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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

One of his companions, Mr. Stead goes on to explain, who heard him tell the story at the time, corroborated the fact that it had made a great impression on those who had seen it. Nothing was ever ascertained as to any woman, child, or Newfoundland dog that had ever been in the district before. When they got to Ballock they enquired of the keeper of the bridge whether a woman, a child, and a dog had passed that way, but he had seen nothing. The apparition had disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared. Mr. Stead's article ends here. Of course, one can only surmise as to the nature of the phenomena. No member of the Psychical Research Society could do more--and in the absence of any authentic history of the spot where the manifestations occurred, such a surmise can be of little value. Since the phenomena were seen by three people at the same time, it is quite safe to assume they were objective, but it is impossible to lay down the law as to whether they were actual phantasms of the dead--of a woman, child, and Newfoundland dog who had all three met with some violent end--or phantasms of three living beings, who, happening to think of that locality at the same time, had projected their immaterial bodies there simultaneously. But whichever of these alternatives be true, the same thing holds good in either case, viz. that the Newfoundland dog had a spirit--and what applies to one dog should assuredly apply to the generality, if not, indeed, to all.

_Phantom Dog seen on Souter Fell_

Miss Harriet Martineau, in her _English Lakes_, refers to certain strange phenomena seen from time to time on Souter Fell.

In 1745, for example, a Mr. Wren and his servant saw, simultaneously, a man and dog pursuing some horses along a razor-like ridge of rocks, on which it was obviously impossible for any ordinary being to gain a bare foothold, let alone walk. They watched the figures until the latter suddenly vanished, when Mr. Wren and his servant, thinking, perhaps, the man, dog, and horses had really fallen over the cliff, went to look for them. They searched elsewhere, but despite their vigilance, nothing was to be found, and convinced at last that what they had seen was something superphysical, they came away mystified, and no doubt somewhat frightened.

There is no suggestion to make here other than the manifestations may have been the phantasms of a man, dog, and horses that at some former date had been killed, either accidentally or purposely, in or near that spot.

_The Jumping Ghost_

Mr. George Sinclair, in his work _Satan's Invisible World Discovered_, gives a detailed account of hauntings in a house in Mary King's Close, Edinburgh.

The house, at the time Mr. Sinclair writes, was occupied by Mr. Thomas Coltheart, a law agent. Seated one afternoon at home reading, Mrs. Coltheart was immeasurably startled at seeing, suspended in mid-air gazing at her, the head of an old man. She uttered some sort of exclamation, most probably a cry, and the apparition at once vanished. Some nights later, when in bed, both she and her husband saw the same head, which was presently joined by the head of a child, and a long, naked arm, which tried to catch hold of them.

On another occasion, a member of the Coltheart family was greatly alarmed by the sudden appearance of a large dog, which leaped on the chair by her side, and as suddenly disappeared.

Every effort was made to lay the ghosts. Ministers--and one knows how pious Scotch clergymen are--were called in, but their exhortations, instead of dispelling or even minimizing the phenomena, only increased them. It was a case of more prayers, more spooks; which state of affairs, however complimentary to the ministers' powers of address, was scarcely as comforting to the Colthearts, who, unable to bear the strange sights and noises any longer, evacuated the premises. As no other tenants could be found, the house was eventually pulled down, and a row of fine modern buildings now occupy the site. As the history of the place could never be traced with any degree of authenticity, one can do no more than speculate as to the cause of the disturbances, which, I am inclined to think, were due to the phantoms of people and animals that had once actually lived and died there.

_Dogs seen before a Death_

Mrs. Crowe, in her _Night Side of Nature_, mentions the case of a young lady named P----, who saw a big black dog twice suddenly appear and disappear by her side, immediately before the death of her mother.