Canine ghosts that come back to haunt


A few months ago, Lakku Lal who resided in a village near Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh began barking. Lakku Lal was not a dog but a human being. About a year earlier, he’d beaten to death a village dog named Kalu. Why? Because the dog always barked and snapped at him and others who were in an inebriated state. Within a week of killing Kalu, Lakku Lal began barking and snapping at everybody who was in a drunken state, just like Kalu.  Villagers were shocked and wondered whether Lakku had contracted rabies but soon realised that he had been possessed by Kalu’s spirit.


A powerful bhagat was contacted and he succeeded in freeing Lakku from Kalu’s hold.  However, a few months later, Lakku began barking again and once again the bhagat was summoned. Villagers began worrying about repeats of such ghost dog hauntings. Their fears proved to be correct. Last week, Lakku died, beaten to death by a drunken villager at whom he was barking furiously, the same way he had beaten poor Kalu to death.  Lakku’s father works in Delhi as a security guard, but he refused to go home.  “Justice has been done”, he explained to me. “Kalu’s spirit will be at peace. My son killed the dog and the dog’s spirit ensured that Lakku was killed. The matter has ended.”

Supernatural dogs have enjoyed the privilege of attracting special attention through the ages from mythical times right down to the present day Harry Potter universe. In fact, the three-headed Cerberus, the ghost dog of Greek mythology who guarded  the underworld, allowing spirits to enter but never leave, has featured in innumerable books and movies. And according to Wikipedia, “On Dartmoor, the notorious squire Richard Cabell was said to have been a huntsman who sold his soul to the Devil. When he died in 1677, black hounds are said to have appeared around his burial chamber. The ghostly huntsman is said to ride with black dogs; this tale inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write his well-known story ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’… where a large dog-like creature haunts a family estate. Sherlock Holmes is brought in to determine if the dog is in fact real or supernatural.” That dog remains one of the most famous ghostly dogs in fiction.  There have been many other real life ghost dogs as well.

In the United States , tourist literature on Poogan’s Porch—an 1888 structure in Charleston, South Carolina, converted into a restaurant—advises one to keep an eye out for a ghostly dog and other human ghosts.  It is said that when 72 Queen Street where Poogan’s Porch now stands was sold, the previous owners callously left behind their dog named Poogan on the porch.The new owners decided to keep Poogan.

Another version has it that Poogan was a neighbourhood stray who wandered from porch to porch looking for something to eat. As the house at 72 Queen Street was being converted, Poogan began showing up on the porch everyday, looking for scraps from some workman’s lunch. When it was decided to open a restaurant, it was also decided it would be named after Poogan. Not only that, for years Poogan served “in the capacity of official greeter at the restaurant, a position he held until his death in 1979.”

Supernatural dogs have enjoyed the privilege of attracting special attention through the ages from mythical times  to the present day. 

But Poogan lived on, and over the years many people dining at Poogan’s Porch have reported glimpsing a ghostly dog. Some guests have even claimed to have felt  Poogan’ ghost sniffing around their feet, as if searching for table scraps. But not all ghost dogs are as lovingly remembered as Poogan or as friendly. In Valle Crucis,  North Carolina, it is said there is a demon ghost dog that springs out of the cemetery, chases one down and even goes after cars. At the Holly Hotel, in Holly, Michigan, an apparition of Leona, a rat terrier is said to run up and down the halls and bark.

In 1997, when Coaxdon Hall near Axminster in Britain was put up for sale its owners did not hesitate to tell prospective buyers about its other world inhabitants, which included a ghostly tall man with a yellow dog who had been seen walking in the house.  In December 2016, the UK Sun carried an intriguing story headlined “GHOUL-DEN RETRIEVER” and sub headings : “Pet lover snaps eerie photo of GHOST DOG lurking in her living room”.  ‘Paranormal pooch “stares back at the camera” in creepy photo’. In the photo, a red ring circles a ghoulish canine that appears to be staring back at the camera.

According to the story, “The ghost dog appeared in a photo alongside Tiegan’s dog Lucky. Tiegan from Livingston, West Lothian has also said the past owners of the house had their dog put down at home…Tiegan posted her image on Twitter with the caption: ‘I took this pic earlier. Right, am I being daft or is that a ghost of a dog in the circle?’… At that time, her tweet had already got nearly 1,500 retweets and over 4,500 likes…Tiegan later revealed that she has had other run-ins with the canine spirit.”

In 2016, researchers from the Max Planck Institute discovered a possible supernatural or paranormal “sixth sense” in dogs. Scientists found that while humans are incapable of magneto reception, that is, the ability to sense magnetic fields, dogs and some other animals can detect magnetic fields. They can do so through the existence of cryptochromes, a type of light-sensitive molecule that allows them to sense magnetic fields. Obviously, although the scientific evidence available so far of animals being able to detect supernatural activity is inconclusive, the indicators from ongoing research are very positive.

Certainly, a large body of anecdotal evidence suggests that dogs and other animals can in fact not only see and sense ghosts, they can also haunt people and places. Apart from ghost dogs in movies, TV serials and photos, people have witnessed ghost dogs going on ghost walks, felt a spooky but friendly paw on their shoulder, felt the spirits of dogs long dead slurping invisible food from an invisible bowl, and seen ghost dogs resting peacefully in their old favourite spots. Significantly, these phantom dog sightings have been reported from all over the world.

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