Scotland’s Ballechin House was a haunted building with a difference, the difference being that its haunters were primarily of the hairy, four-legged variety. That’s right, small, hairy Scotsmen running around on all fours…
In 1876 the house’s owner Major Robert Steuart died, but not before making it clear to all that he had no intention of staying dead. Having picked up a fondness for the idea of re-incarnation during his army days in India, the major was convinced that he would return as a spirit inhabiting one of his 14 dogs. Good news for the major, but not so good news for his canine menagerie as upon his death John Skinner, the major’s nephew and heir, promptly shot all the dogs dead! What a bastard!
Shortly after the killing of the dogs mysterious events started to take place, for either the major had achieved his goal shortly before the heinous deed was done or the slain dogs had decided to take their revenge. Both the inhabitants and visitors to the house would often pick up a smell not to be expected in such a house, the smell of dogs. No dogs were visible, yet there it was, the characteristic and unmistakable scent of man’s best friend. And it didn’t stop there, as the invisible creatures would go as far as to nudge and paw the bewildered humans. More prosaic signs of haunting were also in evidence, such as loud noises and angry but incomprehensible voices, which suggests that perhaps it was not only the dogs but also the major who had returned from the Great Beyond. After the nephew’s death, apparently in a car accident, the house was rented out to various people including hunters, priests and nuns. All these people fled the house in terror within a week of arriving, complaining that the place was haunted by invisible animal presences. In early 1897 paranormal investigators from the Society for Psychical Research moved into the house in order to study its phenomena. Suddenly the house was inundated with a multitude of unexplained phenomena. Not only did the smell of dogs become more prevalent, not only were people feeling something large and furry brushing
against their legs, but now the spectral hounds could also be heard! The pattering of doggie feet, the sound of dogs bounding around the room and sounds of dog sized animals throwing themselves against the lower parts of doors were everywhere. Strangely, there seem to be no reports of ghostly barking or howling, something which makes the tale all the more eerie, all the more unnatural. Even more uncanny is the apparition of a black spaniel spotted several times and seen to disappear into thin air. What makes this aspect of the haunting especially chilling is that the major had often mentioned that of all his dogs there was one in particular that he would like to come back as – that dog was a black spaniel. Like the house’s previous tenants, the paranormal researchers came to the
conclusion that the place was haunted by unseen canine presences and quickly vacated the premises.
The house’s bad reputation eventually led to it being vacant from 1932 till 1963 when most of it was destroyed in a mysterious fire set by a small black spaniel. After the ruins were knocked down most of the phenomena seems to have followed it into oblivion, the one exception being a spectral black dog that is still occasionally seen roaming the area where Ballechin House had once stood.