Team Ineka

The Future

The Future

By Al Magaw

The dogs and other animals that ran for the hills before the  tsunami in the south seas present an interesting situation – for 100’s of years there have been reports of strange behavior from dogs, and other animals, before earth quakes – the earth quake and subsequent under water land slide that caused the tsunami were far from where the giant wave hit – certainly far enough that the earth quake itself would have caused little damage to any habituated land, yet somehow the animals seemed to know that the tsunami was coming. The dogs didn’t bark and show their usual behavior that seems to be normal before an earth quake, and the cats didn’t just hide. They all ran for the hills.

I’ve had a few incidents in my own yard that still cause me to wonder.

“Argus” was a rock solid leader. He had the toughest head of any dog I’ve ever had the opportunity to deal with. Only once in his racing career did he ever refuse to lead a team out of the dog yard or race start chute. One morning I was running a team with 3 promising yearlings mixed in with some experienced dogs. I put Argus up in lead to hold the line out while I hooked up the rest of the dogs. This one morning, Argus refused to hold the line out. I would pull him back up and tell him to stay and he would just turn and try to run back to the kennel. Finally, I put Argus in wheel, and put “Pepsi”, the most promising yearling and another yearling in lead with the third promising yearling at single point. We left the start chute with no other problems. Pepsi and the other yearling set a good fast pace as we wound through the twisty section that comprises the first section of my training trail. As we turned onto the dike that borders the river, a pickup truck came speeding out of nowhere and ran over the front of the team, killing the 3 yearlings at the front of the team. The pickup was being driven by a teenager that had stolen it from his stepfather and gone for a joy ride. To be able to get the remaining team back home, I had to put Argus in lead. Argus showed no hesitation at that point to line the team out. He never ever refused again to leave the start chute. Did Argus have a premonition of the deadly accident?

My little border collie “Quick” never follows the teams out of the start chute, but will scold a dog that has screwed up out on the trail when we get back from a run. Not only does she seem to know what happened out on the trail, she’ll sometimes  scold a dog before the run starts. That dog will screw up somewhere during the run. Are the dogs telling each other what they are planning to do in the future or is Quick having a premonition?

There are many stories of dogs getting excited about their owner coming home minutes or even hours before their owner arrives. It’s common enough that scientific tests have been done to see if the response is a reliable one. Unfortunately, the results were inconclusive.

Do dogs, and perhaps other animals, have an advanced sense of premonition? Like so many of their enhanced instincts, do they have a reliable means of seeing what the immediate future holds? Some humans have premonitions at times and some have them more often. They are often considered to be crazy, but crazy or not, some have reliable premonitions. Is this another area where humans have let an animal instinct wither from lack of use – it makes a person wonder.


Al Magaw is a musher from Salmo, BC. Al keeps a medium sized kennel of 20 – 45 alaskan huskies as well as several pet dogs of various breeds. Al has been training and racing for the last 33 years. Before becoming involved with sled dogs, Al, along with his family, kept and competed with horses for many years. Al can be reached through his website at Al is a guest blogger for Denver Dog Works and can be reached through our website at


  1. Jennifer

    June 13, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    I have learned over the years to listen to my dogs when the strange behavor comes up. I have changed my course of my runs before when a leader flat out did not want to go down a trail. I have also noticed and respond to the diffrent sounds of barking in the yard. They have diffrent ones for when moose or a stranger comes into the yard.

  2. Lacey

    June 13, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    What an interesting post! It certainly makes a person think. I had a situation this winter in a race where my leaders just stopped on the trail. It was a 30 mile run, and we were probably 20 miles through it. Yeah, I’d pushed them a little hard leaving the chute, but they all seemed to have enough energy to continue on at that point. It was an early December race so we didn’t quite have everything together at that point. I had set my hooks and rotated up the only other pair of leaders I had in that 10 dog string. They took me about a hundred yards down the trail then they too stopped. I was doing poorly in the race, and I hadn’t expected to win in the first place, so I stopped and rotated the first pair of leaders up and waited. The whole time my leaders kept their lines tight and kept looking down the trail, but if I tried to get the team moving they would just remain where they were. After probably 2 minutes they decided it was time to go and I didn’t have problems with them again.
    I have no doubt I could have probably forced those leaders to keep going, but it was more of a training run than a race for me. I’ve assumed up until now that they were just resting and being stubborn, but I have to wonder if something would have gone wrong if I had continued on.


  3. Al Magaw

    June 15, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Jennifer, I’ve noticed the diffeent barks too – a collie I had years ago had several different barks for different situations — it took me a while to realize that each of the barks were different for a reason ( I was little more than just a distracted pet owner at that time ) “Laddie” must have had a number of different barks – once I recognized they were different and took the time to notice what the occassion was, I could tell whether it was friend or stranger coming in the driveway – a pedestrian or a bicycle going by on the road – when the kids were coming home from school, or whether the horses were squeaking the fence or a bear in the yard – dogs have a lot to tell us, should we stop and really listen

  4. Al Magaw

    June 15, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Lacey, thanks for your input – there well could have been something going on there – perhaps a moose around the corner, which would be a natural thing for a dog to sense, or something about to happen, and to us, not such a natural thing – Al

  5. Shirley

    January 29, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Fascinating article. I have long appreciated dogs enhanced senses but never considered premonition to be one of them. You may be on to something. because we really know so little about what they’re capable of and should definitely pay more attention when they are acting out of character.

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