“I know most people don’t believe animals have spirits but I believe they do,” says Chloe Neuman (not her real name). “After all, anything that can feel love and pain like we do must have a soul.” Chloe speaks from firsthand experience—her beloved dog, Lucy, hasn’t let death take her from her mistress’s side.
One cold and damp January night, Chloe was driving along a stretch of highway outside Knoxville, Tennessee. She spotted a small dog, old and obviously pregnant, snuffling her way across the road, heedless of the speeding cars around her.
“Somehow, she made it to the other side of the highway alive,” Chloe recalls. “I pulled over and coaxed her to my car with a can of cat food I had on hand.” The shy, gentle beagle had no teeth and seemed lethargic from lack of food. Chloe immediately turned the car around and headed straight for the veterinary hospital.
The vet estimated the dog’s age at around 12 years, very old to be carrying a litter. Numerous previous pregnancies had left her belly scarred and covered with cysts, and she had lost her teeth, the vet guessed, by trying to chew her way out of the pen. The vet had to surgically remove the puppies, which were already dead. He told Chloe that an old dog that had suffered this much would likely die within two or three months.
“Well, that was four years ago,” says Chloe, “and over those four years, Lucy was my best friend.” Chloe and her mother lavished the dog with love and attention, and Lucy soon became lively and affectionate. She showed none of the behavior problems you might expect in a previously mistreated animal. On the contrary, says Chloe, “Lucy had an aura about her that made people and other animals gravitate to her. It was strange, but when I felt sick or depressed, I could hold her and I would feel better. No other pet had this effect on me.”
Eventually, though, old age caught up to the spunky little beagle. “Lucy stopped eating a few a weeks ago. My mother and I took her to the vet, and we found she had kidney failure,” Chloe recalls. “Nothing could be done for her.” Chloe and her mother took Lucy home and tried to make her as comfortable as possible. But Lucy went downhill quickly, forcing Chloe to make a dreaded decision: to have her beloved dog put to sleep. Coming home from that sad appointment, Chloe was so distraught she had to take a mild sleeping pill in order to get even a few hours of rest.
At some point in the night, despite the effect of the sedative, Chloe woke up to a familiar sound. “I may have been groggy, but I know what I heard,” she says. “There was a loud snoring sound coming from the den, where Lucy’s big pillow lay.” When she got up to investigate, the pillow was empty.
When she told the story over breakfast the next morning, her mother said that she too had heard Lucy snoring. “Since then, we hear it all the time,” says Chloe. “Even four weeks later she’s still snoring.”
Chloe and her mother left Lucy’s favorite pillow where it had always been until one night, when curiosity got the better of them. They moved the big cushion into a storage closet, just to see what would happen. They didn’t hear any snoring that night, Chloe reports, but “the next day, when we woke up, the pillow was back and crushed in as though something had been lying on it.
“It must have been Lucy,” she says. “She came home, and is still here in spirit. We’ll leave that pillow there for her until she decides to move on.” In the meantime, at night, Chloe can still hear the contented snores of her best friend, the gentle old dog she rescued on that cold January night.Read more animal tales from the beyond in Darren Zenko’s Ghost Stories of Pets and Animals, available at local booksellers.