Sightings of ghosts have been reported throughout history and throughout the world, and more than 10 per cent of Americans say they have actually seen a ghost. In most cases these ghosts are images of human beings not really present. In some cases, though, the images are of animals rather than of humans. These animal ghosts often appear repeatedly at the same place, sometimes for years, with the ghost seemingly oblivious to its surroundings and typically performing the same actions over and over regardless of who is watching.
For example, the ghost of a chicken is said to haunt a part of London, England, called Pond Square. According to one story of why the haunting occurs, this was the site of the chicken’s death, at the hands of philosopher Lord Francis Bacon in 1626. Conducting an experiment to see whether snow acted as a preservative, Bacon bought a chicken; had it killed, plucked, and gutted; and then started stuffing it with snow in Pond Square. While doing this, Bacon collapsed, and a few days later he died. But instead of his own spirit haunting the spot, the featherless chicken has repeatedly been seen there, flapping and flopping about in circles. On one occasion in 1969, a man who saw the bird thought that it was a living chicken that had been tortured by a group of teenagers, but when he stopped to rescue it, the chicken disappeared.
There are also many examples of ghost horses being seen on battlefields where they died, either running free or being ridden by ghost soldiers. More commonly, however, an animal ghost appears to represent a deceased family pet, haunting a place or a person it knew in life. One such case occurred at the Ballechin House in Pertshire, Scotland.
In 1876, after fourteen dogs were killed there, the odour of dogs would appear at odd times and places in the house, for no apparent reason, and people in various rooms would suddenly feel themselves pushed or jostled by what they sensed was one or more dogs, though no dog was there. Sometimes the house was filled with the sounds of unseen dogs as well, and on several occasions a mysterious black spaniel would appear and disappear. Some people thought it might be the ghost of a man named Major Steuart, who always said he wanted to come back to life as a dog.
The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning