DOGS PSYCHIC? OF COURSE THEY ARE! (September 20/96)

I wonder why there was so much controversy when a scientist recently announced his discovery that dogs are psychic.

The scepticism puzzled me. I could have told anyone who asked that several of my dogs possessed something which, for want of a better word, could be described as psychic. Any long-time dog owner can tell you the same thing. Work around dogs long enough and it becomes obvious they have a special rapport with you that borders on the uncanny.

I can give you dozens of examples that illustrate this rapport, but let’s start with the dog that knew he was going to die.

My old Chesapeake was sick. He was wasting away and the vet said nothing could be done to save him. I put off the decision to have the dog put asleep, but the day came when it was time.

I had hunted with the Chesapeake for 11 seasons and we had a routine; whenever I went to his pen with leash in hand, he greeted me at the door. I’m guessing, but I think the dog connected the leash with outings for hunting and exercise. On his last day, however, the dog crouched low when he saw me approach with the leash; with tail between his legs the dog slunk into his kennel and refused to come out. Somehow he has sensed something was different.

Four of my last five bird dogs always knew when it was time to go hunting. Don’t ask me how they knew, but there were totally different reactions from the dogs when I left the house for work and when I had hunting in mind. When I was dressed in work or casual attire and didn’t have hunting in mind, the dogs greeted me every morning with quiet, glad-to-see-you wags of the tail. When I dressed for hunting and had hunting in my mind they yelped and ran excitedly around the pen as soon as I was out of the door.

I know dogs aren’t supposed to reason, but I assumed that somehow they connected my clothing with the day’s activities. Work or casual clothes, I was going to the pen to feed them and they were staying in. Hunting clothes, they were going afield.

All logical, of course, if it’s possible for dogs to put two and two together. Then, one morning on a day off, I decided to put off hunting until mid-morning. I went out to the pen at daybreak dressed in non-hunting clothes and my dog went berserk. He had somehow sensed that I was taking him hunting that day.

Curious about how four different dogs could sense what I had in mind for them, I tried at times to disguise my intentions. Once, I went to the kennel in work clothes on a morning I planned to hunt and I got the whining, yelping run-around-the-pen excited welcome. I remember thinking that the darned dog must be reading my mind. It amazes me at times how my current bird dog reacts according to what I have in mind in the way of activities, but I’m used to it by now. The three dogs I hunted before him were able to figure out when they were going to chase birds or loll around the pen.

I’m sure that my experience with dogs is no different than countless other people and their dogs.

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