For many people, their pets are an integral part of their household. So, anyone who’s loved and lost an animal will be able to tell you just how heartbreaking it can be. However, when one family suffered the passing of their cherished dog, they found a symbol of hope in the most unexpected place.
Catie Callaghan and her clan come from Orland Park in Illinois. Like many homes, theirs was enhanced by the presence of an animal. The Callaghans owned a dog named Bandit, and for a large number of years they had spent every moment they could doting upon him.
Things hadn’t been easy for Bandit before he found the love of the Callaghans. In his formative years he had gone from pillar to post, never staying anywhere long enough to feel like home. “We were his fourth home, and we always talked about how we never gave up on him,” student Catie told BuzzFeed News in 2016.
However, even with a good family by his side, Bandit still faced hardships. The dog’s health was a constant battle and over the years he’d clocked up numerous surgeries. Eventually, it would be one these procedures that would claim his life.
Bandit passed at the age of 15, leaving his loved ones utterly devastated. The family had nothing but good memories of their dog. These would make their pain easier to bear in the long run. But for now, all they could think of was their loss.
According to Callaghan, Bandit was a “very good dog.” She added that the animal was “loved by everyone” in her family. However, she said that her dad was the closest to him. When asked to describe her father’s bond with Bandit, Catie simply said it was “special.”
So, with that in mind, the whole family were grieving in the days that followed the dog’s death. However, when Callaghan’s mom noticed something in the animal’s water bowl it filled her with joy. That’s because she believed Bandit had sent a sign from beyond the grave.
And it’s not hard to see why the family matriarch believed her pet had sent her a message. In the days after his passing, the water in Bandit’s unused bowl had somehow arranged itself into a smiley face. In turn, it had brought joy to the suffering household.
Callaghan said that she and her loved ones had seen the message as “a sign from doggie heaven.” And it came as a comfort to the family who believed it meant that Bandit was in a better place. “The bowl was a sign that he’s happy. We even thought the smile looked like his. It was a God wink,” she added.
The phenomenon impressed her so much that she decided to share an image of the water bowl on Twitter. “So my 15-year-old dog passed away two days ago. My mom found his bowl like this tonight,” the animal-lover explained alongside the picture. “Doggie heaven does exist. Love you Bandit.”
Given the nature of Callaghan’s post, it soon attracted the attention of her 1,000 plus followers on the social media site. And before long, the image went viral. Since she shared it in October 2016 it has received more than 37,000 likes and 12,000 retweets.
Like the pet’s owners, many Twitter users saw the water bowl as a message from beyond clouds. “I am so sorry for your loss,” wrote one poster. “Yes, that’s Bandit smiling down at you from doggie heaven,” they added.
The touching post moved others so much that they couldn’t control their emotions. “Oh my gosh. That took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes at the same time,” said one. Meanwhile, another simply added, “OMG, I’m crying so hard.”
The attention that her message garnered came as quite a surprise to the Illinois native. However, she did find the many well wishes she received comforting. Bandit may have been gone, but he certainly wasn’t going to be forgotten any time soon.
“My family is extremely happy about how everyone has seen the tweet. It warms our hearts and makes us feel good about it,” Callaghan revealed. She also said that her loved ones were impressed with the support they’d received from the online community. “My mom now wants a Twitter account,” she joked.
At the very least, the reaction to the popular tweet reassured the family that they were not alone. They were not the first people to experience the searing pain of losing a pet. Nor will they be the last. And mourning our animals is a completely normal part of the process.
In turn, Bandit’s water bowl became a sign of hope for other animal owners in a similar position to the family. “I just lost my sweet boy on Friday and this is making me so happy,” one Twitter user revealed. “I’m sorry about your Bandit.”
Another person added that her animals visited her in her sleep after they reached the end of their lives. “Just read this and got teary eyed,” they wrote. “Working on my third tissue. Had a few dogs that passed. [I] was blessed to dream of them after they died.”
It also transpired that the Callaghans weren’t the only people to experience supernatural phenomenons after their pet’s death. “For three days after my dog died I kept hearing his collar tags jingling,” one user revealed. “And on the first eve of his death he passed by my window outside.”
So, while life without Bandit would never be the same, the Callaghans learned to move on from his death. However, that didn’t stop them from honoring his legacy. On the Thanksgiving after his death, the family raised their glasses to their beloved dog, safe in the knowledge he was smiling down upon them.