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 http://www.spiritofthenorthkennels.com Al is a guest blogger for Denver Dog Works and can be reached through our website at http://www.denverdogworks.com