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From the Valley of Shadows

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Ghost Dogs of Cocolalla

This month’s account is that of a young family in Cocolalla. As usual, their names have been changed to protect the anonymous.

It’s not only old buildings that have something... well... wrong with them. This story takes place in a house that’s only a couple of years old. Oftentimes it can be the land on which the house is built (much like Amityville Horror) that haunts them.

(Not to burst your bubble, by the way, but I’m convinced the Lutz family of Amityville Horror fame made up that entire story for money. No family living in the house, before or since, has reported anything unusual.)

The young mother of our Cocolalla family, Jill, went into her young son’s bedroom one night to tuck him in and found  four-year-old Sam with the sheet  pulled up to just below his eyes as he stared at the ceiling. Asked what he was looking at, the boy pointed up: “The doggie!” His mother saw nothing but a shadow, and reassured him that’s all it was.

The following night, when Sam refused even to go into his bedroom, Jill got her husband Chris to go in with them. Getting in bed now that his father was there, Sam suddenly looked up, pointing. “There’s the tail!”

In the following days, Jill and Chris noticed additional behavior changes in their son. He’d put his hands under his bed covers even on a warm night so the “Shadow” wouldn’t make them cold. When asked for more detail of this thing, the boy would make claw hands and growl. The closest description they could get out of Sam was that he was seeing some dog shape. Was this a demon, or the product of a four-year-old’s imagination?

Their first and most reasonable theory was the barking by their neighbor’s large dog was scaring their children.

Things settled down for a week or so and both parents decided whatever was going on had run its course, until one day both Sam and his three-year-old sister Gina came running into the house, scared and screaming, “Dog!” Rushing outside, Chris found an empty yard.

From then, things began to happen that led the adults to think there was more to this than a kid’s imagination. Jill would go into Gina’s room and find the girl huddled in the corner of her bed during nap time, awake and scared to death.

One night, when the family was asleep, a loud resounding crash came from Gina’s room. Going to investigate, Chris found a picture and frame on the floor, but his daughter asleep. It couldn’t have just fallen - it was halfway between the dresser it had been sitting on and his daughter’s bed. Besides, there was a shoe box and a clown doll still in place on the dresser that had been in front of the picture.

The barking dog theory went out the window.

Talking with their neighbor one night, the man asked Jill and Chris if when they were building their house, they had discovered any bones, especially those of a dog.

The neighbor went on to relate a story about the property’s previous owner, who had owned a large, beloved black dog.

One day the man had gotten into an argument with his then best friend. Apparently, the so-called friend lost the argument, went home, then returned with a gun, killing the dog. The neighbor was sure the dog’s owner had buried the animal here, on what was now their property.

For their peace of mind, and that of their children, the young couple went to their minister for advice about the situation. His suggestion was a prayer vigil with their congregation.

The next evening, the family gathered with several from their prayer group and asked in the name of Jesus to allow the young father to take dominion over his house.

Several nights of peace followed before one final incident. Chris was tucking his son into bed when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw something black race by. Turning around, the room seemed normal, but Sam lay there looking at the outer wall and said, “Dog, bye-bye.”

In a footnote, while not having been bothered further as of this writing, none of this explained the time when, getting out of the family car, a black, ghostly human hand seemed to reach out for Jill from the back seat. Could there be more than one thing going on? More than one phenomenon? Could it be something akin to the Shadow Creatures, as I related in April?

Next month, a story my father told us one spooky Christmas Eve about an experience he had as a young man in the Forest Service in the late 1930s. The most bizarre, spine-tingling account yet for a VALLEY OF SHADOWS Halloween. Don’t read it in the dark. You’ve been warned.

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Author info

Lawrence Fury Lawrence Fury is an inveterate letter-to-the-editor writer, and a conservative conscience for this area of North Idaho. He's also an expert on local ghost stories, and is compiling a group of them for future book publication. You can read more about him in a Love Notes feature for the River Journal

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