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Animal Ghosts or Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter by Elliott O'Donnell


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Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter

_Dogs in Haunted Houses_

When I investigate a haunted house, I generally take a dog with me, because experience has taught me that a dog seldom fails to give notice, in some way or another--either by whining, or growling, or crouching shivering at one's feet, or springing on one's lap and trying to bury its head in one's coat--of the proximity of a ghost. I had a dog with me, when ghost-hunting, not so very long ago, in a well-known haunted house in Gloucestershire. The dog--my only companion--and I sat on the staircase leading from the hall to the first floor. Just about two o'clock the dog gave a loud growl. I put my hand out and found it was shivering from head to foot. Almost directly afterwards I heard the loud clatter of fire-irons from somewhere away in the basement, a door banged, and then something, or someone, began to ascend the stairs. Up, up, up came the footsteps, until I could see--first of all a bluish light, then the top of a head, then a face, white and luminous, staring up at me. A few more steps, and the whole thing was disclosed to view. It was the figure of a girl of about sixteen, with a shock head of red hair, on which was stuck, all awry, a dirty little, old-fashioned servant's cap. She was clad in a cotton dress, soiled and bedraggled, and had on her feet a pair of elastic-sided boots, that looked as if they would fall to pieces each step she took. But it was her face that riveted my attention most. It was startlingly white and full of an expression of the most hopeless misery. The eyes, wide open and glassy, were turned direct on mine. I was too appalled either to stir or utter a sound. The phantasm came right up to where I stood, paused for a second, and then slowly went on; up, up, up, until a sudden bend in the staircase hid it from view. For some seconds there was a continuation of the footsteps, then there came a loud splash from somewhere outside and below--and then silence--sepulchral and omnipotent.

I did not wait to see if anything further would happen. I fled, and Dick, my dog friend, who was apparently even more frightened than I, fled with me. We arrived home--panic-stricken.

Over and over again, on similar occasions, I have had a dog with me, and the same thing has occurred--the dog has made some noise indicative of great fear, remaining in a state of stupor during the actual presence of the apparition.

_Psychic Propensities of Dogs compared with those of Cats_

Though dogs are, perhaps, rather more alarmed at the Unknown than cats, I do not think they have a keener sense of its proximity. Still, for the very reason that they show greater--more unmistakable--indications of fear, they make surer psychic barometers. The psychic faculty of scent in dogs would seem to be more limited than that in cats; for, whereas cats can not only detect the advent and presence of pleasant and unpleasant phantoms by their smells, few dogs can do more than detect the approach of death. Dogs make friends nearly, if not quite, as readily with cruel and brutal people as with kind ones, simply because they cannot, so easily as cats, distinguish by their scent the unpleasant types of spirits cruel and brutal people attract; in all probability, they are not even aware of the presence of such spirits.

It would seem, on the face of it, that since dogs are, on the whole, of a gentler disposition than cats, that is to say, not quite so cruel and savage, the phantasms of dogs would be less likely to be earth-bound than those of cats; but, then, one must take into consideration the other qualities of the two animals, and when these are put in the balance, one may find little to choose--morally--between the cat and the dog. Anyhow, after making allowance for the fact that many more cats die unnatural deaths than dogs, there would seem to be small numerical difference in their hauntings--cases of dog ghosts appearing to be just as common as cases of cat ghosts.

Apropos of phantom dogs, my friend Dr. G. West writes to me thus:--

"Of the older English Universities many stories are told of bizarre happenings,--of duels, raggings, suicides and such-like--in olden times; but of K., venerable, illustrious K. of Ireland, few and far between are the accounts of similar occurrences. This is one, however, and it deals with the phantom of a dog:--