Day of the Dead

By: Paula Moldovan

It probably sounded unusual the first day of class when I was asked why I chose to take the horror based English class and I said “Well to tell you the truth, I don’t really like horror.” The reason I don’t like horror is because of the fear it creates deep inside me. When I let fear or horror or sinister ideas in, they terrify me and it’s often very difficult for me to separate myself from them therefore I prefer to either avoid or deny them. Which is one of the reasons why I never shared the story I am about to share with a single person.

In May 2011, my family’s dog, Spencer, a six year old English Cocker Spaniel, suddenly fell ill and by the middle of June his condition had deteriorated so severely that we had to euthanize the poor guy who was in so much pain. Let me rewind a little bit. Spencer’s condition started with his loss of appetite at the beginning of May when my mom went on a business trip. At first, my dad, sister, and I thought he was just said my mom had left since the two of them were very close. By the time my mom returned at the end of the week, Spencer still wasn’t eating. Concerned, we took him to the vet and after a couple of weeks and numerous vet visits, the vet diagnosed Spencer with acute liver failure and leukemia. His illness progressed so quickly that we had no choice but to euthanize him because by mid-June he could barely move, his internal organs were breaking down, he could not go to the bathroom, eat, or drink water. My parents had to give him fluids through an IV every few hours. One of the most difficult parts of watching Spencer struggle had been hearing how difficult it was for him to simply breathe. He would take these ragged, rattling breaths because his lungs were starting to fill with fluid.

The months following Spencer’s death were some of the most difficult months I had faced up until then. On November 1st of that year, also known as Day of the Dead, my dad lit a candle in remembrance of my grandma. He had done this every year since she died in 2003 so there was nothing unusual about that day until later that night. I was downstairs alone working on homework at the kitchen table (the candle was still lit) when I first heard the noise. It was the rattling and ragged sound of deep, struggling breaths, taken through failing lungs. I refused to believe what I was hearing. My house has creaky bones so I blamed the noise on the years. But when it didn’t stop for several minutes, I couldn’t deny the striking similarity between this noise and the sound of Spencer’s breathing before he died. Completely freaked out by the noise and the coincidence of November 1st, I blew out the candle, took one last look around the kitchen and at “Spencer’s spot” before rushing upstairs. I never shared this story with anybody because I was afraid to accept the fact that it actually happened and I knew this was not a story that I could share with just anybody. It had to be told to the right person.


10 thoughts on “Day of the Dead

  1. I actually do remember you saying that and agreeing fullheartedly. Taking a class on horror has to be one of the silliest things I could have done because I am so scared of everything. Have you heard similar sounds since that night? I know it has been discussed before, but with such a sudden turn of events, people tend to have unfinished business and perhaps your dog is doing the same thing. Dogs, as related to horror, are always right, so I would not doubt that it was your dog.

  2. I’m sorry for the loss of your dog, and I can’t imagine what you went through. I totally agree with Serena. In every story we’ve read and in real life dogs seem to be in tune with the supernatural so I’m sure the noise you heard was your dog. Do you think Spencer’s reappearance, as it were, was related to the candle or the Day of the Dead, or just coincidence?

  3. I am really sorry about your dog. I recently lost the dog I grew up with so I know how that feels. I’m curious – even though you were scared, if you were sure the sounds were your dog, were you at all happy or curious as to why he visited? Obviously he is not a scary ghost out for revenge, but he probably just misses his family! Ghosts are obviously terrifying but there are certain people I would like to be visited by. Do you think a ghost has to have some sort of unfinished business to interact with the living or can they just drop in and say “hi?”

  4. I’m also not a huge fan of horror, but I’ve always been a very curious person and would read stories or watch tv shows about things that later ended up terrifying me. There’s just something about horror and cryptozoology (the main thing I’m interested), that while scary, for some reason always pulls me and and makes me want to continue. Anyways, my cat passed away two summers ago and her breathing near the end was very similar to your dog’s. I think if I had heard the same thing, I would have known instantly it was her and would probably freak out. Luckily nothing like that has happened so far.

  5. I’m sorry about your dog. I don’t have any pets but a lot of my friends do and I can’t imagine how they would feel if they had to put their pets down. This story is very creepy, especially because you heard the noise on November 1st, the Day of the Dead. Just like you, I would’ve blamed the noises on my house because how could you be hearing the breathing of your dead dog? It seems impossible. Have you heard noises like that since? Maybe it was just in your head, like you remembering his breathing. Or maybe your dog’s soul still lives in your house. It all depends on what you believe in.

  6. I’m so sorry about your dog! Although I’ve never had a dog, I know how hard that must be. I think this is a really cool story but sad at the same time. I can see why you don’t like horror. Did you ever tell your family about this? I wonder if they ever had a similar experience? I think maybe your dog was coming back to comfort you. I’m not sure but at least it was a good spirit and not a bad one.

  7. I’m sorry about your grandmother, and about your dog. I had to euthanize my first dog and she had literally been around since I was a baby. But I remember once when I was at church around Halloween, that I was given a paper that said on Halloween, spirits of people/animals wonder the earth. I didn’t believe that it was true, but after hearing your story, it made me think about this. Did you ever end up telling your family or a friend before posting on the blog?

  8. This is a very compelling story that I connect with on many levels. I agree that I don’t like horror because of the deep seeded fear it creates. I’m also very sorry for your losses of both your grandma and your dog. When we put our beautiful Golden Retreiver named Wilson down, it was brutally hard. And everywhere I looked for the next couple of weeks, I heard him panting, or the heat of his breath on my feet, as he always put hit head on my feet while I was sitting down for dinner or at my desk doing work.

  9. I took a lot of Spanish classes in middle school and high school, and learned about the Day of the Dead every year. However, I had always heard that it was a peaceful and respectful event that was meant to bring people closure with regards to their dead loved ones. I’ve always thought the idea was sort of morbid and creepy, but beautiful as well. It shocks and saddens me that you had such a terrible experience with it, especially since it seems to be such a long and time-honored tradition for you.

  10. I’m really sorry for the loss of your dog and your grandma. The thought of hearing your dog’s breathing after he passed away sounds really creepy. Did you ever find out why he suddenly became so rapidly ill? Maybe there was something to it and that was why you could still hear him after he had died? Also, I don’t know anything about the Day of the Dead, but maybe he wanted you to light a candle in remembrance of him just as your dad had for your grandma?

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