Do animals have souls?

The experiences of others: continued

Many thanks to Toni of the USA for this account: Burton1

When Burton was first diagnosed with cancer, it was two days before we were due to leave for a trip to Nashville, TN. We were thinking of moving there and wanted to scout out the area/interview for jobs, etc. When we received the news, we cancelled everything. Even though at the time Burton had no outward symptoms, I just couldn't leave him in his time of need. Dogs don't always show their discomfort and he was so attached to me that I thought my absence would cause him stress and possibly make things worse.

We are both so glad we cancelled that trip because Burton died just 3 short weeks later. By cancelling the trip, we had more time with him and not only did I get to try some non-invasive treatments that did not change the outcome but I believe made him more comfortable, we also got to take him on an adventure every day: the park, a lake, a short walk along the river, anything to make him happy.


After he died, the house seemed so empty with just my husband and I. Burton's personality and energy filled the room and we found the silence unbearable. Once we received his ashes from his private cremation and placed the box in his favorite spot in the closet, we decided to take our quick trip to Nashville to get out of the house.

Almost immediately after booking, I started to worry if that was the right thing - if there is even a "right" thing. Was I being selfish? Should I stay in the house for some time after in case his spirit is still here? I don't want him to feel abandoned so I left all of his things out, his water, his bed, his toys.

We still talked to him as if he was still here and I privately asked him for some kind of sign that he was happy and OK. I read someone's account of doing the same thing and she asked her dog for a blue butterfly. If she saw one, she would know that he was OK. Since Burton was black and white, I asked for a black and white butterfly as a sign that he was OK. I should point out that we live in the Pacific Northwest, in a cold, dry climate and I haven't seen a butterfly in five years but I figured if he was OK he could make it happen.

I saw his outline!

The night before we left for our trip to Nashviille, I woke up startled from feeling a heavy pressure on my arm, like someone sat on it. It didn't hurt but it was very heavy and woke me up. I bolted up out of bed and out of habit I looked to Burton's bed on the floor next to my side of the bed and I saw him laying there.Burton3 I couldn't make out details, it was more like a grey shadow but it was the outline of his body. I wasn't awake enough to really act on it, I just remember laying back down with the feeling like he was there so I could go back to sleep. In the morning, I told my husband that I think Burton came to visit us last night and he said he knew, he had had a dream of Burton running through green fields with a big smile on his face and for some reason he was running in a giant swarm of about 100 black and white butterflies, just laughing...

I saw the butterfly!

Burton4 During our time in Nashville, we looked at potential homes to buy. It was tough because we always took Burton into account when looking for a house. Did it have a nice yard, could we put in a doggy door, could we build a fence, etc...? We still talked to him, asked him if he would like it there, showed him what the yard would be like etc...In one home, still under construction, I walked into the garage and I looked down to find a small black and white butterfly. I bent down and it fluttered around me for several minutes before flying away. There was nothing else around, we were in a muddy field on a new construction site. It may just be the grief but I believe this was Burton trying to tell me that he was OK and that he would/could find me anywhere, no matter where I went.


The loss is still overwhelming, we try to tell ourselves that we did the right thing for him (not pursuing a risky surgery/chemo) by keeping him happy and comfortable and providing a calm, respectful death (we had him euthanized here at home). We gave him a good life, and as hard as it is, we felt it was our duty to give him a good death too. We kept his ashes and those of his older sister because we know we are not staying in this area. When we find our forever home, we will bury them there.

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