ESP Story 1

Animal Psychics


Animal Psychics: Earthquakes

People have long believed that when animals display agitated behavior an earthquake is coming. For example, according to an article published in 1888 in Nature, "ponies have been known to prance about their stalls, pheasants to scream, and frogs to cease croaking suddenly a little before a shock, as if aware of its coming." Birds, too, have been observed hiding their heads under their wings prior to an earthquake; sometimes seabirds have headed inland before an earthquake hit off the coast. Even fish have acted strangely. Some scientists in Japan conducted a series of experiments by watching catfish in an aquarium. Usually the cat-fish were very slow and unenthusiastic swimmers. But their activity level increased six hours or so before earthquakes. Then they would jump and swim wildly. The experimenters found that the catfish successfully predicted earthquakes about 80 percent of the time.

The Chinese have led the way in the study of animal behavior related to earthquake prediction, but have been somewhat secretive about the results. Prior to one earthquake, according to author Dennis Bardens, the Chinese radio network announced in 1976 that the "yak lay sprawling on the ground. The panda was holding his head screaming, and the swan got up from the water and lay down on the ground."

But scientists in the United States have also explored animals' knowledge of future earthquakes. For example, for one experiment in the late 1970s, in the desert northeast of Los Angeles near the fault line known as the Palmdale Bulge, rats and pocket mice were positioned either in above-ground cages or in underground burrows where their behavior was checked electronically. In 1979, a number of earthquakes that ranged up to 5,2 on the Richter scale were recorded in the area.   In some cases, the ground shook for up to twenty seconds. Had the rats and mice behaved differently prior to the quakes? According to the researchers, they had not. One researchers, UCLA biologist Robert Lindberg, concluded that:

we did not have good evidence of animals behaving differently. Just prior to the March 15th swarm of quakes, we did have one or two of the pocket mice run above ground at a time when they are usually in their underground cages. But that could have been attributed to the warmer weather we were experiencing. Unfortunately, we couldn't prove if the animals could or could not predict earthquakes.

Despite this scientific attempt to measure the animals' behavior, most information about their precognitive earthquake detection comes from the stories observers tell. For example, survivors of a 1960 Moroccan earthquake that killed fifteen thousand claimed to observe animals, including many dogs, fleeing the town at the center of the quake--before it struck. Hours before an earthquake destroyed most of the Yugoslav town of Skopje in 1963, the animals at the local zoo woke the zookeepers. According to author Bill Schul "elephants charged the bars of their cages, tigers and cats paced their cage and constantly roared, and two bloodhounds at the police station leaped at the windows in efforts to escape the building." In 1979, animals in a safari park south of San Francisco acted strangely the night before an earthquake. Mary O'Herron, a park official, reported to the Daily Telegraph that "on the evening before the llamas would not eat. That's unusual. They were running around wildly all night." In addition, a cougar, a baby tiger, and an elephant all displayed abnormal behavior. But most people seem to think of dogs when they think of earthquake predictions. For some reason, they have received high marks for signaling their owners (and others) that something is wrong. For example, Ninda Steccoti, a survivor of a 1976 northern Italian quake, reported that her dogs had begun to bark wildly, alerting her that something was terribly wrong. In another case, on Wednesday, July 29, 1976, a golden retriever names Lisa awakened officials at the British Embassy in Peking with her barking. No matter what they did to try to calm her, Lisa would not stop barking. As author Dennis Bardens wrote:

The dog's incessant barking convinced them that something was going to happen and they aroused the other members of the staff, who quickly fled the building. That quake was potentially 1 1,000 times as destructive as the atomic bomb which wiped out the city of Hiroshima in World War II.

Over two hundred and fifty thousand people died when the quake hit a few hours later in the city of Tangshan, one hundred miles east of Peking, However, according to writer Michael Bowker, no claims of unusual animal behavior were reported in Tangshan itself. If animals have the ability to see an upcoming earthquake, why didn't they alarm the citizens of Tangshan.

Do animals sense a change in the atmosphere or in sound waves that alerts them to a coming disaster. Do they somehow "see" the future? Or in hindsight, do people say, "I should have paid more attention to my dog and gotten out of here. He knew that the earthquake was coming." Some scientists might agree that animals are able to detect small changes in their environment that cause them to become worried. But most are skeptical that animals can predict earthquakes at all. In fact, few scientists are studying the relationship between animal behavior and earthquakes any longer, not only because there is no funding available, but also because they see little use in pursuing a dead-end option. New earthquake researchers have turned to technological tools (such as lasers) to detect earthquakes before they occur.


Animal Psychics: Disasters

Another way that animals seem to be psychic is when they sense an impending disaster and protect their owners from a tragedy that couldn't have been foretold. Dogs, and sometimes cats, are singled out for this amazing ability.

For example, authors Vincent and Margaret Gaddis have told the experience of William H. Montgomery, who planned to go fishing in the Atlantic Ocean one sunny day in 1938. After he prepared his boat, he called his Irish setter, Redsy, who always accompanied him on his fishing trips. That day, however, Redsy wouldn't get into the boat. No matter what Montgomery said or did, she wouldn't budge from the dock. The sky was bright blue; there was a slight breeze. He couldn't have asked for a better fishing day--except that Redsy wasn't cooperating.

Rather than force his dog into the boat or leave her behind, Montgomery realized that something was wrong. He trusted Redsy's refusal and unloaded the boat. As he did he watched scores of boats head for prime fishing water.

Within an hour, the wind picked up and a storm-later called the Great Hurricane of 1938set in. Forty-foot waves pounded the shoreline, and over six hundred people died, including many fishermen. What would have happened to Montgomery if Redsy hadn't somehow seen the coming of the storm?

According to author Bill Schul, a farmer's cat from Lawrence, Kansas, knew that a tornado was coming four days before it struck. The cat had given birth to four kittens in the family's barn. Soon after, the family noticed that one of the kittens was missing. The next day a second kitten was missing. Another kitten was missing on the third day. Finally, on the fourth day, neither the last kitten nor the mother cat was anywhere to be seen. That night a tornado struck, leveling the barn. Where were the cat and her kittens? Safely sheltered at a neighboring farmhouse, which had been spared from the tornado's path. Did the cat somehow "see" the coming tornado? How did she sense it four days before it was formed?

Writer Andrew MacKenzie has told the story of Merry, a cocker spaniel who lived with the Baines family in London during World War H. It was a difficult time for anyone living in London, since Germany had bombed England repeatedly since 1940. On June 30, 1944, a bomb had dropped a block away from the Baineses' home, destroying some houses and injuring many people. That day, Mrs. Baines and her daughter Audrey suddenly became concerned when they couldn't find Merry. After a thorough search, they found him curled up in the family's bomb shelter.

The shelter, which was in the backyard, hadn't been used by the family in four years because it had seemed too damp. They preferred instead to sit under the table in the dry, warm dining room when air raid sirens went off. Audrey picked Merry up and carried him from the shelter. She wasn't sure if he was ill or not, but three more times that morning she found him asleep on one of the shelter's beds. Audrey later said that by noon:

my mother and I were at Our wits) end to understand the fascination of the place which had been ignored so long. Eventually we went down into the dank darkness and sat on the bunks beside Merry. Once our eyes had become accustomed to the blackness and our noses to the stench, there was a strange feeling of security not found in the [dining room].

At that point her mother said they were silly not to use the shelter, so they set about cleaning it up. As soon as they began their work on the shelter, Merry ran off to play. That night, the family stayed in the backyard shelter. At 2:50 A.M., a German bomb exploded outside the Baineses' house, destroying it. The explosion also ignited a gas line, causing a flash fire that quickly spread through the area. In all, eleven houses were demolished, while many others were severely damaged by the fire. If they had been under the dining room table, they would most likely have been killed.

MacKenzie carefully researched and documented this story to make sure that it was true. Neighbors and family members confirmed the facts. Did Merry travel through time to see the bomb destroying the family house? Or did Merry suddenly remember the bomb shelter and decide that it was a more comfortable place to be than the dining room? These are questions that Mackenzie wasn't able to answer. 


Animal Psychics: Upcoming Events

Although there have been no reported cases of animals making time trips to the past (after all, how would your dog let you know that he had just witnessed a Civil War battle?), some animals appear to have seen upcoming events.

One dog who reportedly saw the future was Missie, a Boston terrier from Denver. According to author Bill Schul, who studied the case, Missie's first precognitive experience happened in 1964, a few weeks before the presidential election. Missie's owner, Mildred Probert, had taken her to a local hardware store on an errand.

"How many weeks is it until the election?" Miss Probert asked the store's owner.

Before the woman could reply, Missie barked three times.

"Why, three weeks," the woman said. But Miss Probert realized that perhaps Missie was answering her question.

"How many days until the election, Missie?" Miss Probert asked. Missie barked nineteen times; there were nineteen days until the election.

"Mildred," the woman said, "ask her who's going to win the election. Goldwater or Johnson?"

"But how would she know that?" Mildred asked.

"You'll think of a way," the woman said.

So Miss Probert said to Missie, "If Mr. Johnson is one and Senator Goldwater is two, who will win the election?"

Missie barked once.

Miss Probert wasn't convinced that Missie knew what she was barking about. "Now, Missie," she said next, "if Barry Goldwater is one and Lyndon Johnson is two, who will win the election?"

This time, Missie barked twice.

A number of spectators had watched the dog predict the winner, and one of them telephoned a local paper to report the story. The day after the election, Missie's picture appeared in the Rocky Mountain News along with the word of her accurate prediction.

But was Missie's prediction a guess or an actual precognitive experience? Some would say the latter, since Missie seemed to be able to see into the future. She became so popular that she appeared on a radio talk show, barking out replies to callers. She seemed especially able to give accurate information about upcoming political events and births of babies.

One day in 1965, a pregnant woman visited Missie and Miss Probert. "You know," Mildred said, "Missie can tell you when you'll have your baby."

"I know all about that," the woman said. "My doctor has scheduled me to have my baby on October 6th."

"Will this lady have her baby on October 6th?" Mildred asked Missie. Missie barked once, which meant no.

"When will the baby be born?" she asked next.

Missie barked nine times: September. After a pause, she barked twice, paused again, then barked eight times. Mildred took this to mean that the baby would be born on September 28.

"Will it be a girl?" she asked Missie.

Missie barked twice.

"Will it be a boy?"

Missie barked three times: yes.

"The doctor told me that it is most likely a girl," the woman said.

Mildred ignored her and kept asking Missie questions.

Missie barked out the following information: The woman would have her baby at 9 P.M. It would weigh seven pounds. The woman disputed both possibilities. The doctor had scheduled her to deliver the baby at 9 A.M., and her two other children had weighed five pounds, Missie had to be mistaken on all counts.

The night of September 28, however, the woman's husband called Miss Probert.

"My wife had her baby tonight," he said excitedly, "at exactly 9 P.M. "How much did the baby weigh?" Mildred asked. trying to prove that Missie had been 100 percent accurate.

"Seven pounds," he said.

Missie probably received a few extra treats that night for her psychic accuracy. Think a dog could open up a psychic hotline?

Copyright © James M. Deem. Taken from How to Travel through Time (Avon, 1993). All rights reserved.