On March 2, 2004 I adopted a nearly 3 year old male Miniature Schnauzer (dog) named Mugsy. He was to be a replacement for my recently passed Schnauzer, also known as Mugsy. The matching names seemed to be coincidence. That they both walked with an occasional catch in their right hip seemed to be something more. Mugsy of old was the love of my life and his loss was heart rending. The new Mugsy was an unknown. I soon changed his name to Mr. Riggs, or Riggy. It was just too hard for me to speak the name "Mugsy."
Mr. Riggs was the feistiest of the 5 Scnauzers that are, or have been, in my life. He was hard-headed and a scrapper who did not do well with correction for misbehavior. Not that I was hard on him; he was just very independent and rather willful. I loved him but he was not the proverbial pick of the litter. That said, he was extremely loyal to me and very devoted. We were constant companions and as thick as chilled peanut butter. He even slept on my bed.
With the passage of time, he aged and changed from being muscular and fit to weak and rather frail. His vision grew worse and he could no longer walk my farm fields with me or jump into my bed. He developed a heart murmur and complications followed. Several medical conditions would have ultimately led to his death, and to avoid needless suffering he was put to sleep on January 17, 2017. He had lived a good and long life, and was missed by the family he left behind.
For a month after his death we sorrowed. During the second month following his passing we keenly felt the loss and it was still difficult to speak of him. By the third month we were becoming adjusted to his departure. After the third month our adjustment had largely been completed, though the loss will always be felt and the hole in my heart never fully healed.
Then it began. It would come at night. Always at night. I wonder still, did it awaken me? Or did I awaken to hear it?
There were footsteps in the hallway, and, perhaps, the kitchen and dining room. All those areas have laminate flooring and a dog's claws make an unmistakable clicking sound as they walk. Footsteps are like fingerprints, individual and unmistakable. Audible and unmistakable.
They began around the month of May, 2017. I think it happened 3 times between May and August. I heard a dog's nails clicking on the floor as it walked. I was awake and I heard it. Each time I attributed the sound to my two other Schnauzers, even though one of those dogs was in my bed, the other blind. Perhaps the blind dog, who often sleeps with paws hanging out of his bed, had twitched his feet while he dreamt of better days.
The month of August proved me wrong.
In August, 2017 I went on a vacation cruise to Alaska. My dogs were kenneled while I traveled. Returning home from the trip late at night, I could not pick up my dogs until the following day. To be clear, there were no dogs in my home the first night I returned home from my vacation.
Though tired, I awoke during the night to hear the now familiar footsteps. It was different this time. Those clicking nails were twice as loud. And they were more urgent and persistent. As I write this I realize it was as though he was saying "I'm here. Don't you see me? Get up, get up."
At that point I had a decision to make. Do I stay in bed or go and see what is going on? Without too much shame I can honestly say I was fearful of what I might find.
Long ago I learned to be careful about what I see and experience, because those things become memories that live with you the rest of your life. Now, at age 70, I have more than enough haunting memories that too often revisit me. Not wanting more of these I opted to stay in my bed.
I prayed earnestly for my faithful friend, that he go to the light or move on to a good place where he would be loved and cared for. I fell asleep as I prayed earnestly for a merciful and comforting conclusion to what was happening.
The following day I felt at peace, as though my prayers had been heard and my request granted. There seemed to be a calm in the house and my mind was at ease.
Things changed on Halloween night, the 31st of October, 2017. Friends had arrived that afternoon and would stay with us for 2 days. Their 2 Schmauzers traveled with them, and our 2 were located with me, making a very obvious 4 in total. At dusk, very near dark, while we all were seated in the living room, I heard the unmistakable sound of a dog drinking from the water bowl located in the kitchen. That bowl was 12 to 15 feet (3 to 4 meters) to the left of the living room chair I sat in. It was a loud and earnest lapping. Instantly the 2 young and vigorous visiting Schanuzers, also in the living room, barked furiously and dashed into the kitchen. At that same time my old dogs began to bark and have their say. The sound of drinking had been clear and could not be denied. It stopped as soon as the other dogs began to bark. With all 4 dogs accounted for in the living room, there was no living creature at the water bowl.
My wife has heard none of this, though she was not at home Halloween night. I can say the footsteps and drinking sounded to me like Mr. Riggs, not another dog. When dogs are with you for more than a decade, day and night, their individual sounds are distinct.
The wild card in this is that I have some psychic ability that was passed to me by my mother. I don't know if that ability comes into play regarding Mr. Riggs, or if this is purely a ghost story.
Ghost story. I'm not at ease with the term. To me, story implies fiction. Every word presented here is truthful and I am a bit troubled by what has happened. I hope Mr. Riggs moves on to some pleasant place and finds peace. I wouldn't say we are being haunted. I do suspect that he is hanging around out of loyalty and our deep bond.