Animals and the Afterlife: True Stories of Our Best Friends' Journey Beyond Death by Kim Sheridan (Paperback)
Anyone exploring the field of life after death, will sooner or later ask the question whether the afterlife is limited to humans. Christian tradition usually holds that it is; although members of animal species would possess a soul, this would be a mortal soul. As far as I know, Kim Sheridan is one of the main contemporary authors who seriously challenge this view. She uses a wide range of spontaneous experiences of people who lost a beloved pet. In this respect, her book strongly resembles the work by the Guggenheims about spontaneous types of postmortem contact with human spirits (ADCs). It is remarkable how many experiences with animal souls have been reported, ranging from telepathic messages and apparitions to stories about reincarnation. The sympathetic author has placed these against the background of her own experiences, which greatly enhances the liveliness of her book. Chapter 7 is dedicated to Near-Death Experiences in animals. The author claims that some animals that were close to death sometimes show personality changes that remind one of the transformation in human NDE-ers. They appear to radiate a deep peace and are much more loving than they used to be, even if they had behavioral problems before the NDE.
She also gives attention to NDEs in which deceased pets play a prominent role. Such as Obie, the cat of Shelley Nunemaker that was accompanied by people in whites robes (p. 89).
Karen Young observed how her dying cat Strawberry Shortcake spiritually left her body. She saw two smiling persons opening a doorway with sunlight and a lot of activity beyond it. Strawberry ran toward the doorway after looking back at her dead body (p. 194).
Shortly before her horse Ella passed away, Tracey Pollard from England had a detailled panoramic vision of Ella's life.
'It flashed past in an instant but she felt that both Ella and she experienced it. It was extremely moving' (p. 334). One of the experiences that impressed me the most is the case of Daisy (p. 223). Daisy was a neglected dog that was always tied up and she had to guard the gate. When her owner went on a trip, he asked Regina Fetrat to take care of Daisy for a while. Regina bathed her and gave her a good time. Years later, when Regina had lost all contact to Daisy or her owner, she dreamed that the dog thanked her for the good time they had spent together. During the following week, Regina felt the urge to call her owner. He told her that Daisy had passed away the week before. Animals and the Afterlife puts the controversial topic of an immortal animal soul on a higher level by the author's thorough, intelligent approach.
Kim Sheridan defends the notion of the survival of an individual animal soul (rather than a fusion into an impersonal group soul).
Furthermore, in the last chapters Sheridan explores the general consequences of her findings for our perspective on animals. She also mentions some remarkable recent discoveries from mainstream animal psychology and advocates a much more respectful attitude to animals, that is expressed among other things in a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
Translation of Dutch Review published in 2005 in Terugkeer of Stichting Merkawah, Volume 16, Number 3, Fall 2005, 28-29.