DEAR DR. FOX: I want to thank you for your help over the years with our German shepherd Markus' health problems, which eventually reached the point where we had to decide on euthanasia because he was suffering so much.
Many days after his departure, which we deeply mourned, we seem to have received a "sign" from him. We are skeptical about things like this, but we found pieces of fur on the carpet runner last Thursday morning where Markus used to rest before coming down the stairs. This area had been cleaned and stepped on, but the pieces of fur (obviously from an animal) had not been stepped on and were scattered around this area. They are really noticeable to the naked eye and are displayed in a certain design, like a dog's paw. The whole runner has been covered with newspapers for the last two to three weeks. Newspapers were removed after Markus' departure, and there was no sign of these pieces of fur at that time.
I thought I would share this experience with you and hear your comments. This is beyond our comprehension. -- M.S., Washington, D.C.
DEAR M.S.: I was so saddened to hear from you about the necessary humane decision to euthanize Markus.
I detail many instances of apparent afterlife communications or manifestations by people's beloved animals in my books "Dog Body, Dog Mind" and "Cat Body, Cat Mind." Also, updated accounts are posted on my website, DrFoxVet.net, under the title "The Empathosphere."
I would like to hear from other readers who have had comparable "visitations," which can be in various modalities, such as seeing the animal's form, hearing the paws on the floor or the jangle of tags on the collar, feeling the familiar touch of the animal and finding the animal's fur around the house. While grief and trace memories of aspects of the living animal's physical presence may trigger brief sensory hallucinations, there is evidence, as when two or more people in the home experience the same physical presence or sensation at the same moment, that there is indeed more to life and death than we ever dreamed of.
I like the metaphysical statement that the spirit is not in the body, the body is in the spirit.
STOP MUTILATING DOGS!
"Tail Docking and Ear Cropping Dogs: Public Awareness and Perceptions," a research study published in Public Library of Science online by Katelyn E. Mills and colleagues at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, found that "modified (tail docked and ear cropped) dogs were perceived as being more aggressive, more dominant, less playful and less attractive than natural dogs." They also presented the first evidence that owners of modified dogs are perceived as being more aggressive, more narcissistic, less playful, less talkative and less warm compared to owners of natural dogs.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has encouraged "the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards" since 2008. It is only the breeders and dog show clubs and their "official standards" for those breeds -- like the boxer, Doberman pinscher and miniature schnauzer -- that stand in the way of ending such mutilations in the United States. Such practices are outlawed in Australia and several European countries.
Perhaps one way to bring about change for dogs' sake is for all dog lovers, animal rights activists and protectors to boycott the big pet food companies that seek to profit from supporting dog shows until all responsible parties come together and change breed standards for the better: No ear cropping or tail docking from a specified date; all dogs after that date should not be accepted into the ring if their tails and ears are not intact.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.net.)