Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
One of the more unusual talents dogs can be trained for are things like epilepsy, narcolepsy and a host of other physical problems. Not every dog can do this, but those with the ability have demonstrated to their owners that they don’t even have to be in the same room to know when to act. It is another one of those head scratching “how’d they DO that?” moments for scientists where the most practical explanation is psi. One can speculate that the dogs are picking up a smell or are merely carefully observing, but there have been situations that have effectively ruled these out as explanations.
When dogs are using their sense of smell, they don’t hide the fact, as anyone who has been greeted with a nose to the private parts can tell you. They get their nose right up into what they want a sniff of. So if a dog were using this ability, it would move to the person for a closer sniff before reacting.
Dogs have been known to prevent their owner’s suicide. (From “Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home“)
In the midst of a stressful marital problem, a woman in the north of England decided to end her life. Leaving her dog and cats “sleeping contentedly in a pile in front of the fire,” she went into the kitchen for water and paracetamol tablets. Suddenly William, her beloved English Springer Spaniel, jumped up, ran in front of her, and for the first time in the fifteen years of his life, “He snarled! His lips were pulled completely back so that he was almost unrecognizable,” she says, “Horrified, I replaced the bottle top and, genuinely afraid of the dog, I went back into the room and sat on the sofa. William bounded after me, leapt on to me and began frantically licking my face, his whole body wagging.”
In fact, Sheldrake has reported over 120 accounts of dogs knowing when their owner does not feel well or when they are sad. A person with migraines reported that their dog would lick the side of their face that hurt.
Stories abound of pets who knew when their owner had died, despite distances of sometimes thousand of miles. In fact, Sheldrake received 40 such accounts for dogs alone, including this one:
My brother Michael was a copilot in a Wellington bomber during the war. he went on many raids over Germany in 1940. At that time we had a dog, Milo, who was half spaniel, half Collie, and was particularly fond of Michael. One night in June, Michael was on his way home from a raid when he radioed to base to say that he was just off the coast of Belgium and would soon be back. That same night Milo, who slept in a stable at the back of the house, howled so much that my mother had to get up and bring him into the house. Michael never returned from his mission that night. He was reported missing, believed killed, June 10, 1949.
In some instances, they know beforehand.
Dorothy Doherty of Hertfordshire, England says that the day before her husband collapsed and died, their cat continually rubbed around his legs: “I remember him saying ‘What’s wrong with her today?’ As she had never been so persistent before, I have often wondered if she knew what was going to happen.”
Animals pick up intentions too and nowhere is this more clear than the case of cats disappearing before their scheduled trip to the vet. Sheldrake writes:
How common is this kind of behavior? We carried out a survey of the veterinary clinics listed in the North London Yellow Pages. We interviewed the vets or their nurses or receptionists, asking whether they found that some cat owners canceled appointments because the cat had disappeared. Sixty-four out of sixty-five clinics had cancellations of this kind frequently. The remaining clinic had abandoned an appointment system for cats: People simply had to turn up with their cat, and thus the problem of missed appointments had been resolved.
Cats also sense imminent danger. A rescue worker who was in the position of collecting cats who, in nine out of ten cases would have to be euthanized, recalled:
We continually found that if an appointment was made to collect them, even with strenuous efforts on the part of the keeper, the animal would in many cases not be found at all. We were told the cat disappeared within minutes of the call being made. Only by boarding up a room and literally shutting every single entrance, crack, ventilator, etc., could we be sure of finding the animal. So much time, gasoline, and man-hours were wasted that our system had to be altered time and time again. There were inevitably visits where a cat was never captured.
I have my own story here. My wife and I have always had cats and early on in our marriage we adopted a stray that had been coming to our door for food. He was comfortable around humans and it was obvious that he had come from a caring home. He had lived with us for several years when it came time for us to move. He became wildly agitated, pacing the floors and yowling constantly as we packed up boxes and went through the other preparations. My wife and I alternately tried to console him with no effect. Finally I stopped and realized what it was: I called out to him: “Whitley, we’re not leaving you. You’re coming with us. You’re not going to be abandoned.” In a matter of seconds, the cat calmed down and relaxed and did not show this anxiety again.
I also have a cat that gets my attention by intentionally staring at me, catching my attention even when I’m not looking. It took me awhile to catch on that this is what she was doing and that was why she is such a quiet animal.
I think that when it comes to our pets, we take all this psychic activity for granted. The more reading I do, the more of an impression I get that there is a lot of psychic activity that is so normal that it simply goes unnoticed and unremarked. Certainly by observing animals, we can learn a lot about what is actually going on.