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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 26th February 2004 - Anticipating fits by Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake image Christine is epileptic and has seizures two or three times a week. If she did not know when they were going to happen, she would not dare to go out and would be fearful of climbing stairs. But she does know, because her dog, Annie, warns her. She puts her paws on Christine, and tries to lick her face. Christine stops what she is doing and lies down, and soon afterwards she is racked by a fit. "I can't explain it. But Annie can tell when I'm going to have a seizure," she says. Dog Harvey image

Jackie, in Mansfield, has several severe fits a week, and after collapsing on a main road became fearful of going out. She contacted a charity called Support Dogs, who trained a dog, Sam, to give her warnings of seizures. Now she says her life has changed. "Sam lets me know when a seizure is coming 20 minutes before it happens. If we're in the house, he warns me by barking. If we're in public, he will sit in front of me and stare, remaining rigid like a stuffed animal. This allows me to find a safe place to have a seizure".

In the 1990s, a vet, Andrew Edney, made a pioneering survey of dogs that give warnings of fits. No particular breed stood out. Dogs of all kinds and ages do it, both male and female. Usually they "herd" the person to safety and encourage him or her to lie down. When the seizure is taking place, they either stay by the person or seek help. And they are remarkably reliable. As Edney commented, "No dog seemed to get it wrong, one even ignored 'fake' seizure attempts."

How do they do it? No one knows. Perhaps they detect tremors, or subtle smells. But some dogs can do it from a distance, and run in from another room to give a warning. There may be more to it than the usual senses. But whatever the explanation, thousands of people like Jackie and Christine depend for their freedom and safety on dogs with this unexplained ability.
Rupert Sheldrake would like to hear from readers about animals that give warnings of seizures or other emergencies. Email Rupert Sheldrake's researcher, with subject heading: Rupert Sheldrake.
Rupert's website:

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 mystery@cainer.comwith 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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