Can Dogs Reincarnate?
So many people seemed to enjoy “The Cat Came Back” that I decided to share this experience of reincarnation I observed with the full brother of my own dog.
Patches bounded into the room, dropped a yellow rubber squeaky at my feet and backed away, eyes shining, his tight little body wriggling in anticipation. When I ignored the toy, he edged back a couple more feet, front paws down, rump in the air, ready to spring should I change my mind. When I still ignored the toy, he drooped momentarily, then brightened. Surely, the fault lay in the toy rather than the concept. He dashed away to find another, more enticing squeaky that would guarantee my willing participation.
He was right. No one could resist such optimism, as he quivered with anticipation. I picked up the squeaky and threw it across the room in approved throw-and-fetch fashion. Patches wheeled after it as if he were chasing a particularly fractious lamb, grabbed the toy before it hit the floor and was back at my feet in micro-seconds, eyes alight with love of the game. Dropping the squeaky at my feet, he backed away and waited for me to throw it again. His enthusiasm never wavered through endless repetition of the squeaky throw.
Patches was the 14-year-old dog of my roommate, Rosemarie. A pom-border collie cross, he was an outstanding personality with a playful spirit and decided opinions. The bond between Rosemarie and him was extraordinarily strong. They had been together for 14 years and were more like old friends than dog and mistress.
The habits and quirks Patches had acquired over his 14-year lifespan clearly distinguished him from any other dog I knew, as witness this short list:
- He loved playing with soft rubber dog toys that squeaked (aptly christened squeakies by Rosemarie).
- He hated being disturbed after he had gone to bed for the night. If you said softly, “Goodnight, Patches,” you would only have to wait a few seconds for his low growl of displeasure.
- Getting Christmas presents was his special favorite. Rosemarie would wrap the presents and pile them under the tree. After she showed him which pile was his, she would tell him firmly that he couldn’t open them until Christmas. He understood and would lie under the tree with his nose pressing against his particular pile of packages. His little body trembled with excitement, but he refrained from opening them. On Christmas Eve, Rosemarie would tell him, “Okay, Patches, just one present,” and he would nip under the tree and pick out one present, tearing the wrapping off with his teeth in delight. Once he freed the present, usually a squeaky or a doggy treat, he would toss it up in the air triumphantly. On Christmas Day, Rosemarie would let him open all his presents while we opened ours. He would dart in under the tree and grab one from his pile, tear off the wrapping, nose it briefly, then dash back again for the next one, until all his presents were opened.
- His biggest sorrow in life was the fact that he was slightly too short to put his paws on the back door window, which was set in the upper half of the door frame. Consequently, he had to jump countless times in order to see out this window, which was the only place he could view the backyard from inside the house. You could tell from the way he stalked, stiff-legged and glaring, away from the door after one such fruitless exercise that he hated this state of affairs.
All the time I lived in the house, Patches had a great life. He was never sick, never indisposed, always up and ready to play. One day, however, we noticed he wasn’t eating. We took him to the vet, who diagnosed throat cancer. The disease spread rapidly within a few weeks to the point where he was soon unable to breathe without help. Rosemarie took him to the vet on that last day to have him put down, so that he would not have to suffer anymore. Afterwards, we brought him home and buried him in the backyard that he loved so much, secure in his little basket, with all his squeakies around him.
Rosemarie was devastated. Her friend and companion of 14 years was gone, and the house echoed emptily without the sounds of his happy yelps or sleepy growls. Rosemarie swore that she would never have another dog…it hurt too much when they left her.
I had been studying the field of parapsychology and reincarnation for a number of years. I wasn’t 100% sure, but it just seemed logical to me that, if humans reincarnated in order to learn at different levels of consciousness, so then must animals. And animals evolved same as people did – on a different level. That was the only way I could explain such anomalies as my beautiful cat Devil Child who was stupider than dirt – and the extra-clever and intelligent Patches, who communicated better than many humans I have known. Rosemarie wasn’t certain if she bought this theory, but it was immaterial to her. She insisted that she would never have another animal. I threw out another thought: “What if it was Patches, and he came back to help you once again to enjoy life and to learn and grow spiritually as well.” She didn’t know.
A few months went by. Rosemarie rarely spoke of Patches. I bided my time, letting the grieving process play out to its conclusion.
Then one day, after reading the pets for sale column in the newspaper (which she never did), Rosemarie announced out of the blue, “I have a feeling to go to the place advertised here and have a look at the puppies.”
Surprised, but feeling hopeful, I nodded. Off we went to have a look at them. The puppies were kept in a cold garage…nine of them altogether – a cross between Airedale terriers and highland collies. They were barely 5 weeks old.
Immediately upon our entering the shelter, a brown and white puppy, inarguably the runt of the litter, waddled over to Rosemarie, plumped himself down, and gazed up at her with large, brown, soulful eyes. She didn’t bend down to him just yet but watched him carefully. While the other puppies gamboled and played all over the garage, the little runt sat quietly, waiting for Rosemarie to make up her mind.
I noticed another puppy that I really liked. It hadn’t been my intention to get a pup, but Rosemarie was adamant that she wanted the little brown and white one, so I took the little black and white one. We brought them both home – full brothers from the same litter, growing up in the same household, with the same two handlers.
We named the pups Charlie Brown (Rosemarie’s dog) and Schroeder (my dog) after Charles Schulz’s wonderful cartoon characters of the same name. The two dogs were the best of friends, sleeping, playing, eating together in the greatest spirit of camaraderie and tolerance. As they grew, they developed distinct personalities, quite different from each other, despite the fact that they were not only litter-mates but housemates as well. The most amazing thing soon became evident: Charlie Brown’s habits and personality traits were much more similar to Patches’, a dog he had never known, than to those of his own brother, Schroeder:
- Charlie Brown loved Italian and Chinese food – Schroeder could take it or leave it.
- Charlie Brown loved playing with his squeakies (as well as teddy bears, which we introduced to them when they were both young). Schroeder didn’t actually like the sound of the squeakies and played exclusively with his teddies.
- Although Charlie Brown wasn’t quite as grumpy as Patches had been after he went to bed, he didn’t like being disturbed and usually went away from you if you bothered him after he went to bed for the night, usually settling in a spot where it was difficult to find him. Schroeder, on the other hand, actually enjoyed being wakened because it meant more petting and more attention.
- Although both dogs enjoyed getting Christmas presents, only Charlie Brown would lie with his nose touching the packages and would quickly open them up when given permission. Schroeder had a lot of trouble opening them, needed help, and ultimately lost interest in the Christmas thing. Charlie Brown never did lose interest.
- We figured Patches got smart. Charlie Brown was just big enough to put his paws on the back door window and look out. He loved looking out that window and spent a lot of time at that spot. Schroeder didn’t care much about looking out that window and much preferred to sit on the couch in the living room and look out the large window in that room, which overlooked the front yard.
The most telling thing of all, however, was the eyes. Charlie Brown didn’t look much like Patches, other than the fact that both of them had some collie in their background. Charlie Brown looked more like a highland collie with the gold, tan and white coat, whereas Patches had more closely resembled a border collie with a dark brown and black coat with sparse touches of white. Charlie Brown was also slightly bigger than Patches, although considerably smaller than his brother, Schroeder. However, Charlie Brown’s eyes, although larger and lighter in color than Patches, had the exact same sparkle, the same look of glee, in them. When I looked into Charlie’s eyes, I saw Patches. Rosemarie agreed. She said it was what first drew her to Charlie Brown the day we went to look at the new pups.
At first, Rosemarie thought it was just because she had missed Patches so much that it seemed like Charlie Brown was him. After time went on, Rosemarie became convinced that Charlie Brown was the reincarnation of Patches. There were too many similarities that couldn’t be explained any other way – i.e. if it was the household or the people that influenced the two dogs to behave in similar ways, then Schroeder should have been the same as Patches/Charlie Brown. But he was not – he was a totally different character, with different likes, dislikes and characteristics. The list goes on.
- Charlie Brown loved going for car rides with Rosemarie, same as Patches had when the two went exploring together. Schroeder hated the car and would only enter a vehicle under extreme protest.
- Charlie Brown was quick-witted and clever, same as Patches. Schroeder was slow to learn and slow to discern.
- Both Charlie Brown and Patches were nimble and trim, in appearance and in action. Schroeder was large, ungainly, and clumsy. His only moment of grace was when he galloped across the yard.
- Charlie Brown was social and enjoyed the company of other dogs in the yard, same as Patches, who made friends with other dogs easily. Schroeder was shy and aloof.
It’s hard to remember all the similarities between Charlie Brown and Patches now – that was so long ago – and to recall the many differences between Charlie Brown and Schroeder. The three personalities made a mark in my life, however, and I won’t forget them soon.
In addition, it was an excellent way to study the dogs and the situations. The conclusion was inevitable. Patches came back in the form of Charlie Brown – and he came back to his beloved mistress Rosemarie and spent another satisfying life with her. Charlie Brown passed on at the age of 12, having fulfilled his contract with love and compassion. Schroeder passed on a couple of years later after enjoying a respectable and peaceful old age.