Haily was always a gentle dog. She was an unusually large German shorthaired pointer and she was sometimes clumsy and broke things, but she never did any of that on purpose. She loved children and baby animals, raising four different puppies in our household. I can’t think of one time that she was vicious, or when she even barked at anyone.
There was one day, however, that Haily growled, and it was quite frightening in a dog her size. It all started one evening in January when my mother and I were watching a television program in the living room of our Ellensburg house. Haily slept soundly on the love seat beside Mom and was enjoying the warmth of the nearby fireplace. It was one of those perfect winter nights.
Everything changed when Haily suddenly raised her head and glanced over at the bookshelf near the bedrooms. I was surprised to hear her growl and see her show her teeth. Whatever had her attention, she was focused on that corner by the bookshelf as if an intruder had suddenly popped in. I looked but couldn’t see anything unusual.
Before I could figure out what had her attention, Haily suddenly leaped off the couch, barking and snarling, as she bolted across the hall into Mom’s bedroom. She spent the next several minutes standing in the doorway and barking viciously, as if she had someone cornered. Her head was lowered and her hackles were up as she continued to snarl and snap her teeth.
Cautiously, I got up to check it out. Mom stayed on the couch, afraid of what might have gotten into the house. I peered into the bedroom, expecting to see some sort of critter, but there was nothing there. Haily was barking at empty space.
After a few minutes of this, the dog lost interest in whatever got her attention and went back to the living room, where she settled down on the love seat next to Mom as if nothing had happened. She never repeated the strange behavior that night or any other time.
Being the curious sort that I am, I began an investigation trying to figure out the reason for Haily’s guard dog mode. I started by looking for strange lights or shadows that could’ve been projected onto the bookshelf. There were none to be seen, even at the time of night that the incident occurred. I could also find nothing in the house that could’ve made a strange noise to get her attention.
There were other things I couldn’t quite rule out. Did Haily have a nightmare? She had been asleep before she suddenly snapped to attention and growled. However, she appeared to be seeing something near the bookshelf, and unless she was hallucinating somehow, I doubt she was still seeing dream images.
Haily was epileptic, though she hadn’t had a seizure in a number of years at that point, and it would be several more before her condition returned. Could it have been an epileptic hallucination? Maybe. I have no way of saying for certain because we never thought to give her a vet check. Also, Haily’s epilepsy didn’t appear to include hallucinations, just minor bouts of lip smacking and swallowing.
We will never know exactly what Haily saw that night, nor why she saw it. But maybe it wasn’t something she saw. Perhaps it was something she heard. After all, whatever it was woke her from a sound sleep.
Science has proven that dogs’ sense of hearing is beyond the human range, especially on the high-frequency side. If she heard a strange high-frequency noise, it would cause a similar reaction. If it was a particularly unusual noise, it could have frightened her in her half-awake state and made her think there was an intruder. If there was a noise, though, I was never able to identify its source.
The only thing I can say for sure is that this event was never repeated. I never heard Haily snarl or growl again. She remained her usual gentle self for the rest of her life, never reliving whatever happened that strange night.
Was her experience paranormal? Maybe or maybe not. Whatever Haily saw (or heard) that night, she took that secret to her grave in 2017. Rest in peace, sweet dog. We miss you every day.