ANIMAL SPIRITS Companion Animal Communications After Death By Dr. Michael W. Fox
The after-death physical manifestations of dogs and cats to their human companions point to other realities beyond this mortal plane. Such manifestations, documented in my two new books DOG BODY, DOG MIND, and CAT BODY, CAT MIND, (The Lyons Press), are sometimes visual, either as an aura of light or even a clear image of the animal, or are often purely auditory or tactile, as when the deceased animal’s footsteps are heard, a cold nose is felt on one’s leg, or the deceased cat is felt jumping onto the bed.
These phenomena suggest that there is more to the states of life and death than we fully comprehend. There is some form of being, not non-being, after physical death, possibly in a transitional form or state for some time after separation of the physical body from the supra-or metaphysical, that some call spirit or soul. This phenomenology of life after life is significant to me because I believe that it is an antidote to the prevailing materialism and ultimate nihilism of these difficult times. The sad state of the natural world that mirrors the human condition that is responsible for so much violence, destruction, and animal suffering, are in large part attributable to a nihilistic attitude that has no regard for the sacred; for the sanctity of life. Materialism and nihilism essentially deny the spirit, the existence of realities other than the purely physical. ‘You live, then you die, and that’s it. There is simply being and nothingness, so make the most of it, and take all you can, because you can’t take it with you,’ are typical nihilistic statements. But there is no evidence of non-being in nature. How could there be? The existence of non-existence cannot be proven, nor can non-being. But a being can be present or absent. Absence from the living present and presence of others does not mean that the absent one no longer exists in some other place in the world, or in some other dimension. He or she may be absent from, and ‘dead’ to the present, but as these deceased dogs and cats who have manifested in the presence of their witnessing human companions from their former existences, death does not mean non-being or nothingness: Separation, yes; and a sense of loss.
That uncounted numbers of deceased dogs and cats, as I have documented in the above two books, were able to manifest physically and communicated their continuing existence to their grieving human companions, is surely the affirmation of love’s blessing that a living universe of being and becoming, that some call God, Brahman, Allah, Great Spirit, or their Higher Power, can bestow upon all of open heart and mind. The gifts of fellow creatures great and small are indeed subtle and profound, enriching our lives from life to life, and sharing with us part of the great mystery, the mysterium tremendum, that is beyond our worldly realm of comprehension.
Below are several accounts sent to me by readers of my syndicated newspaper column Animal Doctor from around the U.S. of their beloved animals coming back and communicating their presence through one or more of these peoples’ senses after their animal companions have died. They can be manifested as a light, or a familiar sound, a touch, or ephemeral physical form.
I think these accounts, that together make a kind of testimony of truth, attest to the veracity and wisdom of all deep faith traditions and societies that are founded on the ethics and spirituality of compassion in recognition of the universal and universalizing quality we call love or devotion. Some human-attached animals seem to be able to will themselves to be with their beloved human companions after they have died—or perhaps more correctly, left their physical bodies.
An overarching aspect of all the letters that I have received on this subject of animals’ spirits is this unifying, space-time transcending emotional element that we call love. I hope that these letters will be worth reading in times of companion animal loss, not with the wish to make the deceased loved ones manifest in some way, but to let them go with love and gratitude.
Dear Dr. Fox: My Yorkie, whom I loved dearly, died in November of 2005. I have his ashes on a table in my bedroom (because he always was with me in the bedroom) and kept his collar, special sweater and special toy. Shortly after he died my daughter and I both would hear him barking or yelping. I even thought I heard him walking through the hallway. I still feel his presence greatly even though we have moved from the home he lived in and still miss him so very much! KSM, Springdale, MD
Dear Dr. Fox: For Christmas in 1982, my husband and sons gave me a beautiful, registered, male Cocker Spaniel puppy. Although he was purchased from a “reputable” person, he became very ill, and we spent almost as much as we paid for him, just getting him well. In 1992, he, again, became ill. I took him to our vet, Dr. Jed Ford, who told me that he was very ill due to kidney failure, and that we might consider radical measures. I told Dr. Ford that I could not put him to sleep and was there no other form of treatment. Dr. Ford gave me a 10 day supply of antibiotics and asked that I call him the next morning. I gave Skipper two doses and by the time that I called Dr. Ford the next day, Skipper was his old self again. Dr. Ford was amazed and advised me to continue the medication. In further checkups, Dr. Ford again advised that his kidneys were failing and it would only be a matter of time. Skipper lived almost exactly two more years, until he began having seizures and I could not see my beloved dog suffer. We put him to sleep on November 8, 1994.
Being a Cocker Spaniel, Skipper had a “shedding problem” and we, for the whole time that he was alive, would find “Skipper hair” throughout the house. Strangely enough, after he was gone, we still continued to find “Skipper hair”. We have done renovations on our home in the years since, but continue to find it in drawers, closets, under the bed, etc. Perhaps the most unusual thing happens many mornings when I step out of bed. Skipper slept beside our bed (on my side) as he became older. The floor on my side of the bed (incidentally, he is buried just beyond our bedroom wall, in our garden) is warm. I, my husband and our sons, have no doubt that Skipper still inhabits and guards our home. He was and is still a most beloved member of our family. S.T., North Richland Hills, Texas
Dear Dr. Fox, Our cat Sissy was twenty years old when she passed on, and she was the Queen of the household. She ruled over Dante, our Boxer dog. Her favorite ploy was to sit in all her fluffy glory, tail wrapped around her legs, casually licking her paw, in the doorway between the kitchen and the den. She knew that as long as she sat there, Dante did not dare to pass her, and thus she blocked his entrance to the kitchen as long as she wished, usually until his pitiful whining brought someone to his rescue.
After her death, I saw her sitting, licking her paw in that same doorway. She appeared for a fraction of a second, almost every day for about two weeks. I thought I had lost my mind at that time, and have kept this ‘vision’ to myself since then. M.G., Fort Worth, TX
Dear Dr. Fox, A year and a half ago we had to put our beloved rescue dog, Penny, to sleep. Penny was near death from starvation when found by my sister living in a pile of tires on an empty lot. She was a loving, gentle, yellow lab. We always said that she was a person in a dog suit. We were devastated when we had to put her down after 14 years and we were crying for two weeks.
One morning after wishing for a sign from her that she was happy, I was on the phone and I was looking at the clouds in the sky. For some reason I was drawn to a nondescript small wispy cloud. It changed before my eyes into a smiling face of a dog with two eyes, a nose and 5 round puffs that formed a smile. My husband was sitting and reading the paper and was stunned when I said. “Look there is Penny”. I was so thrilled that I couldn’t move to get my camera. It was there for at least 10 seconds. I drew it on paper and I will paint it to keep that happy feeling in my heart. V.M., Fresno, CA
Dear Dr. Fox, I want to share our experience with our Boxer dog Gretchen. She was in the habit of sleeping down stairs in the living room in front of the fireplace and would wait until she thought my husband and I were asleep before coming upstairs to check on me first and then walk around to check on my husband after which she would go downstairs to sleep. We became accustomed o this—but we knew even after she was gone that she still did this because we could hear her nails clicking on the step as she came upstairs.
But what really convinced me was when our four grandchildren came to spend the night and slept down in the living room. The next morning the two oldes were talking about what happened after they had gone to sleep. The younger of these two was awakened by a sound like Gretchen’s claws on the hardwood floor. She poked her older sister who sat up, told her that it was only Gretchen and to go back to sleep. She had said “Hi Gretch,” on seeing her at her usual spot by the fireplace, and went back to sleep. When questioned further, both girls said that they had actually seen as well as heard Gretchen, who had died several years earlier from cancer. L. Du V. St. Charles, MO
Dear Dr. Fox, Re the item from Naples, FL in your syndicated Animal Doctor column about a couple hearing their deceased dog’s collar jiggle for three months after the dog’s death. My husband and I had a similar experience after our dog died. We have both heard our dog bark, usually when we were in different parts of the house. This occurred maybe once or twice a week for about four months after her death. M.E., Boca Raton, FL
Dear Dr. Fox, My husband and I both read your syndicated newspaper column in the Asbury Park Press. Today’s article touched on something that has happened to both of us, independently. We both “saw” a fleeting vision of our cat who passed away January 12, 2008, in our house in NJ.
I have always believed in the spirit that lives on, both in humans and animals. My husband, not so much until it happened to him. Our beloved pet of 16 years, Jezebel, passed away in January while we were in Florida. We had her cremated and brought her home with us to NJ. After we were home, I could swear I saw her in the house on several occasions. I never said anything to my husband.
In June, I went to a friend’s house with several others for a psychic “reading”. I showed Cathy a picture of Jezebel, and the first thing she said was Jezebel wanted to know when we were getting another cat. The second thing Cathy said is that Jezebel was still with us. Had I “seen” her, just a motion out of the corner of my eye; I said yes.
When I got home, I told my husband what she had said, and he then told me he had also seen Jezebel, but didn’t say anything either because it just couldn’t be true. We both thought it was just our grief for her and we missed her so much we wanted to see her. Now, I’m pretty sure she was here until she knew we got another cat and were OK. The spirit does live on. We just can’t “prove” it, but we can sense it. A.B., Brick, NJ
Dear Dr. Fox, For six years I was the joyous and totally captured owner of a male ferret who had the run of the house. I was amazed at his affection, intelligence, persistence, ingenuity, and the delight he took in ambushing my girlfriend’s socked feet as she walked by in the dark, and in chasing my whining male Shih-Tzu around the house, not trying to hurt either of them, just enjoying the response he was getting.
Often while the dog was eating out of his bowl, the ferret would stick his nose into the bowl causing the dog to jump back startled a couple of feet and then growl at the intrusion. I would then call the ferret over to me while the dog watched and peace would descend over the feeding station.
Alas, the little guy passed away from cancer while my son and I held him, broken hearted. He was laid to rest in my rock garden with his favorite toy. For the next three or four months I would hear rustling noises at night under the furniture although they sounded far away. My dog would jump up and whine while staring at my darkened doorway and while eating would occasionally jump back and growl at his food bowl at which point, with the dogs eyes following, I would call the phantom ferret over to me and once again there would be peace. I guess he was so loved and happy it took a while for him to leave. T.C., Fort Worth, TX
Dear Dr. Fox, You know, nobody ever loved anybody more than I loved (and always will love) my big, sweet beauty—a female Newfoundland dog, Candy, who had to be euthanized in 2001 after she developed bloat after eating dinner. Candy’s spirit has manifested in numerous ways in the seven years since she had to be put to sleep! The night after her death I saw her spirit appear as a cloud of mist in my bedroom at around 1:am. The same thing happened the following night.
Since that time I have smelled her perfumy aura, spotted fresh paw prints on carpeting, heard her bark; I found clumps of her black hair around the house. Candy’s spirit came to live with us the night after she had to be put to sleep. And she continued living [manifesting] with us for the next 21⁄2 years.
Then these signs began to reappear when a young, medium-sized black dog came to live in the area and often comes into our yard. We know we haven’t been experiencing grief-induced hallucinations because what we really longed to see was a full physical manifestation of Candy—which we never have seen. Therefore it is unlikely that what we saw were simply grief-related, wish-fulfilling hallucinations.
R.D.P., Hendersonville, NC
Dear Dr. Fox, In 2003, my 13 year old orange Tabby Hobbes, began to waste away and weaken. The vets could not find what was wrong with him and on October 21, I had him sadly put to sleep. My birthday is October 23 I had no desire for festivities.
Hobbes was strangely attached to me. He always wanted to be with me. After his death, I felt emptiness in the house. Although I have other cats, I just felt the lack of his presence. I told my husband I wanted to go to the local animal rescue facility “just to look at kittens.” So, not long after we lost Hobbes, we went to the facility.
The minute I walked in, I saw a cute little bundle of orange fur. The kitten was so tiny and adorable. Gently my husband tapped me on the shoulder and said “Look up there.” I had been oblivious to any other cat. There, in a cage above and to the left was an older orange kitten, about 6 months old. He was rolling around, sticking his paws out of the cage and mewing. The name on the cage was Hobbes. He was the only cat with a name on his cage.
I asked the shelter workers about him. He had been brought to the shelter on October 21 (the day Hobbes died), by a family who had found him as a tiny kitten. They said he was too active and that he used their sofa as a litter box. They also said his name was Hobbes. My husband and I stood there, speechless. Was all this a coincidence? No way, really.
I proceeded to adopt Hobbes. When I brought him home my three year old son said, “Look mommy, Hobbbes went to the doctor old and came back a baby.”
Incidentally, Hobbes has a strange attachment to me. He is eerily like his predecessor. (He even dislikes my cat Askim just like his predecessor). And he always uses his litter box.
N.L.K., Henderson, NC
Dear Dr Fox, I read your recent article and just had to write to you to let you know I have had a beloved deceased pet “haunt” me as well.
My beloved 5- year old tri-colored beagle named Sasha started to fail, (after being very inbred) when I was pregnant, back in 2001. He suffered to my horror (and I blamed myself) and I had him put down on Sept 16, 2001, 5 days after 9-11, (in which I lost 3 friends).
I was not there for him during his last days due to my own loss, and I did not know he was actually dying. He passed, and I was 5 months along in my pregnancy and utterly devastated! I held his collar in my hands and bawled for hours, and days. I began to hear him around the apartment. I heard the clicking of his long nails on the hardwood floors… I heard him grunting and moving his chunky little body under my side of the bed, (where he slept in life all the time). My husband, who is deathly afraid of ghosts, heard all this too, but would NOT talk about it.
One night, we were sitting up in bed watching TV, and we both heard Sasha doing his routine at the foot of the bed in which he sounded like an 18 wheeler as he settled down and snorted, for the night. We looked at each other, and I asked him “did you hear that!” MY husband was terrified and said “yes and shut up!”
I said-“go see what it is!!” he refused, adamantly, and we sat there and did nothing, too afraid to go look and perhaps see a little ghost dog lying there.
I heard Sasha less and less over the next 2 months or so, then he stopped coming. When I had open-heart surgery in 2003, and another major operation in 2007, and was near death both times, I and only I heard him again, just a little bit. I longed for him. I have forgiven myself for what I think I had done wrong in his care, because I think him coming to me was him trying to comfort me, so he didn’t blame me!
Years later I went to the doggy day care place I had spoiled him with when I had to work, (which he adored) and I told them about his ghost and I asked the girls there if anyone had ever heard this happening before. They immediately launched into stories of little ghostly dog noses being placed in the hands of workers at night when they are at the desk doing paperwork in the office, (which was always open to the babysat dogs). His vet, I also asked, and he was not surprised, and said he had heard of such things happening many times.
L. S., Ocean Township, NJ
Dear Dr. Fox, I read your article today about life after life and our dog Misty died August 19, 2007 but never left. She was 16 years old with diabetes with shots twice a day for three years and hip dysplasia. I kept her alive for about 2 weeks by making her favorite foods and carrying her out to the bathroom. She finally stopped drinking and eating and two days later Charles, my husband, made the decision to put her to sleep.
A couple of days later Charles took her bed to the animal shelter since it was an actual mattress and figured it could make another dog happy. I was watching TV in the bedroom and heard a dog come in and throw themselves down. We have another dog - a pit pull/shepherd that is very light on his feet and doesn’t do that. I turned on the light and there wasn’t any dog. I went to look for Ray and he was in another room sleeping.
In the fall, she would come and throw herself down in front of the fire place. Ray would go over in that area and wag his tail at thin air. Now the really weird part: She has been shedding real fur. I have been finding it all over. Ray is white and Misty was a black lab so there is no mistaking the hair. Charles said I was nuts until he came across tufts of shedded black hair.
I also vacuum a lot because I have a couple of parrots that are always throwing food so there is no way this could have been overlooked for over a year. After seeing your pictures, I’m going to take a picture of the fire place the next time I hear her throw herself down. I think she always laid down in a crash was because of her hip dysplasia. Ray is so light on his feet - you never near him coming.
C.P., Cedar Run, N.J.
Dear Dr. Fox, I had one ‘spirit’ visitations 20 years ago. I had a little 10-month old Birman kitten that I was very attached to. I had no choice but to have him put to sleep because he had “kitty AIDs” and finally went into seizures. (Shame on the breeder who sold him to me, because I’m certain she knew he was sick when I bought him! And I was too young to know this at the time). Several mornings after his death, I was just waking up in bed and felt him jump onto my legs and walk around a bit. I know it was his spirit or whatever, because he did this every morning like clockwork.
My other cat was sound asleep by my side. Although I did not “see” anything, the feeling of his presence was so strong, I’m certain it was his spirit coming back, maybe to say goodbye to me. This never happened again. Also, my other cat had mothered him when he was sick, and she searched the house for days looking for her little buddy.
E.G., St Louis, MO
Dear Doctor Fox: My family, on my mother’s side, has been on this side of the pond since 1614, Jamestown, before the massacres. After the Civil War, my great- great- grandmother decided to leave her plantation, called Ditchley, and move to southeastern Virginia. Eventually a house was built in Portsmouth in 1885 (called the small house as it only had about 30 rooms, to differentiate it from the big house up the street). Only my family has lived in this lovely Art Nouveau-style house, and it is well known for being haunted. Stories about our house have been written in several books on Virginia ghosts, and the posters for the annual Halloween walk in Olde Towne features our house. Footsteps heard are two-footed as well as four:
My great grandmother, Edmonia Maupin, had forbidden the marriage between her son and my grandmother, Florence Brailey. They waited until after she died, and then promptly married. Edmonia came back to haunt my grandmother and all her descendants, and all while I was growing up, we were never to utter Edmonia’s name in her presence. Edmonia has been seen again and again coming down the spiral staircase, and on the second landing.
It is said in the South that unless you are born to see, one cannot see ghosts. My father can, and also saw Edmonia, and I inherited my second sight from him. My mother and aunt, identical twins born from the forbidden marriage, have tried very hard over the years to catch any sightings of their grandmother, but they we not able to, and had to settle for the stories they heard from others. My sister also was not born to see.
During this period through the Civil War, my family had a slave named Miles Portlock. When the war was over, he declared he had no intention of leaving, indeed, because he was part of the family and was dearly loved. He moved with the family to Portsmouth, and in the early 1930’s, when my mother and aunt were children, they remember him well. He was very old by this time, and my family provided him with a pension. Still, he insisted on coming each day to the house, to tend to his beloved garden, poking out weeds with a special silver-topped cane my grandfather had given him. His fierce loyalty to the family extended beyond death and he is still seen wandering in the garden with his silver topped cane. Other times he can be found sitting on an ornately carved wooden chair warming himself by an unlit fireplace in the front hall.
Which brings me to the animals. There is a corner of the garden where family pets have been buried. As you can imagine, for almost 125 years, that amounts to many beloved pets. You can see gentle depressions all over the area, where the soil has sunk in over time. My grandmother raised dogs, and in my own family, we have gently buried 4 dogs and 4 cats.
Over the decades, I, and others, clearly hear the sound of canine footfalls, always behind us, but then always stop when we turn around. They don’t bark, but there is no mistaking the sound of the dogs. The cats we have never heard, only the dogs. One of the dogs I know is Simon, a dog who, when I was 5, sacrificed his life in order to save mine from a vicious dog attack. He died in that garden saving me.
D.E.M.B., Arlington, VA
Dear Dr. Fox, I was given in the first year of my marriage a Dalmatian (almost) pup for Christmas. She was a loving, active, smart dog. My husband was seldom at home and Christy was our defense and protection. She was seldom away from the children and made me feel safe alone at home.
It was her habit to sleep on the floor next to my bed. At night I would hear her flop down and sigh and we would both go off to sleep. When she died in her 12th year I would hear her flop down and sigh each night for months. As you can imagine she was sorely missed but her staying close at night was a great blessing. It went on for some months and then stopped.
B.S., Annapolis, MD **************************************************************** Dear Dr. Fox, Here is my pet ‘beyond the grave’ experience tucked in my memory for 56 years. The year was 1952 and I was working for the U.S. Government in Washington, DC. I lived in a boarding house, rooming with two other girls. One of them had a little Chinese Pekingese dog named Wang-Chu. At night he slept under a dresser. There he would make smacking sounds. To me, away from home, it was a comforting sound. Poor Wang-Chu die suddenly.
The night after his death, his smacking sounds woke all three of us. We were spooked as we lay there in our beds discussing this strange phenomenon that just happened. I jumped up and turned on the lamp next to my bed. The light flickered very rapidly and went out. Doubly spooked, we didn’t sleep that night. Needless to say it was the main topic at the boarding house table the next day.
A.F., Washington, DC
MORE EVIDENCE OF LIFE AFTER LIFE
I received several letters subsequent to the above between 2016-2020 from readers of my syndicated newspaper column Animal Doctor following the publication of this account along with a photograph of the mysterious appearance of the deceased dog’s fur:
DEAR DR. FOX: I want to thank you again for your help over the years with our German shepherd Markus’ health problems that eventually reached the point where we had to decide on euthanasia because he was suffering so much.
Many days after his departure, which we deeply mourned, we seem to have received a “sign” from him (photos attached). We are skeptical about things like this, but we found pieces of fur on the carpet runner last Thursday morning where Markus used to lie down before coming down the stairs lately. This area had been previously cleaned and stepped on but the pieces of fur (obviously from an animal) have not been stepped on or scattered around this area. They are really noticeable to the naked eye and are displayed in a certain way like a dog’s paw. One more detail: the whole runner has been covered with newspapers for the last 2-3 weeks.
Newspapers were removed after his departure and there was no sign of these pieces of fur at that time. I decided to take pictures because nobody will believe me and perhaps think that I’m getting a little crazy.
I thought I would share this experience with you and hear your comments. This is beyond our comprehension.
M.S., Washington, DC
DEAR M.S.: I was so saddened to hear from you about the necessary humane decision to euthanize Markus.
I detail many instances of apparent after-life communications or manifestations by people’s beloved animals in my books Dog Body, Dog Mind and Cat Body, Cat Mind. I would like to hear from other readers who have had comparable “visitations” which can be in various modalities such as seeing the animal’s form, hearing the claws/paws on the floor, the jangle of tags on the collar, feeling the familiar touch of the animal and finding the animal’s fur around the house. While grief and trace-memories of aspects of the living animal’s physical presence may trigger brief sensory hallucinations, there is evidence, as when two or more people in the home experience the same physical presence/sensation at the same moment that there is indeed more to life and death than we ever dreamed of! I like the metaphysical statement that the spirit is not in the body, the body is in the spirit.
DEAR DR. FOX: Having just read your column about a deceased dog seeming to have left traces of fur on a cleaned and paper-covered carpet where he used to regularly lie I thought you might be interested in 2 cases where our dead dogs came back to visit us. Woodrow was a black Husky mix with a sweet and loving personality. As he reached the age of 13 or so, he found it difficult to get up because of arthritis. One had to gently pull him from the front to help him get to standing position.
Our oldest daughter and her husband kept him for us while we went away for a few days. Our son-in-law (who doesn’t like dogs in general) was impatient with Woodrow who was under the dining room table while they were eating. He couldn’t get out on his own, and my son-in-law became impatient with him (even though the dog wasn’t begging for food). Consequently, the dog was yelled at and pushed and shoved at his backside where he was in pain. The dog bit him severely. Given an ultimatum by our son-in-law, we had to put Woodrow down. About 2 days later his smiling face (head only) showed up to both another daughter of ours and me while we were half asleep. It was like he was letting us who loved him know that he was happy and OK. For years I thought maybe we both were just dreaming this until our next dog, a sheltie by the name of Alex came back to visit. At about 15 years old, Alex, who also had the most loving personality—and arthritis—died while being boarded while we were on vacation. I’d had a premonition about it happening, but still wasn’t prepared for it when it happened. About 3 days later we came back, picked up his ashes and a paw print mold that the vet had ready for us. The next night, I think it was, I heard his slow footsteps walking in to the kitchen and his drinking of water from the bowl we had for our other dog. His chain was clanking the whole time against the bowl while he drank. I thought it was our remaining dog; but he was sleeping on the sofa, curled up against my wife. Then I heard Alex walking back into the room where the rest of us were.
The same thing happened the next night. While I felt he was showing his love for us in his former life with us, I told him how much we loved him and what a wonderful dog he was, but that in death he was supposed to be able to run and play and be without pain or any limitation—so if he saw that he was able to do that if he didn’t remain with us, he should know that we still loved him greatly, and that he didn’t have to stay with us. My wife also heard all of this. We never heard from him again. Thanks for your work and your articles.
R.C., Glenn Dale, MD
DEAR DR.FOX: I am a fan of yours, especially of your understanding and acknowledgement of our wonderful pets in the after -life. I would like to share my experience.
As a young girl, I had become very, very ill with pneumonia. During the night, a “monk” in brown robes came to me as I found myself standing in my room looking at my body in the bed. I felt beautifully calm and bathed in a very loving light. I seemed to recognize him and knew that I was to go with him. We began to travel very fast, there was a loud rushing sound of wind and the sensation of being in a soft, warm, tunnel as we moved rapidly. We stepped from the tunnel to a place of which I was very familiar. I not only saw deceased relatives but the place was filled with singing birds and animals of all kinds, especially dogs who greeted their owners. Shortly, I was told that it was not my time to stay there permanently and was returned to my body on earth.
This was the most real experience I have ever had. I know that I experienced it. As a lifelong animal lover, the current owner of two dogs and a cat, I have been joyous ever since at the knowledge that animals have spirits and join us in the hereafter.
Please know that I am not a “kook,” but am a practicing, respected licensed psychotherapist who raised two wonderful, very intelligent, successful, and well- adjusted daughters, and am in a happy 33 year marriage.
Thank you for providing an accepting forum for me and others to share our wonderful experiences.
J.A.P., LCSW, Naples, FL
DEAR DR. FOX: Wanted to share my supernatural dog story with you. In truth I’ve had 2 spectral appearances—one human visual one, and this one which happened first. It was sometime between 2006-2008, can’t recall which. I’d lost 2 dogs previously, 1 Scottie, one Westie, but at that time I had 2 more sleeping dogs in my room, again, one Scottie, Kira, and a Westie named Silby. My Mom had been ill and was asleep up the hall. I always kept my bedroom door slightly ajar so I could hear her if she needed me, but I never left it open wider than an inch as light disturbed me. Kira, however, had been known to open it the rest of the way as she liked to sleep on the bathroom tile.
Sometime about 1 a.m. I was awakened by the clickety-clack of little dog feet on the hardwood floor, heading toward my Mom’s room. I didn’t turn on the light at all but said “Come back in here which ever one of you is out there—leave Mom alone.”. I didn’t want to risk her getting up in the night and falling over a dog that she didn’t know was there. The steps stopped, so I assumed the dog had come back into my room which was carpeted. I fell back to sleep. Sometime later, I was again awakened by the same sound of doggie nails clicking up the hall. I sat up in bed, and turned on the light, furious that one of them had started up the hall again, only to discover both of the living dogs sound asleep in their beds. I was sure that what I’d heard was not a mouse, or some other creature, because mice scurry, they don’t sound like dogs –never mind I hadn’t seen a mouse in the house in years. I turned the light back out and smiled, grateful one of the deceased dogs was on patrol.
The second spectral event happened 10⁄2010, when I was wide awake, but that one involved the vision of my Mom who’d died in 2009, so I won’t bother you with that.
J.J., University City, MO
DEAR DR. FOX: My husband and I have raised rescued chocolate and black labs. I read your recent article about signs from pets. Three years ago, we had to say, “Good bye” to our 17 yrs old chocolate lab, Snickers. While the vet sent her to heaven in our home, our 12 years old black lab, Pepper, sat by her side. That night, Pepper slept in Snicker’s bed. During the night, we heard a scratching on the wall, a habit of Snicker’s in her late years. Thinking that Pepper was taking up this habit, we went down to investigate. What we found was Pepper sound asleep, snoring. Pepper looked up at us as soon as all both heard the faintest of barks. Snickers was letting us know she was OK.
Recently we had to say goodbye to Pepper. Bone cancer took her at 15. Again we had the vet come to the house and Cocoa, our 5 years old chocolate lab sat by Pepper’s side. That night Cocoa and I were sitting on the couch next to Pepper’s bed. We both heard a scratching sound near the bed. Cocoa jumped down to stare at the bed. She shook her head up and down when we both heard a soft bark. Cocoa then laid down in the bed and went to sleep. Pepper was letting us know she was OK. I agree with you that there is indeed more to life and death than we ever dreamed of.
D.C. Fairfield, CT
DEAR DR.FOX: I read your column regularly and often visit your web site. In today’s column you asked to hear about others who had “visitations” by deceased pets. Two years ago we had to put down our little Yorkie due to renal failure that we’d been treating for over a year. When she started having seizures and had 7 within a 12 hour period we knew it was time so that she wouldn’t suffer. We got her as kind of a rescue and had her for 12 years.
During that time she had many health problems and by the end her vet file was as thick as a book. She was a feisty, cute and brave little thing that loved us as much as we loved her. She was like a little child. We were very closely bonded and at night she would sleep in bed with us and when I came to bed would curl up against my shoulder for the night. Several nights after we had to euthanize her I would wake up during the night for about a week feeling her curled up against me like when she was alive. Also several times over the few weeks after her death I would swear I could hear her distinctive bark.
It wasn’t just me. About three years before her death we adopted a Beagle/Jack Russel mix (head and personality of a Beagle with a short, compact muscular body of a Jack Russel) that was saved from a kill shelter. When I heard the barking she would look up and pick up her ears. The few years they had together they weren’t particularly close in that they didn’t play together but they would curl up with each other and sleep together during the day. After the Yorkie’s death (her name was Gabby), Chloe (beagle/Jack Russel mix) has been even more clingy than before and always wants us near her.
L.T., Wappingers Falls, NY
DEAR DR. FOX: Just read your article about reports of contact after death with a pet. Several years ago we had to put down our dog. She was a part of our family for many years. For many months prior to her death, she would walk up the stairs to our bedroom where she slept on the floor. Her dog tags would jingle as she came up the stairs. Shortly after her death, I was lying in bed late at night. I heard the jingle of her tags coming up the stairs. I thought I was hearing what I wanted to hear and did not mention it to anyone. A few days later, my wife mentioned that she thought she had heard the jingle of the tags and the dog come into the bedroom. Since this was after our dog’s death, she did not mention it to me before because she thought she was just hearing things. I asked her if it was Tuesday night. She looked astonished; it was Tuesday. We both heard the jingle of the tags the same night and time but could not believe what we heard. We do now.
Many months later our oldest daughter visited our home. We told her of our experience that Tuesday. I think she almost fainted. She said that she had heard the same sound one night at the house. She had not said anything because she, like us, thought she was just hearing things and we would think that she was crazy. We moved from that house several years ago but, before we left, we made sure to tell our dog that we were leaving and she should come with us. Although we have not had any such experience since then, we like to think that she did.
B.B., Bismarck ND
DEAR DR. FOX: I just read your article about pet visitations after death. I too have had that experience. Our beloved Shepard mix Ginger passed to early. That first night in the house without her my daughter and I were sitting on the sofa. We both heard the sound of a dog exhale and lie down on the floor (where Ginger would lay as we watched TV).
Then in the middle of the night I heard the jangle of dog tags coming down the hallway towards the bedrooms. I like to think it was her way of making sure we were OK one last time before she left.
I wasn’t ready for another dog for a good year or two. Then one day I was talking out loud to Ginger and said if you see a dog that needs help I guess it would be OK if we got another dog. A week later my daughter rescued a puppy that was abandoned on the side of the road. I like to think Ginger had something to do with that.
L.O., Normal, OK
DEAR DR. FOX: I read the “Dog’s communication after death” column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on 09.01.2016. You asked for other stories of “visitations”, and I have one you may find interesting. My dog had passed nineteen months earlier, but he paid a visit one night, for this I am sure. I post this yearly on my Facebook page as well as send it to any friend who has recently lost a pet. His name was King.
He Waits Last week I woke from a mid -summer night With a most peaceful feeling while lying in my bed Standing beside with his head near my side I saw him in the dim light I felt his presence, looked deep into his eyes and knew it was him He Waits For Me Was it really him or am I dreaming I wondered No, it was him, no doubt, he came back to check on me I turned to look at the ceiling, to comprehend my find Looking back in a flash to call his name, he was gone as suddenly as he had appeared He Waits For Me He was there that night, he came to me, to tell me he was o.k. In the dark of the night he came to me I saw the softness of his eyes, he was free from pain and age, I knew it was him I closed my eyes to try to sleep as tears ran down my cheeks My Red Dog Waits For Me
D.K., St Louis MO
DEAR DR. FOX: This may be a little long and I apologize for that, but I feel I need to share the entire story. On August 25, 2014, we tragically lost our only son, Michael when he was 22 years old to an accidental heroin overdose.
He had been battling addiction for several years and had stayed clear of heroin for over a year which is why I questioned how he died. When I found him there were no signs of drug use. A small part of me wondered if he had taken his own life even though I didn’t really think so. Several weeks later on the day we got the medical examiner’s report and found out it was heroin, that night Michael visited me while I was dreaming.
He appeared to me not in a dream but interrupting a dream. I felt his presence as solidly as you feel the wall your leaning against yet there was no physical substance. I knew instantly that he was there with me and I said “Michael, it’s you, it’s really you. I don’t know why you’re here but since you are can I give you a hug?” I tried to look at him and see him as he was in life.
It was difficult but I finally was able to see his face and when I did, he gave me a sweet smile and nodded his head yes. I wrapped him in my arms and he said to me “I didn’t want to die”. I then said to him that each of us is on our own journey. He then said “and I know what mine is.” He then began to try to tell me excitedly about his journey but our connection faded.
Anyway, this story does continue as he contacted me two more times since then, but for the purpose of the dog story which is this whole point I will end Michael’s story here. Two months after Michael’s passing, our beloved little dachshund mix Blake (Blakey) was tragically struck by a vehicle when she ran into a busy street by our home. She figured out how to escape from the backyard weeks earlier and we kept trying to figure out how she was doing it. We would think that we figured it out and then fix it so she couldn’t get out again but yet she just kept finding a way.
One evening in October of 2014 she escaped again. My husband and I were standing on our driveway looking for her and calling for her. I suddenly felt strongly and said to my husband that this was going to be the night that her luck runs out. Just then we heard tires screeching and the impact. We ran and saw her lying in the street. She died before we got to the animal hospital. It was very difficult for us as we loved her so much.
Several weeks later, Blakey appeared to me when I was dreaming just like Michael did. She was at my feet so excitedly wagging her tail and so happy to see me. I was so happy to see her too. I said, just as with Michael, “Blakey, it’s you, you’re really here.” I got down to her level and I let her lick me all over my face. This was something she always wanted to do in life, but I never let her because of dog germs and all.
But this time I thought what the heck and I let her and It was wonderful. I was holding her head between my hands when she suddenly became very quiet and serene. She looked up at me, closed her eyes, put her ears back then put her cheek up against mine. I couldn’t believe it. I knew instantly that she came back to give me a hug, first the way she always wanted to, then the way she must have known I always wanted to.
I like to think the scenario between Michael and Blakey when they met went like this. Michael says to Blakey, hey, I know how you can give Mom a hug, want me to tell you how? Then Blakey says very excitedly, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. They’re visits to me have helped me immensely in my healing process. I want to thank you Dr. Fox for giving all of us this forum for sharing our stories and for all of your wonderful information and advice concerning the beautiful and wonderful animal kingdom.
P.F., St. Louis, MO
DEAR DR. FOX: I write this with a very heavy heart, but I wanted to share my experience with my 2 beloved cats that passed away within one month of each other, first my cat Tiger Woods passed on July 5th, he was only at best around 9, they said he had lymphoma, it was as if my sweet cat woke up one day and he was so ill, he had no signs of it before that, and my cat Stripey passed on August 1st
I found him on my kitchen floor as he had been failing for 2 years and I am ashamed to admit he did not see a vet as he did not want that, I was basically keeping him alive with holistic care and he was very happy, until a few weeks before the end, he was emaciated, and had been very weak for a time, but still eating until the last 2 days…my story is that a few times after Tiger Woods I saw things peripherally and I am not imagining this, I had this happen in 2012 when my 18 year old cat Toby passed, I would see the black shadow of a cat walking by me, this time it was the rubbing on my leg as I sat on my couch as Tiger did this and bit my toes a lot. He loved to crawl under the blankets in my bed, and I felt and saw the blanket move a bit one morning and I said oh what was that? and then I realized it had to be him.
There have been other things such as siting at my computer desk and feel the rubbing of a cat on my leg and saying okay wait as I have 4 other cats, and no one is there….so this is my story and I am so sure it is very, very true.
P.F., Hamden, CT
DEAR DR. FOX, I took in my mother’s dog Charley, at her request, when she died and I loved Charley for many more years. At some point after he died I began seeing cloud formations that—believe it or not—looked exactly like Charley. The exact shape of his head and ears, the thick fur over his back especially; the exact proportions of his extremities and always he looks as though he were running, an activity that he enjoyed in life. I generally see him in the sky every 5-6 months. To me, this entire phenomenon is unbelievable.
N.N., Washington, DC
DEAR N.N., The mind can play tricks indeed especially when auditory, tactile and visual memories are aroused and we then hear, feel or see what seems to be an authentic manifestation of some clear aspect of a deceased animal ( or person). But after-death manifestations do have an element of veracity when experienced by other family members and especially when witnessed at the same time.
Our postal delivery man gave me a photograph of clouds that their young daughter pointed out to them in excitement because it looked just like their own dog Brandie who had died from liver cancer almost a year earlier. They all saw their dig in the sky as daughter Lisa took photographs He told me that no one else could see the image in the sky at his daughter’s school field day, and he felt it was a sign to his family. Imagination, coincidence or metaphysical phenomenon, most people feel a sense of comfort and reassurance (of life after life?) from such experiences. Here is the photo taken on that cloudy day:
DEAR DR, FOX: I can relate to the reader who wrote about his two deceased dogs coming back to visit him. I, too, had that great experience with my beloved black Labrador King. He was 10 years old when he died in November.
About a week after he died I was in my bedroom, crying. I looked out my window and saw a set of dog prints in the snow. I went outside. The gate was closed and had a lock on it. I opened it and saw dog prints and I followed them for about 8 feet right into the middle of my yard! I followed them for about 8 feet and then they just disappeared right in the middle of my yard. I knew it was King, since no dog could possibly jump the fence, let alone leave paw prints that led to nowhere. I came in and had the most peaceful feeling ever, knowing my King was still here with me.
P.C., St. Charles, MO.
DEAR DR. FOX: In 1996 at 13 years of age I had to put Nell, my almost all-black Border collie to sleep because she had developed cancer in her uterus and it had spread to her bowel. I felt tremendous guilt for not having her spayed and blamed myself for her death.
Shortly after her death I started seeing her. I would come home from work, turn down my street and see Nell standing in my yard. She would disappear around the corner of the house. I felt like she was haunting me because of my not taking care of my responsibilities as a pet owner.
Meg, my other collie who was 14, had arthritis and was having difficulty doing the steps. I would go outside with her, support her as she went down the steps. We walked out the back door, walked over to the corner of the house, and I saw Nell (ghost) standing in the front yard. But the amazing thing is Meg reacted to her, and started trotting toward the front of the house wagging her tail. This happened on several occasions.
In April of 1997 I had to have Meg put to sleep because her kidneys started failing. After Meg was gone I never saw Nell again. But I started feeling Meg around me. As she was a herding dog, she had always walked behind me, and if I wasn’t moving fast enough, she would nudge the back of my leg with her nose. I got another Border Collie in May, ‘97. I still felt Meg nudging me, and my new puppy Gem seemed to see something. She would stop, wag her tail at what seemed to be nothing, and sometimes bark. Gem was a tri-colored collie with a lot of white on her coat.
On Christmas morning ‘97, I got up fed Gem, took her outside and showered. I put Gem back in her kennel and climbed back in bed, as my husband was still asleep. I woke up and heard my husband in the shower, rolled over and looked toward the bedroom door, and saw a dog standing there wagging her tail. Thinking this was Gem, I said to her “Did Daddy let you out of your pen?” I realized that this was not Gem, as this dog was mostly black. I knew this was Meg because Meg had this different was of wagging her tail. Rather than swish her tail back and forth Meg seemed to wag her tail as if she were making ovals in the air. I called Meg’s name, and she went into the living room. I jumped up to follow her but she was gone. I feel as though she came back to see the model train we set around the Christmas tree, and to get her squeaky toys which she dearly loved.
C. McG., Shady Side, MD.
DEAR DR. FOX, I have to tell you about a strange thing that has been happing to me over the last 4 weeks. We moved into 55 and older community about 3 years ago, I would take a hour nap in the afternoon and this time I felt something touch me on the feet ! This touching happened again in the evening. It happened every time I tried to sleep. About a week ago while I was asleep I felt something touch my face; I felt something jump on my legs. Whatever jumped on me was small ( it felt like four paws ). The next day while sleeping I felt something on the bed and was laying tight against my back. (I was sleeping on my left side). Whenever I moved the object disappeared. This happened every time I tried to get a sleep!
I decided to set up, a camera to record what was happening while I was asleep. The video showed a outline of a cat that was gray on the white bedcover ,the image turn around very slowly and you can see a outline of a cats face. You had to look very closely to see something was happening ,I set up my I -pad a second time and you can see a the distinctive shape of a cat body tail head and paws .I did not want to tell my wife in case she thought I was hallucinating, My wife looked at the videos and is now a believer ,I have never owned a cat and I am not a cat person .I don’t know why it would keep coming to me on the bed .Thank you
T.G., San Diego CA
DEAR DR. FOX: I just finished reading a woman’s story about her beloved cat, Coco who crossed the rainbow bridge, but still visited her frequently at night. This made my heart smile. My own beloved, mixed calico Poco passed a little more than 2 years ago. Though my heart is still broken, I often hear her running up and down the stairs at night. Ours was a friendship deep rooted in mutual love. Crazy?
L.P. Stroudsburg, PA
DEAR DR.FOX: My wife and I read the article about the dog owner who said he saw his dog after he passed away. We had a cat, Junior, for 22 years. He passed 8 years ago now. For a few years after, my wife and I would wake up having felt Junior walking across the bed at night just like he used to, going around our feet from her to me. He would split the night with each of us. He always slept on the outside and never between us. We miss him still and I would never thought such things occur but it did. After a time it stopped. I am sure someone will say it was grief. I will not try to argue that, but it was very real to us.
T.S., Palm Beach Gardens, FL
DEAR L.P. & T.S.: This phenomenon and question of life-after-life is important to me because we, as a culture, are becoming so embedded in materialism-consumerism and the addictive virtual reality of social media and entertainment cyberspace. So we no longer have communion with Nature, talk to the trees, listen to the birds and cannot see the stars because our energy-consuming night lights have brought the end of darkness across all densely inhabited regions of the planet.
Where is the place, space and time in our daily lives for most us to engage with Nature and the Great Mystery of Life and to explore and experience our “sacred connections” as native American Indians refer to all our relations with the Earth community.
Companion animals, regardless of their human-created genetic anomalies and dependence on their care-givers, provide countless people with such a spiritual connection of love and trust. Those who neither understand nor respect such mutual affection between humans and other species are sadly disconnected, many doing great harm to the environment and other sentient beings.
The bond you had with your cats lives on in your hearts and minds. You could let go and wish them to be free to move on, some metaphysical advisors might suggest. Their manifesting to you in sound, running up and down the stairs at night or snuggling in bed as they did regularly when alive is possibly a projection from your own memory that your grief keeps awakening.
Another possibility is that your grief keeps calling them back because they loved you so much. Either way, let go. I find that reflecting on the life of a beloved animal companion through writing, poetry, or putting together a photo-album through the tears helps alleviate the sense of loss and often incapacitating grief; and leads to celebration and gratitude for that living presence in your life that is no longer.
EXPLAINING THESE PHENOMENA & CLOSING THOUGHTS
DEAR DR.FOX, Religious claims aside, I think that physics provides a better explanation for so-called supernatural manifestations by those who passed on: If we start from two proven premises, that 1. energy cannot be created or destroyed, and that 2. everything in the world is a packet of energy, whose energy field varies its form according to the vibration frequency of its molecules—then it is only natural that there is no such thing as death in the sense of extinction, but rather in the sense of transformation or moving on from one shape to another after having to shed the current shell.
That explains why a loved one’s energy field sometimes lingers around even when the shell is gone. This happened to me in the case of my mother, who came back to me every night for two weeks, and discussed things that happened in the past explaining them in a new light.
N.F., Ph.D. Annandale MD
DEAR DR. FOX, As a Mahayana or ‘zen’ Buddhist, I do not distinguish, in the conscious, between humans and fellow animals.—-We felt our Airedale dog Pickles presence in the house for about a month after he was euthanized at the age of twelve for a cancerous tumor. When our beloved Skye terrier Cullyn passed on at the age of 17 plus, he too ‘came back’ for about a month. We saw our Wire fox terrier Willie 11 sense Cullyn also, and rushed once to Cullyn’s bed and kissed where Cullyn’s head would have been. R.E., Washington DC
DEAR R.E., Siddartha Guatama (a devout Hindu, who was later named the Buddha), and his followers thought that human and other animal beings are probably reincarnated after ‘forty days’ during which time they ‘existed’ where they had died. As you probably know, several books have recounted cases of reincarnation, (where a person alive today can provide vivid, verifiable details of a recent past life.
It should be added that many people have written to me describing vivid dreams wherein their deceased dogs or cats appear alive and in good health. They often greet their owners as though they were quite aware that they had been away, separated from this life. Their lucid presence in dreams usually has a healing quality, helping the bereaved overcome their loss.
In her book Natural Dog (published by BowTie Inc. Irvine CA) veterinarian Dr Deva Khalsa describes an extraordinary, supernatural event in her clinic. A patient’s dog, an old English setter named Morgan, close to dying, was in her clinic under observation while the owners were at work. She writes that she saw “an elderly man with white hair and a closely cropped beard holding Morgan’s head gently in his lap and stroking him. When I got to his cage, however, the stranger was gone. Then Morgan let out a small sigh and peacefully passed away.” After she described this event to the grieving owner she was subsequently shown a photograph and asked if this was the man that she had seen. It was the owner’s father who had died three months earlier and who was best of friends with Morgan.
The attitude or state of mind that accepts these spirit-visitations of the deceased loved ones, be they human or non-human, is open to dimensions of what we call non-ordinary reality—the numinous realm or noumenon, if you wish, behind every phenomenon. From this perspective, these deceased animal ‘visitations’ give us a glimpse of the great mystery of the miraculous that we take for granted—life, and consciousness.
To the closed, rationalistic and mechanistic mentality, this is all in peoples’ imaginations, self-comforting self-delusions fabricated by the neurochemicals of grief and remembrance.
But as documented in prior accounts published in my books Cat Body, Cat Mind, and Dog Body, Dog Mind, very often more than one person at the same time, or at different times in the same home, experience exactly the same manifest presence of a deceased animal companion. The general result is one of great comfort and affirmation of a love shared, which may indeed be the intent of those animals who return for a while during their care givers’ time of grief.
Another explanation is that the astral or etheric ‘double’ of their living, physical form can remain for a while in our material dimension within the unified field of existence upon which the deceased, during life, had made an impression. The disappearance and subsequent reappearance of such manifestations that may come back when ‘called’ or that reappear spontaneously, implies a separate, non-material existence that I believe is evidence of a unified, quantum field beyond our rational comprehension.
Some say that to make a living soul you must have a body and a spirit. In theoretical physics and quantum mechanics there is no fundamental difference between body and spirit—all is pure, primal energy, before form and substance. We are learning how form and substance can be influenced as much by genes and germs as by our thoughts, feelings, appetites and actions. This is the dawning of a more holistic approach to health and healing.
My friend Dr. Temple Grandin, the renowned animal handling and behavior expert, who is autistic, uses the term ‘abstractification’ to describe this detached, rationalistic state of mind. I see it as mechanistic and reductionistic, rather than holistic and empathic. These two modes of human perception and feeling account for a culture lacking in any unified sensibility and concern for sentient life, resulting in much inhumanity and human and animal suffering.
The dualistic nature of reality in this material dimension leads many to believe that there are living spirits that en-soul our bodies, and those of our beloved pets, and all living beings. Others, rationalists, reductionists, and mechanists alike, believe that this is nonsense because it cannot be proven. But phenomenologically and metaphysically, it is self evident. The animating principle, the animus, in order to be expressed, must enjoin with the anima, like an anion complements and balances a cation. This is the essence of dualism.
Dualistic thinking,( along with objectification) that has lead to medicine, for example, treating mind and body separately, is the predominant cognitive mode and level for the human species at this stage of its evolution. For example, some say that the spirit is not in the body. The body is in the spirit. Others contend that the spirit is in the body. Mechanists and other rationalists might acknowledge some life force or animating principle in other living beings, but have no ethical restraint or moral qualms when it comes to destroying forests and cruelly exploiting animals and indigenous peoples. Differences in dualistic perception, from the schizoid and the egotistical to the rationalistic (or abstractionistic) and the narcissistic, point to illusory states of consciousness, or wrong mindfulness in the Buddhist sense. This is because there is no unified sensibility, nor can there be when the senses lie because of the filtering and distortions of belief and expectation, fear and desire.
In the ancient Hindu texts—the Vedas and the Upanishads, we find this illusory state of mind referred to as Maya. The Real is veiled by the Unreal. In one of these scriptures it says ‘The immortal is veiled by the real.—Name and form are real, and by them the Spirit is veiled.’
We live in illusion when we are unaware and have no sense or feeling for our life-space and for sentient beings around us that are alive and sustain us all. Ultimate Reality, the Absolute, is the ground of being and source of an emergent cosmos. The primal dualism of this cosmogenesis is referred to as yin and yang in Taoism. The anima and animus are the primordial, generative elements of the First Cause.
For we humans I see these times as being Apocalyptic, a term that means to tear the veil—the veil of Maya that separates us from the fundamental nature of reality so that we then live disconnected from the Absolute. When we act with no sensibility or empathy and compassion for other sentient beings, we are caught in the realm of Maya. There the Golden Rule becomes the rule of gold.
It would seem from the above letters that our animal companions are tearing at that veil that they must see so clearly when they are gone as well as when they were alive, and were even treated with indifference and contempt—because they do come back to life and visit us. They show us that we are indeed part of one stupendous whole; that love connects all in the miracle and deep mystery of conscious life; of the will to be, and of matter and spirit, and of Light itself that reflects the primal dualistic nature of manifest reality as both wave and particle.
I thank Y.H. of Arlington VA, who was visited by her deceased and most beloved cat Stormie for several days, not in apparition but in familiar sounds (drinking, coming through the cat door, and shredding toilet paper), for the following apt quote:
“He prayeth well who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.
He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small
For the dear God that loveth us
He made and loveth all.”
—from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
How different the world would be if we all embraced every living being with the same respect and devotion that we see between so many people and their animal companions. This kind of relationship, as these letters affirm, can endure ‘beyond this mortal coil’, to give us a glimpse of the illimitable, universal and universalizing power of love that ‘passeth all understanding’. The kind of closeness shared in life with another living being that can move that being to return after death to comfort and reassure the surviving loved one/s, is clear evidence of this power at work. Chief Black Elk called this the ‘Power of the World’, and prayed that all people would respect this Power by living in a ‘sacred way’, meaning to live in harmony with nature and have reverential respect for all life.
When we treat other living beings,— as many people do their animal companions,—with respect and love, they will show us devotion in return, or flourish and benefit us in countless ways. This spiritual aspect of affection has profound implications when it comes to our physical health and emotional well-being. This is why animals can be our healers and teachers, as well as our best friends.
Our animal companions are showing us that the realm of the spirit is real. This may not be acceptable to many for religious, political, or other intellectual reasons, and for others it borders on the realm of the demonic and the possessed. But fear and rationalism aside, are not our imaginations and or dreams part of this non-material realm? Then why deny its existence?
The doubting Thomas and the healthy skeptic alike should look into the eyes of the animals in the local shelter, and then consider what most of these animals are waiting for. It’s not food or to be set free. It’s the immaterial of human affection that they seek and which ignites their devotion as our spirits connect. The bond between people and their dogs and cats is as much a spiritual connection as it is an emotional one. The more we attend to the spirit, and accept that the spiritual realm is real, then indeed we will bring Heaven down to where Earth abides.