I remember the day I saw it. I was watching my parent’s dog Annie. She was a medium-sized golden retriever who was, like most golden retrievers, exuberant and energetic beyond all measure. Unlike most golden retrievers, however, Annie was afraid of just about everything. Everything from inflatable holiday decorations to an errant plastic bag floating into the yard were sufficient to send Annie into full fire alarm barking spree, much to my parents’ annoyance. 

Thus, I couldn’t really blame my parents for wanting a vacation. After spending half a day with the dog, I wanted one as well. This wasn’t to say Annie was all that bad. She was friendly, and when calm, was the perfect snuggle partner on movie nights. She would be curled up on the couch next to me, her warm thick fur pushed against my side as I binged a movie marathon. 

Around the middle of my parents’ vacation, I was closing up for the night. My parents lived in the suburbs, in a nice two-story house that was admittedly, a bit too big for them now that they were empty-nesters. A sliding glass door leads out to a fairly big deck overlooking a normal-sized yard, overlooking a back row of several houses of similar design.

I let Annie out the sliding door and then fed my parents’ Maine Coon Max before making a few more evening checks on the property. When I came down the stairs, I was not surprised to hear Anne barking somewhere in the backyard. I sighed with annoyance as I looked at the clock. It was 10:00 P.M. It wasn’t terribly late on a weekend, but this was the suburbs and I didn’t want Annie bothering the neighbors anymore than she already was. 

I opened the screen doors and yelled for Annie to come in. I couldn’t see her in the darkness, but I could certainly hear her constant barking. I moved back into the house, opened a cupboard door and retrieved several dog treats. I then once again opened the screen door and yelled for Annie to come in, offering Annie some treats to further incentivize her to stop barking and come inside.  

I cursed loudly and then stepped onto the deck as I shut the sliding door behind me. I was wearing gym shorts and a sleeveless shirt in early spring. The cold air bit at my exposed skin. I turned on the deck lights. I immediately spotted Annie in the far south corner of the lot, barking at something in the distance.

“Is Bentley out?” I asked, as if I expected Annie to respond. Bently was another golden retriever Annie often barked at in the house directly behind my parents, engaging in the golden retriever equivalent of a game of telephone. But as I made it down the wooden stairs, I saw no signs of Bently.

I approached Annie, careful not to step in any dog turds hidden by the darkness. I grabbed my phone, using the flashlight to guide my steps to Annie’s position. As I came upon her, Annie furiously barked. I reached for her, and the dog nearly snapped at me. I immediately noticed something very strange about the dog. Her fur stood up on her neck as she furiously barked at an unseen object down the ditch which separated all the lots. 

Something had definitely spooked Annie. I sighed, wondering what it was this time. An ice cream truck. An errant balloon from a birthday party. The neighbor's cat. 

As I looked down the way, I saw two gleaming yellow eyes in the distance. Then, a cacophony of dog howls and barks raised in my eardrums. Whatever was down here, the whole neighborhood was barking at it. 

“Annie,” I said gently, revealing the dog treat. “Come on.”

Annie whimpered a bit at whatever was down the way. I strained my eyes to see what exactly it was. I saw two orange-yellow eyes shined in the distance, but the distance felt off. It looked like the eyes were floating in the darkness. Was it another dog, standing on a hill or something? Perhaps it was a coyote. I had read Facebook reports of coyotes wandering into the suburbs with renewed confidence.Whatever it was, I needed to get Annie into the house. Fortunately, the dog agreed with me because when I turned to her, I saw the golden retriever was bolting toward the house, leaving me in the dust.

Man’s best friend my ass.

I hurried through the dark yard and ran up the stairs to see Annie urgently pawing at the backdoor. I let her in, stepping into the house as I shut the door and latched in. I then slipped Annie to dog treats before turning off all the lights.

I wanted to see just what this thing was, and I didn’t want the indoor lights impairing my vision of the darkness inside. As if on cue, a large tan creature crawled through the ditch. It looked like it could be a coyote, but if it was, it was the biggest one I’d ever seen.

Something felt off though. Most coyotes I had seen were small - most were almost the same size as Annie if not a little smaller. This one was different. Its body was built far bigger, as if I was witnessing a wolf on steroids, with lean muscles ripping through every portion of his body. 

And then, it stood on two legs instead of four. Annie began whimpering beside me. I couldn’t blame her. I felt like whimpering too at the sight of the creature walking very close to my parents’ backyard. 

What sent an even bigger chill down my spine was the way it moved. Its large shoulders alternated back and forth as if it was almost strutting down the yard. It look like a huge dog, but it walked like a man. I starred on in dreaded fascination.Then it turned towards the house as if it knew I was watching, and it grinned at me. It’s smile was a half-circle of jagged teeth the size of steak knives, all glowing in the yellow light of its gleaming eyes. 

It then turned and walked back down the ditch into the night.

Suffice to say neither Annie nor I got a wink of sleep that night. We just slept curled up with one another in my parents’ bed upstairs, hoping we didn’t hear anything in the night. 

We didn’t. The rest of the nights were uneventful.

I debated telling my parents when they got home, but I didn’t. I asked them if they had any troubles with coyotes instead. They told me they heard them howling some nights but never saw one up close. They were lucking on that last count. I never told them about what I saw that night, but after that, I never complained about Annie barking again.