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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

The theory was that it was the ghost of some dog that had been cruelly done to death--possibly by starvation--in the cupboard.

_How the Ghost of a Dog saved Life_

When I was a boy, an elderly friend of mine, Miss Lefanu, narrated to me an anecdote which impressed me much. It was to this effect.

Miss Lefanu was walking one day along a very lonely country lane, when she suddenly observed an enormous Newfoundland dog following in her wake a few yards behind. Being very fond of dogs, she called out to it in a caressing voice and endeavoured to stroke it. To her disappointment, however, it dodged aside, and repeated the manoeuvre every time she tried to touch it. At length, losing patience, she desisted, and resumed her walk, the dog still following her. In this fashion they went on, until they came to a particularly dark part of the road, where the branches of the trees almost met overhead, and there was a pool of stagnant, slimy water, suggestive of great depth. On the one side the hedge was high, but on the other there was a slight gap leading into a thick spinney. Miss Lefanu never visited the spot alone after dusk, and had been warned against it even in the daytime. As she drew near to it, everything that she had ever heard about it flashed across her mind, and she was more than once on the verge of turning back, when the sight of the big, friendly-looking dog plodding behind, reassuring her, she pressed on. Just as she came to the gap, there was a loud snapping of twigs, and, to her horror, two tramps, with singularly sinister faces, sprang out, and were about to strike her with their bludgeons, when the dog, uttering a low, ominous growl, dashed at them. In an instant the expression of murderous joy in their eyes died out, one of abject terror took its place, and, dropping their weapons, they fled, as if the very salvation of their souls depended on it. As may be imagined, Miss Lefanu lost no time in getting home, and the first thing she did on arriving there was to go into the kitchen and order the cook to prepare, at once, a thoroughly good meal for her gallant rescuer--the Newfoundland dog, which she had shut up securely in the back yard, with the laughing remark, "There--you can't escape me now." Judge of her astonishment, however, when, on her return, the dog had gone. As the walls of the back yard were twelve feet high, and the doors had been shut all the while--no one having passed through them--it was impossible for the animal to have escaped, and the only interpretation that could possibly be put on the matter was that the dog was superphysical--a conclusion that was subsequently confirmed by the experiences of various other people. As the result of exhaustive enquiries Miss Lefanu eventually learned that many years before, on the very spot where the tramps had leaped out on her, a pedlar and his Newfoundland dog had been discovered murdered.

This story being true, then, there is one more link in the chain of evidence to show that dogs, as well as men, have spirits, and spirits that can, on occasion, at least, perform deeds of practical service.

_A Precentor's Story_

The late Mr. W.T. Stead, in his volume of _Real Ghost Stories_, narrates the following, which by reason of its being witnessed by three people simultaneously, may be regarded as highly evidential.

In reply to Mr. Stead's request to hear the anecdote the precentor says (I quote him _ad verbum_):

"I was walking, about nine years ago, one night in August, about ten o'clock, and about half a mile from the house where we are now sitting. I was going along the public road between the hamlets of Mill of Haldane and Ballock. I had with me two young women, and we were leisurely walking along, when suddenly we were startled by seeing a woman, a child about seven years old, and a Newfoundland dog jump over the stone wall which was on one side of the road, and walk on rapidly in front of us. I was not in the least frightened, but my two companions were very much startled. What bothered me was that the woman, the child, and the dog, instead of coming over the wall naturally one after the other, as would have been necessary for them to do, had come over with a bound, simultaneously leaping the wall, lighting on the road, and then hurrying on without a word. Leaving my two companions, who were too frightened to move, I walked rapidly after the trio. They walked on so quickly that it was with difficulty that I got up to them. I spoke to the woman, she never answered. I walked beside her for some little distance, and then suddenly the woman, the child, and the Newfoundland dog disappeared. I did not see them go anywhere, they simply were no longer there. I examined the road minutely, at the spot where they had disappeared, to see if it was possible for them to have gone through a hole in the wall on either side; but it was quite impossible for a woman and a child to get over a high dyke on either side. They had disappeared, and I only regret that I did not try to pass my stick right through their bodies, to see whether or not they had any resistance. Finding they had gone, I returned to my lady friends, who were quite unnerved, and who, with difficulty, were induced to go on to the end of their journey."