MY LAST NIGHT AS A DOG

Do Dogs Come Back As People?


In 2009 I was teaching second grade in a large urban school district. I sent a 9 year old, towhead boy (I’ll call him Billy) to be tested for placement in Gifted and Talented Classes.  The teacher who was qualified to administer such a test had been a teacher for years. After the testing she told me he had been sniffing the test. So, I asked him why he had been sniffing the test paper.

“I was sniffing out the answers”, he replied.

How does that work, was my next question.

“Mr. Iiams, I have the heart of a dog!”

I said, tell me about that.

“Because, I once was a dog. I was a police dog”,  he said sincerely.

And when was that?

“In 1947.”

That was the beginning of a most unusual conversation

My wife and I had recently sold our balloon and party supply business. It happens that I have a Lifetime Teaching Certificate, which I earned many years ago. I took a job teaching second grade in an urban school district near our home. There were twenty very sweet children in my classroom. Have you noticed that children of early elementary age can be delightfully sweet and candidly honest?  In my class there were some bright and engaging children, but Billy stood out. 

My Bachelor Degree is in Elementary Education, my Masters is a MAT Degree (Master of the Art of Teaching). I’m qualified to teach  Gifted and Talented students. As a result, I am atunned to the personality traits of gifted and talented people.

I noticed these traits in Billy: His vocabulary was above grade level, and precocious. He enjoyed interacting with adults and older kids. Also, he was able to understand when a statement was intended as ironic. He recognized the subtleties of humor. For a child in early grade school, these are all signs of a very smart and possibly gifted child. 

I sent him to take a very specific type of test which tests for the Gifted and Talented. The teacher down the hall was qualified to administer such a test. Afterwards, we discussed his results. She reported his score put him in the top one half of one percent of children in his age group. She recommended him, and he was accepted into the gifted program. She told me the story about how he “sniffed” out the answers on the test. She, having taught gifted children for years, said his testing behavior was quite extraodinary.

To add context to my story you should know that I learned how K-9 units operate in modern police work. Modern police dogs are almost never used in the daytime for patrol or crowd control. They are predominately used at night. They search buildings where dangerous intruders are thought to be on the inside. They are also used for bomb and drug detection in airports and other areas.

I have personally experienced a night time building search with the police. It was the middle of the night in a dark and spooky warehouse. Suddenly, I heard the click, click, click of a Police dog’s nails on the cement floor as he was walking my way. I had not been informed the dog had been let loose. It was a familiar and most chilling sound. So, with my heart racing, I quickly found the nearest exit! It must be especially terrifying for a burglar trying to hide! A K 9 unit dog, which is not on a leash, will attack anyone who runs or fights. Knowing first hand about how K 9 unit works, the child’s description of a night time bank building search rang true to me.

I questioned Billy shortly after his test in a one-on-one conversation. I asked him to tell me the story about being a dog. In the most matter-of-fact and convincing tone he explained to me the story of his last day as a dog.

  The Story

Billy told me it was very late at night when he (as a police dog) had been called to a bank burglary in progress. The bank’s front window had been smashed. In the early days banks were more like a retail stores with big front windows. He explained that officers were already at the scene. They did not want to inter the bank as they believed suspects were still inside.

Billy said, “my policeman” sent me into the bank alone. I jumped through the broken window, and saw two men inside. One of them shot me.

I asked, did they catch the bad guys? He replied, “how should I know, I was dead!”

What year was this? 1947  he replied, without a second thought.

I ask him to tell me about the multiple choice test he took, when he sniffed out the answers.  How did smelling the test paper tell you the right answers from the wrong answers? In an exasperated, somewhat condescending vtone he said, “Mr. Iiams the answers smell just like the questions.”

Of course they do, I said.

Days later I visited one of my professors at Webster University to tell her the story. She has been teaching Gifted and Profoundly Gifted students for many years. To my amazement she was not the least bit disbelieving. Without hesitation she said, “you need to get the child tested for ESP” (extra sensory perception).

I asked, do they actually do that?

She said, of course they do.

Unfortunately the school district I was in did not have such a resource, and I could not find a way to having him tested further.

What To Think

What do I to think of his incredible story? Do I think he lived a previous life as a German Shepherd Police Dog from the 1940s? I’ve thought about that over the years. Knowing police procedures of K-9 units, his story unfolded quite realistically. Why would a second grade boy think a dog would be sent into a possibly deadly situation like that?

Also, he told the story so casually, so matter-or-factly and convincingly. I have to admit I was mesmerized.

In addition, there were the reactions from professionals with years of experience working with gifted children. The testing teacher told me about his behavior immediately because she it was so curious and surprising. My college professor, with extensive experience with gifted children, emphatically told me to have him test for ESP.

On the other hand: He is gifted with an extraordinarily high intelligence. And he has an advanced vocabulary. Could he have see a Humphrey Bogart movie? Or, did someone read the story to him about a police dog. Was he just fantasizing about being a character in a book or movie?

You be the judge!  I’m still trying to decide.

As An Aside

Days later I bought two Lottery Tickets and ask him to smell out the correct numbers for me. To my dismay he tried and said he could not smell anything. Okay, it was a longshot. Right?

Weeks later it occured to me that maybe he could not smell (perceive) the winning lottery ticket because he couldn’t see something which had not yet happened. Hmm!

More Info

Whether his story was fiction or nonfiction, it was quite fascinating. I do believe he will grow into a very interesting and successful adult, if he keeps the heart of a dog.