Dogs’ sixth sense? by Seeing Dogs’ Trustee, Neil Eward

I tuned in to a local radio station the other day and they were holding a phone-in discussing whether dogs and other animals see ghosts! It was actually quite interesting and, unusually, most of calls were quite sensible. Opinions were, naturally, varied.  Most of those who said it was rubbish also stated they did not believe in ghosts, so it could not possibly occur.

However, many others quoted instances where their dogs (and other animals) had behaved in a totally inexplicable manner and gave quite credible examples.  Now, I have slept in reputed “haunted” buildings and wandered around many places with uncomfortable reputations and seen, or sensed, nothing.  I have also been accompanied by quite sensitive dogs and they showed no indication of anything out of the ordinary.

However, this has not made me cynical of those who claim to have experienced otherwise.

I know of a police dog section using a semi-derelict old rectory for training their dogs in search techniques.  In one session, a total of three GSDs refused to go up a certain staircase. Two weeks later exactly the same thing happened with a couple of gundogs.  Later the officers were informed this was known locally as “the haunted staircase.” So, who knows what might have spooked all those dogs…?

We do have to bear in mind the dogs’ formidable sense of smell: could any anxiety be due to simply something natural it can scent, or even sense, which it simply does not like?

A good example of this occurred years ago. There was a large country house which had been a prisoner of war camp for German prisoners during World War One.  Many unfortunate prisoners had died of pneumonia, etc, and had been buried in the grounds.   Later, the house was purchased and kennels with concrete runs were constructed. When dogs were introduced many were extremely anxious when put in the runs and some even refused to be left there. Many thought this be due to the place being haunted. Much later they were demolished.   For an unknown reason, someone tested the concrete and discovered there was mild radiation being given off.   Could this have been detected by the dogs and they found it uncomfortable? Quite likely.

This is a fascinating subject. When someone recently said they had never seen a ghost their companion asked, “How do you know?”

So, what was going on? Is it an ‘X-File’?

We know that our dogs to have extraordinary and unexplained powers to anticipate events and to read situations which we humans are often oblivious to.

There are so many stories of our dogs amazing powers and many must be true.

Around the turn of the last century, we hear of the remarkable tale of an Airedale named ‘Kim’.  His owner worked on the railway line between Mora and Mallaig in Scotland.  His specific duty was to check the line was kept clear of landslips.   The local area was hilly, and landslips were not uncommon in certain seasons.

One evening, Kim’s owner returned from inspecting his stretch of line after checking all was well. As he settled down for the evening, the night started to close in, and Kim became agitated and unsettled.  As something appeared wrong it was decided, with some reluctance, to go out again. The dog insisted on leading the way, and sure enough, in the darkness before them, a landslip had covered the lines that an hour earlier had been clear.   The evening train was on its way.  Back rushed owner and dog in the nick of time to raise a danger signal before the train came in sight.

The distance involved suggested Kim must have heard the landslip or even felt its vibration. But what prompted Kim to interpret what was happening as significant enough to give a warning?

This is just another example of something which whilst difficult to explain, couldn’t be any more real. Amazing!

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