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ESP in Dogs


 

            We have a history of ESP in my family – not big stuff, just little things – like knowing when a relative is about to call (before Caller ID), or knowing when a timer is about to buzz.

            Dogs take these little bits of irrational knowledge for granted. They don’t think it’s strange that they can guess when it’s Grandma’s car driving up in the parking lot, or when, without my saying a word or doing anything significant, they know I’m thinking of taking them for a walk. They accept that there are connections and electricity in the air that carry unspoken information, and they don’t rebel against it as eerie or irrational, the way humans do.

            I read an article that said dogs can track our eye movements to read our intent, so that what we interpret as ESP is just heightened attention to our behavior. And, to a degree, I believe that a lot of what we call ESP is really a heightened version of the senses we already have. Someone who seems to have ESP may simply be very good at collecting the information of their five senses, remembering that information, and interpreting it.

Cricket, the observer

Cricket, the observer

Butterfly prefers to absorb information unconsciously

Butterfly prefers to absorb information unconsciously

            But I also believe that there is a level of energy in the world that is beyond every day life. There is a magic that can crop up between people, and dogs are naturally more attuned to these electric and magnetic fields than humans are.

            One night, a few years ago, a friend of mine was in trouble. I don’t know why I knew or even if I knew that he was struggling. Maybe it was a coincidence that I’d emailed him that day. But when he wrote back, he sounded suicidal. He wouldn’t come out and say that, and maybe he would never have acted on it, but I was worried. I wrote back to him and added a note to his cat that she should keep an eye on him and let me know how he was doing.

            Dina, my temperamental black lab mix, usually slept up in my room, but that night, she slept in front of the computer, and then peed on the floor in front of the hard drive. She was getting older, yes, and in a few months she would be regularly incontinent, but not then, not yet. I choose to believe that she had received a message from my friend’s cat and was doing her best to send her own reassuring message in return.

Dina, feeling the vibrations.

Dina, feeling the vibrations.

            Cricket seems to have ESP sometimes too. I have these episodes, when I get tired, where I can’t speak well. I can hear what I mean to say in my mind, even though sometimes my thinking is also garbled in these episodes. I seem to run out of the air necessary to form words with full articulation. But Cricket understands me.

"Yes, Mommy. I understand."

“I’m listening.”

            I could be saying “I…eh…ugh,” out loud, but she knows that I mean “I think it’s time to take the dogs out to pee.’ And she will stand right up and yawn and stretch and come over to my knee, ready to go. Butterfly hasn’t figured out my gobbledy gook yet, but she trusts Cricket to know best and follows her lead.

We think of ESP as magical because we don’t understand how it works. But maybe the magical element of ESP in dogs is not just that they have different abilities than we do, but that they love us enough to use them to communicate with us. I wonder which idea is more frightening: that dogs are smarter than humans in certain ways, or that dogs love us, whether we deserve it or not.

Peaceful, happy Cricket

Peaceful, happy Cricket

Love.

Love.

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

94 responses »

  1. those are excellent questions

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  2. There are times I wish my dog understood me more. He knows things he shouldn’t. He knows when I’m not well before I’ve even rolled over in bed in the morning and will try and comfort me and love me better. Unfortunately, he doesn’t understand what is wrong, and I can’t explain that it will get better. I just have to make my voice sound reassuring and hope he gets the message.

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  3. Dogs sense things we cannot. They are able to tell when a person who suffers from seizures is about to have one – they are able to use their sense of smell to sniff for melanoma. They are amazing animals. Yours are so sweet – love the photos

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  4. of course they have a lot more of senses – but if they grow older, some few got lost…homeopathic remedies reduce peeing for oldies…
    have a good WE my dear pal…:-)))

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  5. They do love us that way, those that choose us by whatever cosmic radar they have that makes a connection.

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  6. Butterfly observing info unconsciously…LOL!!!! And that last one….precious!!!!

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  7. Dogs are awesome and amazing, that’s for sure. Sometimes they scare me though… like when my doggie looks off into the darkness of the hallway and starts growling… I seriously hope she is growling out of frustration of not being able to see in the dark and not some entity lol

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  8. Cats have ESP as well, although it proves annoying at times. I have coffee in my recliner and watch a bit of The Today Show each morning before work. Either Marcel and Marceau will wait until one minute before I’m about to get up and jump on my lap. Of course I feel guilty and give them 5 minutes of lap time making me end up rushing to get out of the house on time.

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  9. Excellent post!
    I think about these things often. You are so right about our special friends.
    Thank you for writing about this area of the largely unexplained. I hope you do it more.
    For a moment there I thought you were going to use the phrase, ” The Human nature of male Dogs”.
    If only we had their gentle and forgiving nature.

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  10. You mean I might get extra treats if I tell Them what the winning lotto numbers are going to be? Easy Peasy for a big treat score.

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  11. Excellent post. I have often wondered about this. I have a particular jacket I wear when we go walking. I can be at the far end of the house, out of sight, but the very second I put my hand on that jacket, they know. I have no idea how they know, but they just do. Actually, it’s quite scary, really…

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  12. Another lovely post and I couldn’t agree more. Dogs know us better than we give them credit for. Ours choose me by curling up on my lap under my coat whilst I fussed her brothers and sisters. We put her back with the litter and she did the same thing, so she definitely wanted me. Even now, when I am feeling at my lowest, she is there ready with a canine cuddle and closeness. Wouldn’t be without her. Great photos by the way.

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  13. My sister has a black lab called Holly. One time, my sister and her family had gone away to visit her husband’s family, around 100 miles away. My mum looked after Holly. At some point, Holly started acting very strangely, pacing up and down and whining etc. My mum later found out that was the exact time my sister started driving to come home. Dogs know much more than they are sometimes given credit for…..

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  14. I hope for a lot of comments, maybe someone has THE answer?

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  15. Us pugs sure have ESP, and my mama knows it. I’m trying to teach her The Ways of The Pug, and she’s learning, but she’s slow. We’re lucky to have people in the world who appreciate how special we animals are.

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    • Pugs also have their own special language, so i can understand why your mama is taking a little extra time to learn. Be patient, humans are limited in some ways, but not in love.

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  16. I completely agree with you, Rachel. Dogs have a great sixth sense!

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  17. There is no doubt my cats have ESP.

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    • I hope they use it for good, and not evil.

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      • Spoken like a non-cat owner.

      • Oh, I would say the same about Cricket. She has to be guided out of trouble. As long as something is in her self interest, she’s convinced it can’t be bad.

      • My cats are completely selfless. They only have my interests at heart ;). Haha, seriously, there is a big personality difference. My older female, Pear, is very solicitous. If I don’t feel well, she lays by me and wants to know I’m ok. The boys, not so much. My dogs (I no longer have dogs, as they have passed away) were the same way–different personalities.
        In fact, the pet I’ve had that most had my interests at heart was a pet rat I had 20 years ago. She seemed more interested in me than any dog or cat who has been part of the family. Weird.

      • I think we had a pet rat when I was little, or my cousins did. They even made a little circus for Nimbus to show off his talents. Maybe he had a mind reading booth!

      • Aw, he must have been sweet!

  18. I think because dogs communicate with each other mostly with body language, they are more in tune with human body language than humans are. Whatever it is, it makes us love them even more 🙂

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  19. napperscompanion

    Love this post, sister. I have this weird feeling that in the world to come, we’ll discover that animals in this present world were trying to save us. Peace, John

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  20. hello cricket and butterfly its dennis the vizsla dog hay shoor esp is all wel and gud but wot we dogs reely need is telekineesis so we can levitayt fud off the kownters and onto the floor!!! then tucker wood not hav had to wurk neerly so hard on his steeling!!! ha ha ok bye

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  21. I lov to read your articles about doggies!!! Alla

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  22. Dogs *know* so much! Not just simple things such as the time to get up…Intuition? Who knows?

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  23. Thanks for visiting my blog! Your dogs are so cute. 🙂

    We have a 5-year-old dog we adopted when the neighbors couldn’t keep her anymore. She seems to sop up a lot of human frustration. When we’re upset, she picks up on it and mopes around the house. I feel like I am constantly telling her that it’s not her fault (that we’re upset) and that she’s a good dog.

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    • Poor baby. Some dogs are extra sensitive, just like some people. I think I was that kind of sponge as a kid. I couldn’t tell the difference between which feelings were coming from me and which ones were coming from outside of me.

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  24. Rachel, I love your doggie pics! And your articles are the best . . . 😉

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  25. Iggy and Egor totally sense the difference from my taking them out to my just going out without them – it doesn’t seem to matter what shoes/boots I’m putting on. But they also sense all sorts of other stuff – wish some of the humans in my circle had half of their empathy!!!

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  26. No doubt about it, I believe dogs know far more than we give them credit for.

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  27. I don’t think either is frightening. I find comfort in their ESP. Aren’t they a comfort to have with us?

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  28. Ahhhhh this is so very true. I read often, books, online stuff, and when I’m sitting and become quietly emotional or sad or anxious in my mind, no outward symptoms really, my dogs just know it. One or the other will come stand by me as I sit. Or nudge me. Sometimes grunt in their only vocal way of communicating. My feelings at that time are pretty much wow, they totally get me. So amazingly intuitive, those pups are. And then when they more than likely are picking up some sort of signal or hunch or wherewithal throughout the day on life that my human brain is too busy for or incapable of experiencing, I always take that moment and listen to them. Something tells me they know much more than I. 🙂

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    • Cricket has been using her powers to help her sister lately, sniffing and listening and trying to diagnose her malaise. I love that they love me, but I love it even more that they love each other.

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  29. I have 2 labs. Peyton is my oldest at almost 5. I have no doubt that he senses when I’m upset. It’s not that I make it noticeable to him many times. More than a few times, he’s been asleep on the floor and I might be stressed or even lonely, he will look up out of the blue at me and come over and lay his head on my lap. I normally don’t believe things like this, I’m a terrible skeptic but Peyton can sense when I’m upset, I know it. My other dog is oblivious! lol

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    • Cricket tends to use her powers for her own self interest, but I know a Golden who watched her Dad after surgery and would have called the doctor herself if she’d had smaller paws.

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  30. Adorable little dogs. I believe that dogs have ESP too.

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  31. Nice post, Rachel.

    Regarding,

    . . . that dogs are smarter than humans in certain ways, or that dogs love us, whether we deserve it or not.

    I think both may be true!

    HNPS

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  32. greyzoned/angelsbark

    Great post! Yes, dogs and cats and other animals too, certainly do have a heightened awareness. And I believe our companion animals can see (or are aware of) the spirits that come to visit us. Very thought-provoking post.

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  33. Rachel, there is “magic” between people and dogs! 🙂 I’m glad you liked my Blog – Are Dogs Good for Your Health?

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  34. My Gang seem to know that I need my sleep . They will not make a peep until they hear the first gasp of air I take as I am waking up … Even if I sleep through their breakfast . I have woke up to 3-4 cats lying on me and all just staring at me . But once I take that first breath ,,, the waiting game is over . lol !

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    • My girls believe that I only need to sleep when they are asleep, otherwise I am fair game. Cricket will jump on my chest and stare at me, crying and then scratching my face if I don’t get up fast enough. Butterfly will just give her “Get up now!” bark, and wait for it to take effect.

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  35. oooh… that kind of stuff happens to Mom all the time.

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  36. Thanks for another great story!

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  37. Just tweeted this and ‘Magical Thinking’, Rachel. 🙂 Great posts!

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  38. Tweeted this and another, just now. Lovely posts!

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