Savage, Dr Minot Judson - Psychics : facts and theories – 08 The skye terrier terrified by the three ghosts seen by his mistress
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Psychics : facts and theories – M J Savage
I have read, of course, a good many stories telling of the apparent seeing of " spirit " forms on the part of animals. One such, and a perfectly authentic one, I have in my collection. The friend who gave it me I will call Miss Z. I have known her for seventeen years, and feel as sure of the truth of her narrative as though I had been in her place. Without any further preface, I will tell her brief story.
In the spring of 1885, on a certain evening, she was alone in the house. All the family, even to the servants, had gone out. It was about eight o'clock, but several gas jets were burning, so that the room was light throughout. It was in the parlor, a long room running the whole length of the house. Near the back of the parlor stood the piano. Miss Z. was sitting at the piano, practicing a difficult musical exercise, playing it over and over, and naturally with her mind intent on this alone.
She had as her only companion a little skye terrier, a great pet, and which, never having been whipped, was apparently afraid of nothing in all the world. He was comfortably placed in an easy-chair behind the piano-stool.
Such, then, was the situation when Miss Z. was startled by hearing a sudden growl from the terrier, as if giving an alarm of danger.
She looked up suddenly to see what the matter was, when, at the farther end of the room, the front of the parlor, there appeared to be a sort of mist stretching itself from the door half-way across the room. As she watched it, this mist, which was gray, seemed to shape itself into three forms. The heads and shoulders were quite clearly outlined and distinct, though they appeared to have loose wrappings about them.
From the height and general slope of the shoulders of one, she thought she recognized the figure of a favorite aunt who had died a few years before. The middle figure of the three was much shorter, and made her think of her grandmother, who had been dead for a good many years. The third she did not recognize at all. The faces she did not see distinctly enough so as to feel in any way sure about them.
The dog, always before very brave, now seemed overcome with terror. He growled fiercely several times, and then jumped trembling: from his chair, and hid himself under a large sofa, utterly refusing to be coaxed out.
His mistress had never known him to show fear before on any occasion whatever.
Miss Z. now watched the figures, while they grew more and more indistinct, and at last seemed to fade through the closed door into the front hall. When they had disappeared, she gave her attention to the frightened terrier. He would not leave his hiding-place, and she was obliged to move the sofa and carefully lift the trembling little creature in her arms.
Now, the only remarkable thing about this is, of course, the attitude and action of the dog. The "spirits " did not seem to have come for anything. They said nothing, and did nothing of any importance. But — and this is where the problem comes in — what did the dog see? If his mistress had seen the figures first and had shown any fear, it might reasonably be said that her fear was contagious, and that the dog was frightened because she was. But the dog was the first discoverer; the discoverer — of what? If there had been nothing there to see, the dog would have seen nothing. Are dogs subject to hallucinations ?
Even if they are, and though it were a subjective vision on the dog's part, how does it happen that Miss Z. also sees it? Would she mistake a dog's subjective vision for the figure of her aunt ?
Turn it about as you will, it is a curious experience, and one worth the reader's finding an explanation for, if he can.