Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Animal Hauntings and Your Pet's Afterlife

The Master of Horror Fiction    

In 1989 the movie Pet Sematary made its debut in theatres thoughout the country. Stephen King, its author, had been publishing books since 1973 when he introduced Carrie to the publishing world. This is the first publication that the horror writer had addressed the issue of animals and what happens to their spirits when they die.

Those of us old enough remember the storyline, but, in case you've forgotten or do not know, here it is. The Louis Creed family moves into a small town in Maine. Their neighbor, whom they've befriended, introduces them to the isolated pet cemetery behind the Creeds' new home. Beyond the pet cemetery is an old Indian Micmac burial ground.

A cat, named Church, is killed by a truck in front of their house and they bury him in the Indian grounds. Church comes back to their house that night "an evil shell of himself, attacking Louis and smelling of death." ( Soon thereafter, Louis' son, Gage, is killed by a truck and he too is buried in Micmac. Gage comes back as well and kills his mother and the neighbor.

Real Elements of a Haunting

Although Stephen King's story most likely originated from his many nightmares that inspired his books, some of the elements of a haunting hold true. When an animal dies, its spirit can still haunt the property in which it resided in life.

Church came back as a demon spawn smelling of rotting flesh, which is also a valid aspect of a demon presence. In Steven LaChance's Union House in Missouri (see my Union Extreme Hauntings posts), the smell of decaying flesh existed in parts of the house. Really powerful demons exude this stench and the activity in the Union house absolutely confirms this fact.

Church is, of course, fiction and an extreme case of an animal haunting. In my research I have been unable to find any real experiences that even come close to this event. Most animal hauntings tend to be residual, left over imprints from when the animal was once alive. 

Three such hauntings have taken place. One is in the infamous Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, Missouri. Another continuously happens in the Hand Hotel in Fairplay. Colorado. I have my own story of a cat who returned to our house after she died. Her name is Puddles - and we still feel her presence today.


The Lemp Mansion

The story of the Lemp mansion in St. Louis is one that is well known throughout the paranormal world. Nearly all of the smallest and biggest investigators, including Ghost Hunters and the trio from Ghost Adventures, have visited this site with amazing results.

The Lemps were beer brewmasters who established an empire that left them wealthy beyond their own years. Their success gave them all the money and power that they could ever dream up, however, for many of the Lemps, their happiness was elusive.

From 1904 - 1949, three of the Lemp men and Edwin III's wife, Elsa, committed suicide in the mansion. Their spirits have either been seen or are believed to be roaming the hallways even to this day. The last suicide, committed by Charles Lemp, is the one associated with this particular animal haunting.

There are conflicting stories of what happened before Charles put a .38 caliber bullet in his skull. There are accounts that say he shot his dog before he shot himself. Other accounts say this never happened. The story that serves as the basis for an animal haunting is as follows:

                  "While living in the mansion over the years [Charles] developed an obsessive/compulsive disorder. One day, a few years after [his Down Syndrome nephew] in the attic died, Charles shot his dog in the basement, though the dog's body was found halfway up the back stairway, which goes up to the third floor. Charles then shot himself in his second floor room." (

Guests who have stayed at the Lemp Mansion, which is now a bed and breakfast, have claimed that they have had encounters with the "ghost dog." Some have seen its apparition in the upstairs room and others have actually felt the dog brush them as it walked by.

It is extremely difficult to find these accounts either in books or online. Clearly animal hauntings are either not common or they do not receive the attention they deserve. The Lemp book I used for researching this article doesn't even mention the dog. Truly a mystery.

The Hand Hotel

"The Hand Hotel in Fairplay, Colorado has a fair amount of paranormal activity (according to Kym and Mark Todd, authors and paranormal investigators who wrote this section), with reports of full-body apparitions manifesting on the second-floor hallway, faces appearing on at least one guestroom mirror, and child-size imprints on freshly made beds. And housekeeping staff often find messed-up beds after they've prepared and locked rooms.

[Kym and Mark's] favorite paranormal sighting at the Hand, however, concerns its 'ghost dog,' which roams the entire premises. Rooms Two and Eleven have many reports of guests inquiring about who's keeping a dog at the hotel - but it's not there for a one-time visit!

On one occasion, a town constable emerged from the downstairs bathroom with pants still around his knees, complaining about a dog that had chased him out. No one could find a dog in the facilities afterwards.

The ghost dog also has a reputation for appearing in various rooms and tugging bed covers off guests during the night, sometimes barking, sometimes growling.

Another account occurred in the basement which, at the time, was the site for a children's Halloween party. Two tykes came upstairs, reporting they enjoyed playing with the dog in the basement. Former hotel owner Pat Pocius said she could see the imprints on their little hands that night, looking like a puppy had playfully nipped them."

Thank you so much, Kym and Mark Todd, for these wonderful stories and a great contribution to this article!

     -excerpt from working title: WILD WEST GHOSTS, An Amateur Ghosthunter Guide to Haunted Hotels in Southwest Colorado - due out in late spring 2015.

Puddles Still Visits Our Bedroom

My wife's cat, named Puddles, had been a household friend for 14 years. Everyone in the family loved her and all of the kids grew up knowing the benefits of a feline companion. And Puddles loved everyone back with her loud purrs and prancing meow she would dance either when she was happy or perhaps when her food dish was empty.

courtesy Flickr
Sadly enough, Puddles acquired some sort of internal organ deterioration as her bowels began to shut down as she got closer to the end of her life. She eventually became known for her loud, wet sharts (as we called them, those wet nasty farts that were mostly loose poop) she would spew into her litter box, many times spraying it upon the wall in the corner. Her illness got so bad she had to be put down because she was suffering miserable pain and there wasn't a remedy.

Puddles did come back to visit us quite often after her death. There were quite a few times when we would hear "phantom sharting" in the corner of our room while reading in bed and we, at first, thought we were imagining the sounds.
Her meows were heard periodically throughout the house and the tapping patter of her footsteps could be heard walking down the granite floor hallway.

Our initial theories were that this was simply a residual haunting. However, something happened that made me question that perhaps she actually may have returned as an intelligent haunting, as so many humans do.

One evening, I was lying in our bed and I actually felt something jump onto the mattress. As I looked to the spot of impact, I noticed a few imprints in the quilt that were deeply beveled as though something was standing on the bed. I felt the pressure on my calves and then I felt something plop down, making one large imprint. This was Puddles jumping onto our bed, as she had done so many times in life, and laying down at my feet. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it!

Final Thoughts

Animal hauntings many times are left to the crafty minds of such writers like Stephen King. When a horror writer tackles this phenomenon it usually is taken to the extreme with the presence of some sort of demon spawn. And not to say that demons possessing animals isn't possible, because it is. However, the reality is that most animal hauntings aren't that aggressive.

In the Lemp Mansion, Charles' dog is more of an innocent presence who wanders the rooms in curiosity. Most of the time he appear to guests as an apparition and every now and then may inadvertently brush against someone.

In the Hand Hotel, that dog is quite unique. It seems like he or she is more of a puppy who is stuck in the spirit realm and doesn't realize it. The puppy likes to pull of bed covers, playfully nip the hands of children, and even chase a constable off the crapper. The puppy barks and growls as well. He or she does everything that an animal would do in real life. I would certainly assert that in this case the Hand Hotel clearly has an intelligent haunting on its property.

Puddles was a wonderful example for me an a paranormal investigator and for my children as well. They now know that when an animal, or human for that matter, passes on through death that they don't actually go away for good. There is a sort of comfort for them in knowing that Puddles is still with us even in the afterlife. It makes death look less scary for them.

Works Cited


  1. Tim, thanks for allowing us to contribute to this article. Great idea for a topic! Your experience with Puddles is really interesting.

    We've both had our own personal paranormal animal experiences -- often mere fleeting moments when we thought we saw a recently dead pet out of the corner of the eye. But these could be tricks of the mind, a momentary expectation filled in by the brain. But your account of Puddles is extraordinary, esp the bed episode.

    We've always believed that, if there's any sort of afterlife, our animals would be part of it just as well as people. The accounts in this article suggest that intelligent consciousness can can persist and manifest in any animal form -- be that human or otherwise.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. I have always believed that animals have the same abilities as we do in the afterlife. It is nice to have the evidence to support this belief. Thank you for the comment!

  2. I know for a fact they do visit us after death. I have heard and seen them. Especially Muffin, my last cat the died cries/talks to me when I can't see her. It can get a bit distressing when I hear her, she also walks along my body when I am in bed sometimes.

    1. I'm sorry to her that Muffin's return is distressing to you. She clearly loves you as she is trying to be close to you. If you're worried about her, perhaps a prayer for her soul's release from this plane will help her cross over. Not sure what Muffin's situation was or that you believe in prayer. Just a suggestion. Thank you for the comment. More affirmation! :)

  3. Our first dog (long ago deceased) has popped in a couple of times, ruffling the covers at the end of the bed.

    1. That is an interesting point, Dean. It seems that the amount of time since death isn't necessarily finite, as it is so with humans. Civil War soldiers still haunt cemeteries. Your first dog seems to correspond with that longevity. Thank you so much for your comment!

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