By Dr. Michael W. Fox
These are some of many accounts sent to me by cat and dog owners 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.
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 of 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. of 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. of Fort Worth, TX
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. of 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 to this---but we knew even after she was gone that she still did this because we could hear her nails clicking on the steps 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 oldest 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.DuV., 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
Hello 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
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,
About 7 years ago I had to have my beloved dog Bingo euthanized. He was 16 and had lived a long and happy life. When he was alive he was not allowed on the couch at the same time as my 2 year-old granddaughter because he was exhibiting some erratic behavior. If he was already on the couch, she was not allowed, and vice versa.
About a month after he was gone, she was sitting on the couch alone and started patting the seat next to her and repeating, “It's okay, you can sit here now.” My daughter and I questioned to whom was she speaking. She said “Bingo”, and further described him as “your white dog”. She seemed puzzled that we asked. Then we asked her if she could see him, and she said she could and wondered why we could not.
The story now moves forward about 7 years. My granddaughter is now 9 and she has a baby sister, who is nearly 3. The new granddaughter has never seen Bingo of course. One day I put a stainless steel bowl, which had been one that Bingo often drank out of when he was on the porch, out on the porch for my daughter's dog to drink out of while she was visiting. The nearly 3-year old picked up the bowl that I had forgotten to take in, a few weeks later, and said it was Bingo's bowl. I told her I had put it outside for their dog Abby, but she insisted that she had seen Bingo drinking from it.
I must say I have often felt Bingo's spirit (I won't say 'soul' because I am a good Catholic and don't believe animals have 'souls') is still around. It is a comforting feeling.
P.W., Hobe Sound, FL
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 Lois, 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.
Sincerely, 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
EXPLAINING THESE PHENOMENA
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 say 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.
Siddartha Guatama (a devout Hindu, who was later named the Buddha), and his followers thought that human and other animals 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 forthcoming 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.
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 below, and 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 sprit---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 suffers from autism, 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, that has lead in medicine, for example, to 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 schizophrenic and the egotistic to the rationalistic (or abstractionistic) and the narcissistic, point to illusory states of consciousness, or wrong mindfullness 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 ever 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 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.