Ancient folk wisdom handed down over the years claims that dogs are able to sense an impending death; and hearing a dog howling has traditionally been considered to be an omen of someone passing.
A canine chorus was one of the portents of the assassination of Julius Caesar, while in later years the 19th century American poet Longfellow wrote:
"In the rabbinical book it saith
The dogs howl when, with icy breath,
Great Sammael, the angel of Death,
Takes thro' the town his flight."
There is scientific evidence to support the belief that dogs can tell when someone is approaching the end of their life: their superlative sense of smell can enable them to detect the most subtle of chemical changes, a talent which recently has been employed in helping to sniff out cancers. It doesn't, hoewever, explain the howling, or how many can apparently sense the demise of owners many miles distant - that is still very much in the realms of the paranormal.
When English archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter and his financial backer Lord Carnarvon opened the tomb of Tutankhamun in November of 1922, the world was dazzled as details of the 'wonderful things' were revealed. But after they entered the inner burial chamber and found the sarcophagus on 16th February the following year, a sensational new topic was soon doing the rounds - that of the 'curse of the pharaohs'.
Superstitions about the horrible fate awaiting those who were foolhardy enough to disturb an Egyptian pharaoh's last resting place date back to the first century - but following the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, they gained a whole new lease of life. On March 6th 1923, Lord Carnarvon was bitten by a mosquito; the bite became infected after he cut it while shaving and subsequently he developed blood poisoning and pneumonia, and died on April 5th in Cairo.
Supported by the likes of such well known figures as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who declared himself convinced of the existence of the pharaoh's curse, rumours immediately spread like wildfire that it had claimed its first victim. The allegations were further fuelled and given credence when it was widely reported that at the precise moment of Carnarvon's death all the lights in Cairo went out and that his dog Susie, back home in Britain, was said to have howled and then dropped dead herself.
This is just one of over 150 tales of ghostly dogs and supernatural canine happenings related in HAUNTING HOUNDS, available soon from Amazon. Find out more on the next page!