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My Pet World: Reader offers another reason why dogs and other animals may be waiting at the door

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I'm a retired scientist who usually seeks scientific evidence to support my conclusions. In your column regarding a dog that went to the door before its owner's arrival, you stated that it was a function of the dog's superior hearing. There is another factor you should consider.

Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D., a respected British biologist and author of the book, "Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home," has performed experiments that rule out the pet's auditory acuity as well as time of day expectations as the only explanations of a dog's anticipating its owner's arrival at home. I've provided a link to a less than two-minute YouTube clip, which could point you in the right direction.

— Allen, Marana, Arizona

Dear Allen,

Thank you for your letter. I watched the video, and his conclusion is fascinating. Dr. Sheldrake says many dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, parrots, and other domestic animals seem to know when their owner is coming home by going to a window to wait or announcing it in the case of parrots.


Sheldrake proceeded to conduct a test that removed factors like time of day and the sound of the owner's car as explanations for this behavior. In the test, they sent owners five miles away at random times of the day and had them return in taxis or unfamiliar cars. They kept cameras on the dogs to see what they would do.

Dr. Sheldrake concluded that "some dogs, not all dogs, could reliably predict the return of their owner over and over again in a way that's highly significant statistically that shows it must be something like telepathy because it can't be explained in any other standard ways."

That is very cool, and it doesn't surprise me (nor probably my readers) to learn that animals may have telepathic abilities. Thank you for sharing. I am going to check out his book.

Dear Cathy,


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