Animal Ghosts and Evil Portents
If ghosts are caused by strong emotions and violent acts, it should come as no surprise that some animals seem to leave behind ghosts as well. While some people are lucky enough to feel a deceased pet’s paws in the hallway in the night, other people aren’t as lucky. The legacy that animal ghosts leav behind is distinctly inhuman, and sometimes, it can be far more terrifying than their human counterparts.
The Demon Cat of Washington DC
Some Irish families have a banshee that howls when a family member is about to die. The federal buildings of Washington DC have a black cat. The story goes that when the White House was rebuilt after a Canadian attack, a black cat was brought in to take care of the rats. The cat lives a long and healthy life, and not even death could stop it from doing its job. Federal employees report seeing a cat dash in and out of empty rooms or appearing where no cat could be. The cat is known for having unnatural glowing eyes and for appearing before disasters like the JFK assassination and the stock market crash that started the Great Depression.
The Black Dog of the UK
Throughout the United Kingdom, you will find tales of black dogs. JK Rowling borrowed the story of the black dog called the Grim for her Harry Potter novels, but these dogs have a far older history. These enormous dogs, usually black and usually vicious, have been known to chase people up and down deserted roads. There are records of these dogs going back to premodern times, when they were known as the hounds of Cernunnos. Today, a ghostly black dog may be called a grim, a gaunt, a gwyllgi, or a shug monkey, but everyone knows that to see one means illness or death.
The Tigers of the Colosseum
The Romans were noted for the cruelty and viciousness of their games. It was common fare to have professional gladiators fight each other, foreign prisoners and large crowds, but one great draw was to have men fighting beasts. If it looked large and vicious, an animal would be thrown in the pit to fight a man armed only with a sword and a net. As may be presumed, many animals died in the pit, but it seems to be the tigers and lions who are the most angry about their deaths. According to many tourists, their ghostly roars can still be heard throughout the stadium.
The Laughing Ape of Carew Castle
Carew Castle is located in Wales, and it has been a site of near continuous habitation for about 2000 years. It only makes sense that during that time it would pick up a few ghosts, but perhaps the creepiest ghost is that of a Barbary ape belonging to Sir Roland Rhys. Rhys was a terrible man, a known pirate and cruel bully. He would mock his guests, and he would encourage his pet ape, known as Satan, to laugh as well. According to local legend, Satan developed a laugh that was almost humanlike. One night, when Rhys’s daughter attempted to run off with a merchang, Rhys called on his ape to attack the unwelcome suitor. The ape nearly killed the suitor, who got away, but servants were later wakened that night by the animal laughing. They rushed to Rhys’ room to find that his throat had been torn out and that his ape was dead in the fireplace, burning fiercely. Sometimes, the halls of Carew Castle still echo with the ape’s laugh.