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The Llewellyn Journal
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Psychic Animals

This article was written by Richard Webster
posted under Psychic

When I was a small child, my father accidentally ran over our cat. It happened early in the morning, before anyone else was awake. My father buried the cat by our apple tree and went to work. A few hours later, our labrador dog went over to the apple tree and lay down on the grave. He had never shown any interest in that part of the garden before, yet for the rest of his life, he spent several hours every day lying on top of his friend’s grave.

Our dog was asleep when the accident occurred, yet he appeared to know exactly where his friend was buried. He lay down on the spot hours before my father told us what had happened. Did our dog clairvoyantly know of his friend’s death? Or was he simply attracted to the freshly dug earth?

This is one of the problems when it comes to determining psychic perception in animals. Many years later, my wife and I had another dog who took himself to the veterinarian whenever he felt unwell. We would receive a phone call from the nurse saying that our dog was there, had been treated, and was ready to be picked up. There was a close bond between the veterinarian and our dog, but was it a psychic connection? Probably not. It is unusual for an animal to take itself to a veterinarian for help, but it can be explained logically.

Seismic Sensitivity
There are countless stories of animals acting in strange ways a day or two before an earthquake. Before the famous eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, large numbers of animals fled the area. Today in Japan, people living in earthquake-prone areas keep goldfish because they become agitated and behave abnormally shortly before an eruption. Cats fled the city of Copiago, Chile, in 1922, shortly before a large earthquake destroyed much of the city. Dogs were said to be unusually disturbed shortly before an earthquake in Japan one year later. Two horses became highly distressed before a minor earthquake in California in 1974. Dr. Jack Everdon of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Research Facility found that the horses were living virtually on top of the epicenter of the quake. Cats behaved strangely hours before the earthquake in Santa Cruz, California, in October 1989. These are all fascinating stories, but they do not necessarily have anything to do with ESP. They simply demonstrate that animals are more sensitive to changes in the world around them than we are.

My daughter Charlotte’s cat always knows when she is about to arrive home and waits at the front door to welcome her. As Charlotte works irregular hours, it is impossible for her cat to know by normal means when she is due home. Some people resist a paranormal explanation for such feline clairvoyance. Perhaps, they say, the cat’s sensitive ears detect Charlotte’s car long before we do. This might be the explanation if she sat down at the front door five minutes before Charlotte arrived. However, she sometimes waits twenty minutes for Charlotte to come home.

Instinct-or ESP?
Squirrels gather much more food before a long, harsh winter. Moles burrow deep holes when the winter is going to be bad, but only shallow holes when a mild winter is expected. Are these examples of instinct, or evidence of precognitive ability? We are inclined to credit any remarkable ability in animals to instinct. The mass migrations of some birds and fish are good examples. How can a salmon leave its river, travel thousands of miles in the ocean, and yet return to the same river many years later to reproduce? Scientists have learned that salmon, like birds, are guided by the sun. This enables them to get within fifty miles of their birthplace. After this, their sense of smell takes over and enables them to unerringly reach the very pool in which they were spawned. Is this instinct, or ESP? No matter what it is, it is worthy of enormous respect. The migrations of birds seem to include a psychic element, as they usually fly only in favorable conditions. Being caught up in a storm or blown off course would destroy many of the flock, as they are already flying to the very limits of their capabilities.

In the past, it was considered that animals had senses similar to our own. Consequently, anything that indicated abilities outside our limited range was considered magical or psychic. Folklore developed based on observation of animals. Farmers knew that it was going to rain when their cows lay down. Swallows flying high were a sign of good weather. If bees became agitated and returned to their hives in large numbers, it was a sign of thunderstorms.

Some observations were alarming. In the first century a.d., Pliny the Elder wrote about the “numbfish” that could paralyze anyone who came near. Until the discovery of electricity seventeen centuries later, these fish were believed to have magical powers. Many animals, including bees, are sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field. Others are extremely sensitive to variations in heat. Until scientists discovered these facts, the activities of these animals appeared to be supernatural. This does not mean that animals are not psychic; in fact, there are many instances that scientists have not been able to explain.

In Volume VIII of the Proceedings of the Society for Psychic Research, there is an account of two dogs being terrified by a ghost. One of the dogs ran to greet it, wagging its tail and jumping up in excitement. When it realized its mistake, it turned tail and ran in terror. There are many other documented cases of animals being scared by ghosts. Sir William Barrett (1845-1926), a distinguished early psychic researcher, recorded the story of two sisters who saw a ghost drifting across the road on which they were traveling. Their horse stopped and shook with fear.

The “Clever Hans Effect”
There have been a number of scientific tests of the psychic abilities of animals in the years since Barrett’s observations. Early in the twentieth century, a horse called Clever Hans was considered psychic. He could add and subtract, spell out words, and do other clever stunts, tapping out the answers with his hoof. Professor C. Stumpf from the University of Berlin studied Clever Hans and found that the horse could answer questions only when his questioner knew the answer and was present. Hans was reading the body language of the questioner. Although this was an impressive feat, it was certainly not psychic. Skeptical scientists, even today, refer disparagingly to the “Clever Hans effect” whenever the subject of psychic animals is raised.

One of the areas that the famous husband and wife team of Drs. J. B. and Louisa Rhine explored at Duke University was that of animals who traveled large distances to return home. They examined more than fifty authenticated cases of animals who had traveled more than thirty miles, and found that this homing instinct could be explained only by ESP. In most cases, the animals had been transported from one place to another. Consequently, they could not rely on memory or sense of smell to guide them back home. One famous case concerned a collie who became lost in Indiana, and arrived back home in Oregon the following year. He had traveled more than two thousand miles.

We are all limited by our senses. There are sounds well beyond our range of hearing that dogs can hear. They can also detect odors that we do not smell. Cats can see much better in the dark than we can. Consequently, these animals are living in the same world as us but can hear, smell, and see things that are beyond the reach of our senses.

Animals do not communicate verbally, but they do communicate with each other, and with us, in a nonverbal manner. Monty Roberts, the horse trainer who is believed to be the inspiration for The Horse Whisperer, has invented a silent language called Equus that he uses to achieve the trust and confidence of the horses he works with. He teaches this method to others through his horse-whispering schools.

Dogs Can’t Be Fooled
I have fond memories of sitting in front of a warm fire on cold winter evenings with our dog, Bruce, stretched out on the hearth taking most of the heat. If I thought loving thoughts about him, his tail would thump the floor, even though he appeared to be sound asleep. He was obviously picking up my thoughts.

Likewise, if I even thought about giving him a bath, he would disappear. He was picking up my intentions, even though I had expressed them to no one and had not begun making preparations. I was also able to pick up his thoughts. Like many dog owners, I am convinced that he regularly asked me telepathically to take him for a walk.

My father-in-law was convinced that his sheepdogs picked up his thoughts telepathically. He needed only to think what he wanted his dogs to do, and they would immediately do it. He had to be careful not to think too far ahead, as his dogs would act on the thought he was thinking at the time. He enjoyed a close bond with his animals, and his two sheepdogs knew of his death the moment it occurred. They may even have known in advance; there are many accounts of dogs howling hours before a loved member of the household dies.

Dog trainers agree that it is impossible to fool your dog by thinking one thing and saying another. Dogs are remarkably psychic and respond to unspoken commands. Guide dogs are particularly good at this. To the best of my knowledge, only one scientist has investigated this phenomenon. Vladimir Bechterev, a Russian neurophysiologist, was captivated by a performing dog he saw at a circus. This dog appeared to follow the thoughts of his trainer. Bechterev found that he, and several colleagues, could also communicate with the dog telepathically, and he would follow their commands. He discovered that the dog would obey, even when he was concealed behind a screen to eliminate any suggestion that the dog was watching his body language. More than 75 years ago, Bechterev tried to interest other scientists in his findings. So far, no one has shown any interest in following up on his research.

Cats Are Psychic, But Stubborn
Cats also pick up the thoughts of their owners, but do not always choose to respond. Many cat owners are able to summon their pets simply by thinking about them. Within a minute or two, the cat will arrive.

Obviously, if animals can pick up our thoughts, we can also pick up theirs. There are many recorded instances of lost cats being found by summoning their owners to them. I have not had personal experience of this, but at one time we had an Abyssinian cat called Yana who was always able to tell us when she was outside the back door and wanted to be let in. No matter what I was doing, even if I was asleep, I would receive an urge to go to the back door, where Yana would be waiting to be allowed in. Often, two or three members of the family would arrive at the back door at the same time, as we had all picked up Yana’s message.

Animals in distress send incredibly strong signals to their owners. My mother’s Siamese cat was run over by a car. As he lay in the gutter, he sent a message to my mother, who was playing a game of bridge several miles away. My mother raced home, but it was too late. Neighbors had taken her pet to the veterinarian, but he died on the way.

My father-in-law was convinced that his horses were in telepathic communication with each other. For many years he bred racehorses and found that if he fed one horse out of sight and hearing of the others, the others would immediately show signs of wanting to be fed. This occurred even if he fed the horse at a time that was not usually considered a time for eating. If he gave special attention to one mare, her brother, no matter where he was on the farm, would show signs of jealousy. My father-in-law was a practical, down-to-earth farmer with no knowledge or interest in the psychic world. However, because of his experiences with his horses and dogs, he was convinced that animals could communicate telepathically with each other, and with him.

My father-in-law spent his entire life on a farm. He was constantly in tune with nature and all living things. However, we don’t have to live in the country to develop these abilities. We all have the skills to communicate more effectively with our pets and other animals, using natural telepathic abilities. As we develop our natural psychic abilities, our lives, and the lives of our pets, will become immeasurably richer.


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