Dream fodder: Ghost dog

I had this dream about a week ago, and it’s stuck with me. I think it would make a great, if not creepy, short story, but I don’t think I have the heart to write it. But I’ll tell you about the dream, because dreams can make great story fodder.

I think the only background you need to know going in is that my parents had a dog named Cooper, who died just about a year ago.

It was dark out. That time when the sun has set and perhaps there should be streetlights on, but there weren’t yet. I headed up to my parents’ house for some reason, not realizing that they weren’t home. I unlocked the door to their sunroom, and then walked into their living room. Cooper, my parents’ little bichon, sat on the ottoman in front of the couch. He barked in excitement. I talked to him and asked him (rhetorically, of course) where my parents were. There were no lights on inside, and I couldn’t see super clearly. I was going to go home, but Cooper was so happy to see me. So I sat down in my dad’s recliner and pulled him onto my lap. I sat there and talked with him, gave him scratches and rubs, and it felt like we were having a good moment.
Then I saw my dad’s headlights shine through the window. I set Cooper back on the ottoman and went out to say hi. My dad was opening the tailgate of his truck as I walked out. My mom stood next to him, crying. As I asked what was wrong, they pulled Cooper’s lifeless body from the back of the truck. He was already stiff, for whatever reason. I recoiled in shock.
How did that happen? When did this happen? 
My parents didn’t answer, and all I could do was stare.
It’s not possible! I blurted out. We were just hanging out together in the living room.
I gestured towards the house and peeked into the living room, which was empty.
In the end, I decided that Cooper must have come to me to say goodbye.

Saying Goodbye

In the summer of 2002, my sister wanted a dog. We met a sweet Labrador puppy at the animal shelter, and she agreed to come live with us.

My sister asked me to give her a name that wasn’t a canine standard, so I called her Neese.

Neese had a powerful tail. There was a short table by the basement couch where we played video games. If she came downstairs to see us, we had to pick up our drinks because she was so happy that her tail wagged like a destructive force of nature, knocking everything to the floor. Sometimes she joined us on the couch, and sometimes she just said hello and went back upstairs.

When my sister got married and moved out, Neese stayed with our parents for a few years, then rejoined my sister when they bought their house. She hated walking on the linoleum, but the first time I visited, she ignored it and came right up to me when I walked in, tail thumping against the wall.

Even toward the end, when her arthritis made her avoid getting up to say hello, her tail would beat against the floor when I knelt down to say hello.

Last night, Neese went to sleep for the last time.

Goodbye, pup. You are missed.