Q: When I was 16, the pony that I had received as a gift when I was 5 died. Sometimes I have dreams in which I am stroking his neck and mane. I can smell him, and the touch seems so real. Do you believe that animals have spirits? And that we can contact them in dreams?

Q: My beloved dog passed away five weeks and six days ago. We were together for nearly 15 years. I light a candle for him every night, and I still talk with him and have his pictures up all over.

Recently, I hear this dull knocking sound when I begin to play with Miss Emma, our other dog, and there have been other manifestations. Could it be possible that my dear baby boy is back with me in spirit form?

A: By far the most frequently asked questions regarding animals on the dozens of radio talk shows on which we appear are whether animals have souls and if their owners may expect to meet them again in the afterlife.

Pet Afterlife

Does Your Pet Have a Soul? By Dan Wakefield

Praying With Katie: How a cat served as a spiritual guide

The late Professor Ian Currie, who was a lecturer in sociology at the University of Guelph in Ontario and author of the book "You Cannot Die," once remarked that he had received numerous testimonials from people who had encountered the spirits of their dead pets in the places--homes, fields, barns, etc.--where in life the animals had felt happy and contented. He felt that this was evidence that life after death exists for animals as well as humans, and that we are reunited with those pets with whom we shared an emotional bond on earth.

Extensive study of the Bible for her recent book "Do Dogs Go to Heaven?" has convinced Tulsa attorney M. Jean Holmes that the distinction between humans and animals allegedly to be found in scripture is the result of a translator's "philosophical construction."

Pet Afterlife

Does Your Pet Have a Soul? By Dan Wakefield

Praying With Katie How a cat served as a spiritual guide

In her assessment, an examination of the original Hebrew texts for such concepts as "soul" and "spirit" clearly tell us that the authors of the various books of the Bible believed that animals have souls and spirits, just as humans do. For those who remain troubled about orthodox teachings that deny spirituality to animals, Ms. Holmes urges them to allow the Holy Spirit to be their teacher.

Janice Gray Kolb did just that. She writes in her book "Compassion for All Creatures" that she received an inner conviction from the Holy Spirit that animals inhabit heaven with us.

"No matter what anyone else may argue, I cannot be shaken on this," she says. "God created man out of the ground, and He created animals and wild birds out of the ground. Man and animal came from the same substance, and the Breath breathed into man was the same Breath breathed into the animals, birds, and other creatures. Genesis 1:21-22 (New American Catholic Bible) says, "'God saw how good it was and God blessed them."

In Ms. Kolb's opinion, God's blessing of the animals is further proof that all creatures have a soul. "Blessed," she points out, "means 'to make holy,' 'sanctify,' 'to invoke divine favor upon,' 'to honor as holy.' God blessed his creation of man and woman and thereby granted them a soul. Why else would God have blessed the animals if it were not to bestow a soul upon them?"

Our own research conducted over these past 45 years has convinced us that just as there is life after death for humans, so also do our pets have some form of existence on the other side. Just as our beloved pets are our constant, loving companions in the material world, so do our spiritual essences remain somehow connected beyond the grave. It may well be that our pets will be numbered among our best friends in heaven as well as on earth.

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