"As the years passed, we adopted two more pets, one a Bichon Poodle mix. We named him Toby2. He was the runt of his litter and spent over three months in a kennel. He is also very lovable, but does not take to strangers or little children. We suspect he was abused. We also adopted a Jack Russell terrier while visiting Branson, Missouri, so he was, of course, named Branson. He is super smart, but is all energy and also is very lovable.
"It is now late December, almost three years after Toby's demise. We still talk about Toby at times and even wonder if we ever would see him again, as death appears to have finality. Evelyne and I then started decorating the outside of the house, as we do for Christmas every year. There is a large planter facing the house. Evelyne placed a red bushel basket with a faux pine tree in it, on the planter. A few days after the basket was placed, we had the first snowstorm of the winter. That evening, after returning from walking Toby2 and Branson, the basket seemed to have taken on a strange appearance. I waited until the next day to show Evelyne the basket, and the appearance was even more pronounced. It seems to be a puppy looking at the house. The 'puppy in the basket' has been there for over four days and is slowly fading away as the weather is changing. Toby's visit is nearly over. Please judge for yourself after viewing the enclosed pictures."
I think a large part of the pareidolia phenomenon is that we often want to find something familiar or meaningful in chaos and randomness. So I think when this collection of snow piled up on the planter and left three spots for eyes and nose, it reminded John of his beloved pet, and so it became meaningful for him and his wife. Far be it from me to negate that meaning. In cases like this, it might not be a paranormal phenomenon, but that does not necessarily invalidate the meaning for those who experienced it.