Most ghost stories that people share are of dark shadowy figures that take human-form, grey ladies, monks and soldiers, but as animals are so woven into are lives and human history, how come we don't hear of ghost dogs, birds or even insects roaming around in haunted houses?
Well it's not unheard of, ghosts of animals including horses are often seen on the sites of battlefields, Carew Castle in Wales is said to be haunted by the laughing ghost of a murdered pet monkey, and even the Tower Of London is haunted by the ghost of a bear.
Across England apparition of ghostly figures riding horses are quite common. Presumably the horse and the rider died together and both had the same unfinished business and decided to come back and roam the Earth for eternity together.
Horses do seem to be the most common type of ghost animal, there's even a cliff in Texas which was the site of a stampede which resulted in hundreds of horses falling to their death, today it's said you can still hear the sound of horses running towards their death.
So, why are horses so good at being ghosts? Is it that they're just one of a handful of animals to have a achieved a level of sentience making them capable of manifesting in the physical realm from beyond the horsey grave? Is it to do with their level of intelligence? Perhaps horses are smart enough to know their purpose in life and therefore can have unfinished business when they die.
A 2016 study did find that horses are more emotive than a lot of animals, researchers found that they react differently to seeing photographs of happy and angry human facial expressions. When viewing angry faces, horses look more with their left eye which is associated with perceiving negative stimuli. Their heart rate also increases more quickly and they show more stress-related behaviours.
Primates are also high on the list of emotive animals, which could explain the Carew Castle monkey ghost. Of course monkeys are pretty rare in cities so it's unlikely we'd see large quantities of ghost primates anyway, but it's well known that rodents have brains capable of generating emotional experiences. It's said that you are ever more than 6-feet away from a rat and there are more than 70 million of them in the UK alone, so if ghostly manifestation is a by-product of emotions, where are all the ghost rats?
If any animal was a prime candidate for becoming a ghost in the afterlife then it would be the dog. Not only because being man's best friends means that we have a good connection with canines emotionally, but because many people believe that dogs themselves can see ghosts.
There are countless stories of dog barking at an unseen presence or becoming agitated or aggressive in certain surroundings. So, surely this canine connection to the supernatural would imply that dogs are developed enough emotionally and mentally to be able to transfer to the spirit would.
Yet despite the fact that pretty much every pet dies at home, there are very few stories of ghost dogs compared to the number of dogs that have lived amongst man. Dogs are the third most popular pet in the world, Live Science estimates that there are 74 million kept as pets across the globe.
However dogs are beaten by cats (88 million) and freshwater fish (142 million) but who's ever heard of ghost fish? That's just silly. In fact, even ghost cats are pretty much unheard of, I'm sure there are a few crazy cat ladies who have seen their lost feline friend after its death but that's about as far as it goes.
Mankind has always had an affinity with animals, whether it be through agriculture or our love for domesticated animals as pets and it's easy to get emotionally attached to an animal, but before deciding whether you believe in ghost animals or not, you should really try to understand your stance on the age old question of what makes humans different to animals. Do our furry friends possess the same level of consciousness as we do?
But perhaps in trying to deduce whether animals are developed enough to become ghost we're overlooking our own brilliance. Many paranormal researchers believe in "stone tape theory," which states that our psychic energy can be "recorded" in the stone, wood or ground at a haunted location and replayed when conditions are similar or on the anniversary of an event. Perhaps we're looking at this the wrong way and it's not the emotions or psychic energy of animals that's being recorded but our very own overwhelming emotional response to animals.
In the case of the long-dead soldiers riding apparitions of their trusty steeds across former battlefields, is it so hard to believe that it might be human psychic energy that is binding the vision of a horse to the location? After all, the ghost soldiers are able to conjure up a supernatural reconstruction of their own clothing, clothes clearly are not sentient or alive in any sense.
If someone had witnessed the mass horse death on that Texan cliff top, could it not be that person's powerful psychic energy generated by the feelings of horror and distress as they helplessly watched the event that has latched on to the surroundings?
It's not too much of a stretch of the imagination as there are tales of ghostly horses complete with carriages, trains, and even ghost ships. These were never living things, so in order for them to exist, we must agree that it is human consciousness which is manifesting these inanimate, soulless objects.
For the skeptics among us, all hauntings are nothing more than a product of the human brain so it seems fitting that we should attribute sightings of ghostly animals to our own incredible minds, whether it be a fabrication, a trick of the light, or our ability to preserve the image of animals for eternity with nothing more than our own psychic energy.