This occurred in Western New York in 2012. I confess to having something of a mixed belief system when it comes to the afterlife, including where pets are concerned. On one hand, I believe that there is something beyond bodily death and that animals are not excluded from it. On the other hand, I have little tolerance for the "Rainbow Bridge" metaphor and didn't really believe in animal ghosts. After all, what unfinished business could they possibly have?
And then Oscar died. Oscar was a black Cocker-spaniel and lab mix -- a mutt in every sense of the word. He had a deep love for the water, a small, seal-like face, and a wonderfully effeminate nature that tended to make strangers assume he was either a puppy or female. He was also a simpering coward, but we were hopelessly devoted to him, and him to us. He was my dog in particular, and we were incredibly close for his entire life.
In his later years, he developed a habit of tapping his front paws on the ground whenever he wanted something, whether it was breakfast or to be let outside. The clicking that would result, along with the "dance" that went along with it, was very distinct -- more than once, my mom called him "Oscar Temple."
At age 15, he was still spry enough to run to the pond, swim, and come back. Sadly, he was almost completely deaf and at least half blind. At around midnight on May 11, he was struck by a car and killed instantly. We were all devastated.
The choice had always been to have him cremated when the time came. The day after he died, my mother and I drove him to a small funeral home specifically tailored to pets, just down the street from our vet's office. Although closed for the day, they were kind enough to accept us. We waited fifteen minutes or so for the only available worker to drive up, and when she did, she was incredibly considerate and respectful. She carried the pillowcase containing Oscar inside to a quiet room in the very back of the home, where she lay it on the counter to weigh it. After shutting the back door and locking it, she took us into the office several rooms over to take care of some paperwork.
We hadn't been talking for more than three minutes when we heard it; a short but distinct set of clicks coming from the tile-floored room where we'd left Oscar's body. No one said anything, and at that point, I just assumed it was another animal somewhere in the house. It was, after all, someone's home.
Seconds later, the tapping started up again, sounded for a short time, and died away once more. This time my mother and I looked at each other and wondered aloud what that sound was. The woman said that sometimes the (presently locked) door blew open in the back and it was probably nothing. It was only then that we told her, still rather disbelieving, about Oscar's tapdances.
Apparently, there was no other animal or human in the house. When we got back to the room, the door would still be locked tight. And I admit, the tears came again at that point. My mom thought it was Oscar's way of saying good-bye. I don't, however. Oscar never did like parting from us for very long. I believe it was him telling us that he had never left.