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While John Michell has a brief break from this page,another living legend will be taking his place. Dr Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and the author of Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home, And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (Arrow, £7.99). His website is: Jonathan Cainer

Archive for Thursday 11th December 2003 - Animals that know when their owners are coming home by Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake imageAbout half of all dogs, and one in three cats seem to know when a member of the household is coming home. The figures are the result of detailed research by me and colleagues, both in England and the United States.Some pets start to react ten minutes or more in advance, long before they could have heard familiar footsteps in the street or their owner's car miles away.

I have done more than 100 controlled experiments with a return-anticipating terrier called Jaytee, who lives in Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester, with his owner Pam Smart (see photo below by Gary Taylor). We videotaped the place the dog waited all the time Pam was out. From the time code on the tape, we could see exactly when he went to wait for her.

Pam and Jaytee imagePam went at least five miles away, and returned at randomly-selected times signalled to her through a telephone pager. In some tests she travelled in taxis so there was no familiar sound. He still knew when she was coming.Jaytee started waiting for Pam even before she got into the car or taxi. He seemed to be responding to her intentions telepathically.

Most pets respond only to people they love, but some seem to anticipate when someone they hate is on the way.Mosette helped out a friend whose cat Kitty disliked going to the vet by taking the cat for him, so that Kitty would not be so hostile to him afterwards. Kitty started hating Mosette instead. "Whenever I was on the way to visit my friend, Kitty would run and hide behind the stairs, which she only did when she expected my arrival."

Many readers contacted me about pets who know when their owner is coming home. Here are just two examples.
Connie wrote: "I rarely ever get home at the same time. But my six-year-old cat Aristotle always starts waiting by the door about five minutes before I arrive, so her housemates know I am on the way."
Michelle wrote: "My grandfather had a parakeet, called Chippie. Ten minutes before he would walk in the door, the bird used to go crazy, he just knew when he would be there."

Does your pet know when someone they dislike is coming? Email Rupert Sheldrake with subject heading: Rupert Sheldrake.

Rupert Sheldrake

John Michell would love to hear about your experience of any unusual or unexplained phenomena.
If you have a favourite mystery subject - from spontaneous human combustion to ancient Celtic ritual sites, write to John, suggesting a theme. And if you have any answers or theories about the mysteries John will be highlighting, he would particularly like to hear from you.

Email with subject heading: John Michell
Please note, we regret that due to time restrictions personal replies may not be available.

John Michell is a prolific author. Below are just two of John's books which might interest you:

The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena
John Michell and Bob Rickard - A fascinating collection. Look up anything from urban legends to recorded unexplained phenomena - to the existance of ghosts. All presented in an organised, easy to follow manner, in related categories. A complete index and accompanying pictures with each entry. Excellent reference - excellent read.
Who Wrote Shakespeare?
Was the most famous poet and writer of all time a fraud and a plagiarist? Was Shakespeare the "upstart crow" described by Greene as strutting in borrowed feathers, or Jonson's "Poet-Ape" who patched plays together from others' work? John Michell's witty investigation of the theories and claims reads like a series of detective stories. By the end of the book even the most faithful disciples of the Bard will find themselves asking, "Who Wrote Shakespeare?"

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