Here is a picture of the newest addition to my family. As of this writing, we have not decided on a name yet but he came from rescue called Nato so that is what we are using for now. He was a stray, found and dropped at a high kill shelter with an embedded harness requiring surgery. The outlook was pretty bleak for him until a local rescue organization picked him up, got a vet to treat him and then put him up for adoption.
This is one of my personal crusades. Although I love pure-bred dogs like Golden Retrievers and Irish Wolfhounds, there are so many dogs of mixed heritage that need homes that I can not, in good conscience, do anything but rescue when I need a canine companion.
My last dog, who passed over in December, was a rescue from the pound local to us at the time. She was a Border Collie mix who went on to work search and rescue and to be a faithful companion for thirteen years. We knew we could never replace her but we also knew that we missed having dog energy around so, after giving ourselves a little time to mourn, we started checking Petfinder and found this little fellow.
Now, here is the interesting part for all you magical / Fortean / paranormal folks out there. Nato had not been in my apartment more than a couple of hours before he stopped playing (he is very much a prey/play driven pup), sat down and stared at the space around my protection altar, cocking his head and very cutely letting me know that he could see and/or hear the house protector spirits. I politely asked my spirit guardians and ancestors to accept him into the family and he went about his merry way.
It seems to me that I once saw a ghost hunting team on TV using a dog as a detection device. There is something to be said for this idea. Dogs have a long history in the lore of strong association with the dead and liminal places. Dogs also have senses that detect things in ranges we could not even imagine, both visually, aurally and olfactorily. There is a reason that police officers and special forces personnel use dogs as part of their arsenal; dogs can detect danger much earlier than a human and, if properly trained, will alert to it and even go after the source.
In much the same manner, most books on psychic and magical protection will tell you to watch animals in the house, particularly dogs and cats, for unusual behavior if you suspect the presence of unwelcome spirits or magical energies. In my own experience, this usually entails repeatedly going back to a particular spot, staring, ear twitching, abnormal aggressive behavior such as growling or teeth baring or abnormal fright behavior such as tail tucking, ear lowering and crouching.
If your normally confident and outgoing dog, stands and stares at a spot in your house (or elsewhere), suddenly drops his tail and ears and slinks away or begins barking and showing teeth for no apparent reason then you might have a spirit incursion or strong concentration of negative energies that needs to be sorted out. Remember to be sensible and check for mundane reasons for the behavior (you might simply have mice in the walls) but, if you can find no logical reason why this behavior happened and, especially, if it continues, then you might want to seek professional help or at least take up a regular banishing practice until it resolves.
While I never encourage people to ‘freak out’ about spirits and magic, acknowledging that most things can be banished by laughter, I also strongly encourage people not to ignore these things and hope that they go away. Many haunting and curse stories start with an pet being unaccountably upset and then progressing to manifestations that the humans sense. View your animals and particularly your ever-faithful dogs as a valuable early warning system in times of psychic trouble just as you count on them to alert you should someone burgle your home.