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Observations placeholder

Wallace, Alfred Russel - Study of Apparitions – Six cases where dogs and horses could perceive with humans the manifestations of haunting



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Six cases, extracted from an article in Alfred Russel Wallace’s, Study of Apparitions, in the Annals of Psychic Sciences, 1891, pages 351-352.

1  John Wesley

In his account of the phenomena that took place at the Cure of Epworth, the eminent John Wesley, founder of the Methodist sect, after describing strange noises similar to those that would be made by iron and glass objects thrown to the floor, adds:

Shortly afterwards, our big dog Masheff ran to take refuge between Mr. and Mrs. Wesley. As long as the noises continued, he barked and jumped and breathed the air from one side to the other, often before anyone in the room heard anything. But after two or three days, he was trembling and crawling away before the sound started. The family knew at this sign what was going to happen, and it was never missing...

2 The phenomena of the Arensburg cemetery on the island of Oesel

The coffins were returned to closed vaults, duly recorded by an official commission, the horses of the people who came to visit the cemetery were often so scared and excited that they were covered in sweat. Sometimes they threw themselves to the ground and ran away immediately, many died after a day or two. In this case, as in so many others, although the Commission conducted a very severe investigation, it did not discover any natural causes. - According to R. D. Owen, Footfalls on the Boundary of another World, p. 186.

3 In the terrible case of a haunted house told to Mr. R.-D. Owen by Mrs. S.-C. Hall. - who herself witnessed the main facts, - we see that the haunted man could not keep a dog for long, it was not possible to keep him in the room, either during the day or at night. The one that he had when Mrs. S. -C. Hall met him, when the phenomena began, and soon after,  fled and was lost. Footfalls..., p. 326.

4 The case reported by Mr. Hodgson in the Arena, in September 1889

 the lady in white appeared to the author's brother, we read that:

On the third night, he saw the dog crawling and staring at it, and then acting as if he was being pursued all around the room. My brother saw nothing, but heard a kind of whistle, and the poor dog screamed, then tried to hide, and never wanted to go into that room again.

5 The story about a haunted house written by a well-known Anglican Church clergyman

who lived in this house for twelve months, the very different behaviour of dogs in the presence of real or strange phantasmal effects must be considered. When a robbery attempt was made at the rectory, the dogs immediately sounded the alarm, and the clergyman stood up at their fierce barking. On the contrary, during the mysterious noises, although they were much louder and more disturbing, they did not bark at all. They were found lurking in a corner, in a state of pitiful fright. They were more agitated than anyone else and, if they hadn't been locked down, they would have run to the door of our bedroom and huddled there crawling and moaning until we let them into it. - Proceedings of the S.P.R., Vol. II, p. 151.

6 The haunted house in Hammersmith, Proceedings of the S.P.R., Vol. III, pp. 115-116,

noises of all kinds were heard, including the echo of footsteps and the sound of sobs and sighs, doors were seen opening without any apparent cause, where, finally, a woman's ghost appeared that was successively seen by three adults and a six-year-old girl, the house dog was perceiving these phenomena in his own specific way.

Soon - Mrs. R. writes - the old noises started again in our small library. They were sounds of falling objects, windows that were shaking violently, powerful shaking sounds echoing throughout the house. Finally, similarly, the window of my room began to shake loudly. In the meantime, the dog was howling all the time and the noise of the blows and falls increased in intensity... I left my room and took refuge in Helen's room; I spent the rest of the night there. The next morning, the dog clearly demonstrated that the view of the haunted room still frightened him. I called him back to let him in with me, but he squatted on the floor, putting his tail between his legs. We could see that he was afraid to enter... I was alone at home with Helen and the maid.


The source of the experience

Wallace, Alfred Russell

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