed reading your story. I'm glad she was able to find peace.
LarryWilliams (3 stories) (3 posts)
10 years ago (2014-06-16)
Valkricry, that's an interesting perspective. I never thought of it like that, like a favor. It always seemed more a 'chastisement', particularly given how loudly the door slammed.:o)
LarryWilliams (3 stories) (3 posts)
10 years ago (2014-06-16)
Thank you for the welcome. And, no, Ben was never hurt. From what the landlord told us, Betty's dogs were never allowed in the house, which was why there was a fairly large kennel in the back yard. But this...entity?...was definitely angry. There was always 'anger' associated with 'her' and everything she did and everything we felt. I feel bad for her, but am, like you, happy she found peace.
valkricry (49 stories) (3275 posts) mod
10 years ago (2014-05-15)
Hi, Larry, welcome to YGS. If you think about it, from what you told us, Ben was never hurt just put outside in a relatively safe environment. Not uncommon for folks to put their dogs outside for the night, so perhaps Betty thought she was doing you a favor.
lady-glow (16 stories) (3158 posts)
10 years ago (2014-05-12)
LW: welcome to YGS.
This is a very interesting story, I wonder if Betty didn't like Ben for being a Labrador and not a German Sheppard or if, when alive, she didn't allow her dogs inside the house.
I'm glad she found peace after her ashes were buried in the yard.
Thanks for sharing.

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