The following incident was witnessed by four people, including a policewoman, and it took place in Liverpool in 1988.
In November 1987, a 52-year-old woman named Irene had a minor stroke which left her partially paralysed down her left side, and she had difficulty walking. Her 14-year-old daughter, Carla, looked after her mum outside school hours, but Irene refused to have a helper in her home because she was too proud, and so she would hobble about the house with a walking stick.
In the summer of 1988, Carla had a chance to go on holiday to France with her school, but was worried that her mother would be unable to cope without her help. Irene insisted that her daughter should go on the holiday trip, and said the effects of the stroke were wearing off and that she was improving each day. That night, Carla burst into tears, and hugged her mum and said, "I'll stay with you mum; it wouldn't feel right having a good time in France while you're suffering here."
"Don't be silly, Carla." said Irene, and she hugged her daughter back and said, "You're going to France. You deserve a break after looking after me all the time. Is that a deal?"
Carla sniffled and nodded. By the following week she was holidaying in the south of France with her schoolfriends.
Irene felt very uneasy about being in the house on her own without her daughter, and looked forward to Carla's phonecall from France to tell her she was okay.
One morning at 3 a.m., Irene awoke to hear a rattling noise coming from downstairs. She initially thought it was Carla returning from holiday, but when Irene got out of bed and limped to the window, she froze with fear. Two tall men with black ski hats on were attempting to break in. One was standing at the gate in the front of the house, keeping watch, while his colleague was forcing the door open with a small crow bar.
Irene's heart began to pound with terror; she had to phone the police, but as she didn't have a phone in her bedroom, she would have to get to the phone downstairs in the hall before the thugs broke in. As she opened her bedroom door, she heard a splintering, cracking sound. She then heard the front door fly open and a stranger's deep voice saying "Hurry up!"
Irene almost fainted with fear as the burglars came into the house. She shouted out to an imaginary husband, "John! There's someone downstairs!" But the burglars laughed and took no notice. They had been keeping watch on the house and knew Irene was practically a house-bound invalid with no husband. The sound of heavy-footsteps pounded on the stairs, and one of the tall burglars said, "You stupid cow! Come here!"
Irene staggered back into her bedroom and closed the door behind her and leaned against it. She said, "Please God, don't let him in!" And she thought of Carla on holiday, and how it would be spoiled if she was raped or murdered by the burglars.
Suddenly, there was a loud growling noise, and then Irene heard the burglar cry out and fall down the stairs. Then there were more growling noises and the sound of a dog barking. A blue flash of light lit up the bedroom. It was the lights of a police patrol car arriving at the scene of the burglary. A police van also arrived with a screech from the other direction. Irene was baffled, and went to the window. She saw the two burglars run straight into the arms of the six policemen outside. Another squad car arrived, and a policeman got out and went into Irene's house. He went up to her bedroom and comforted her and told her to calm down. He said a neighbour had phoned them after seeing the burglars trying to break into her home. The policeman then said, "I think your dog's done a runner love."
"Eh?" Irene said, puzzled.
"Your dog. There's no sign of it. Don't worry, It'll come back." the policeman replied.
"I haven't got a dog, officer." said Irene, and she recalled the strange growling noise she had heard while dreading the arrival of the burglars.
"One of the rogues down there has got a big bite on his backside. He said your Alsatian went for him." the policeman explained.
"But I swear, officer, I haven't got a dog" said Irene, "The last Alsatian I had died years ago."
"It's okay," the policeman said, "we won't prosecute you or anything. I'm made up that fellah got bitten. We've been after him for months."
Irene still insisted she never had a dog, and the policeman called in a policewoman to make a cuppa for the woman, as she was still trembling.
About half an hour later when the police had taken the criminals to the station, the policewoman was having a chat over a cup of tea with Irene, when suddenly, they both heard a panting noise, and the patter of an animal's claws on the tiles of the kitchen. The policewoman went to investigate, but the kitchen was empty and in darkness. The WPC shook her head and looked at Irene, who had a bemused expression on her face.
"Wasn't that weird?" asked the policewoman. She later left after making sure Irene was okay. The policewoman said that she would get someone from the social services to pop in during the next day to see if she needed any help. She also said that she'd send her boyfriend around to fix the broken front door. The WPC then left. The time was now ten-past four in the morning, and Irene was feeling worn-out. She put two bolts on the broken door and retired to her bedroom.
At 5.40 a.m., something awoke Irene. Something wet and cold prodded her hand, which was hanging over the bed. Irene woke, and thought she was dreaming. The wet thing was the nose of a big Alsatian dog which was looking at Irene with a pair of brown sorroful eyes. Irene was absolutely shocked at the sight. It was her old dog, Bob, who had died 14 years ago. Irene reached out to stroke her faithful old friend, and at that moment, the dog vanished. As the pale light of dawn came into the room, Irene felt a tremendous sense of sorrow mingled with disbelief. She now realised that the dog who had attacked the burglars had been Bob, her faithful companion who had died from cancer fourteen years ago. Until that eventful morning, Irene had not believed in ghosts, but now she almost cried as she realised that her dog had somehow returned from the hereafter to protect her.
There is a strange epilogue to this story. When Carla returned from France, she had some film left in her camera from the holiday trip, and she took a picture of her mum standing in the garden with her walking stick. When the pictures came back from Boots, Carla looked at the developed pictures, and said, "Hey mum. Look at this. There's a dog on this photo. Look - next to you in the garden. I didn't see a dog when I took it."
Irene sighed when she inspected the picture. In the photograph, there was an out-of-focus image of a big Alsatian sitting behind Irene in the background. The dog was looking at Irene with its head tilted. "That's Bob." Irene whispered, with a lump in her throat. She didn't want to scare Carla, so she didn't mention the apparition of her faithful friend.
"Whose dog is it mum?" asked Carla.
"I don't know." said her mother, and a tear rolled down her cheek.
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