As the old saying goes, if you can’t trust a bunch of guys from a village located way, way out in the remote wilderness of Canada (the name of which you forget) who drink the world’s worst, damn near lethally bitter, coffee and like it and don’t seem to ever notice the cold based on the fact they wear T-Shirts in fifteen degree weather and they frequent bars back home that routinely serve whiskey in glasses that have human fingers and toes that fell off from frostbite in them, who can you trust?
So, when several of them tell you the story of the day literally every last dog in their community went missing and stayed missing, you tend to believe them.
According to them, we are not talking a big number of dogs, maybe twenty or so. They are also all the same breed. The breed is called newfoundlands. They are the preferred dog around those parts because they can take the cold and they are good at keeping bears away.
Take a look a one and you can see why. They are seriously big dogs, newfoundlands. An average-sized one weighs around one hundred thirty pounds. They are cold weather critters, too, with long hair and stocky bodies. There is a Saint Bernard look to them. I have never met one, but the guys told me they are a friendly, playful breed.
To keep the bears away folks let their dogs run around at night. Evening came and they let their dogs out. The next morning every very tail-wagging one of them was gone.
“It was like something out of the Twilight Zone,” Troy Gill told me. “You expect your dog to be waiting for you when you open the door, but she’s not there. At first you think it’s just your dog missing. Then you realize everyone’s dog is missing.”
And missing they stayed.
“We figured maybe they ran off into the woods or something,” Troy told me. “Some guys tried to track them, but it snowed that night and their tracks were covered up. We didn’t worry at first. We figured they’d come on home later that day, but they didn’t”
They didn’t come back the next day, either.
Speculation ran wild. The place was polluted with cougars and bears and wolves. Did the dogs get eaten? No way. Predators might have killed a lone dog, but twenty or so? No way.
Most folks stuck to the lost in the woods theory? People searched the woods several times. Nothing. Not a sign of dogs anywhere.
Some speculated there was a dog serial killer on the loose. A stranger would have been spotted, though. Maybe it wasn’t a stranger. Maybe someone everyone knew did it. But one person couldn’t round up that many newfoundlands.
The leading theory finally came down to some kind of crazy, dog-stealing cult. It would have taken a lot of people to cart off that many newfoundlands in that short a time. But how did they do it without being spotted? Why didn’t the dogs make a sound?
Questions led to questions which led to more questions. Nothing made sense.
Almost a week past with no dogs. The disappearances made the papers in some distant towns.
And just like that, the dogs were back. Every last one of them. Happy. Healthy. Hungry. All the dogs were back.
Again, there were no tracks because of a heavy snowfall.
A few weeks later it happened again. Every dog went missing. And just like before, snow covered the evidence of their departure. Troy would tell me, “It was almost like they planned it that way. Leave when it snows heavy. Come back when it snows heavy.”
The townsfolk searched again. It wasn’t quite the frantic search as before. It had to be they ran off into the woods. Just like before, they didn’t find a trace of them.
A few days later, the dogs were back.
Fast forward to the following Winter.
All the dogs disappear. On the second day, a freighter Captain radioed a nearby Coast Guard station and asked, “What are all the dogs doing out on the ice flows?”
The ice flows were six miles off the coast. The dogs had been swimming there and spending a few days chasing penguins and what not.
No one ever figured out why all of them went at once. No one ever figured out why they started doing it in the first place.
My guess is they somehow drank the coffee, gagged then broke into a six-mile swim.
Good to see you back. Great writing.