“The dog has seldom been successful in pulling man up to its level of sagacity, but man has frequently dragged the dog down to his” – James Thurber
John Charles Thompson was the distinguished Surveyor-General for the state of Wyoming, a popular and well-respected figure in his hometown of Cheyenne, regarded as “absolutely trustworthy” (Flammarion, 1921, p74). Now part of being a surveyor is to get out there in the field and survey stuff, which frequently took him away from both his family, and his beloved collie (although some say spaniel), Jim. And while General Thompson was a man of some stature in the community, Jim was a straight up celebrity in Cheyenne.
His affectionate nature surpassed even that of his kind. He had a wide celebrity in the city as the “laughing dog,” due to the fact that he manifested recognition of acquaintances and love for his friends by a joyful laugh, as distinctively such as that of any human being (Tuckett, 1911, p100-101).
I’ve always maintained that dogs are better than people – more loyal, consumed eternally with a positive attitude, and far less insufferably self-conscious than human beings. Thus, it would be no surprise that a faithful hound wouldn’t think twice about astral projection in order to say a last goodbye to his best friend. Dogs don’t care if you call them a New Age freakazoid. They’re all about the relationships and getting stuff done, even if it means catching their own tail. They know how to apply themselves to a goal. And this is exactly what Jim, the good-natured Collie, decided to do in his final moments. General Thompson himself related the strange circumstances.
One evening in the fall of 1905, about 7.30 P.M., I was walking with a friend on Seventeenth Street in Denver, Colorado. As we approached the entrance to the First National Bank, we observed a dog lying in the middle of the pavement, and on coming up to him I was amazed at his perfect likeness to Jim in Cheyenne. The identity was greatly fortified by his loving recognition of me, and the peculiar laugh of Jim’s accompanying it. I said to my friend that nothing but the 105 miles between Denver and Cheyenne would keep me from making oath to the dog being Jim, whose peculiarities I explained to him (Wilson, 1908, p38-39).
General Thompson was a practical guy, so he assumed that the mortally wounded hound could not possibly be his beloved Jim, but as a devout dog lover, he tried to ease the critters passage into the great dog park in the sky, there clearly being little else he could do. It’s when the dog disappeared into thin air, that Thompson suspected the Fortean was afoot.
The dog, astral or ghost, was apparently badly hurt. He could not rise. After petting him and giving him a kind adieu, we crossed over Stout Street, and stopped to look at him again. He had vanished. The next morning’s mail brought a letter from my wife saying that Jim had been accidentally killed the evening before at 7:30 p.m. I shall always believe it was Jim’s ghost I saw (SPR, 1907, p225-226).
Dogs, as a rule, are not limited by concepts such as “impossibility”. They just go about their business, dead or alive, and if that business involves projecting one’s astral dog form across time and space, well, a little gumption and a solid helping of kibble solves any problem. Ever see a dog laying in the sun? If that’s not deep meditation, I don’t know what is. Maybe we should pay a little more attention to ghost dogs, for as Orhan Pamuk once said, “Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.”
Flammarion, Camille. “Do Animals Have Souls?”. Hearst’s International v40. New York, N.Y.: International Publications, Inc., 1921.
SPR. “The Phantom of a Dying Dog”. The Annals of Psychical Science v6. London: Office of the Annals, 1907.
Tuckett, Ivor Lloyd. The Evidence for the Supernatural: A Critical Study Made With “uncommon Sense”. London: K. Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1911.
Willson, Beckles, 1869-1942. Occultism and Common-sense. London: T.W. Laurie, 1908.