Barking Blondes: Could your dog find its way home?
On Monday, a keen and kind friend took Jalebi to Regents Park for a walk and let her off the lead. The dog then bolted. Whilst the well-meaning friend, distraught with fear, called the owner and the police and searched every inch of the park, Jalebi got herself to Baker Street station, onto the Bakerloo Line and home to her front door in Ealing. Anyone familiar with the London Underground will realize that this involved a change onto The District Line. There were, apparently, witnesses to this urban equivalent of Lassie Come Home, commuters who watched in disbelief.
Lassie’s journey of course was fictional, unlike Jalebi’s, however there are millions of anecdotes about dogs and other animals finding their way home from unfamiliar places, using an uncanny in built sat nav, or innate sense of direction.
Homing pigeons can find their way back to their lofts from hundreds of miles of unfamiliar terrains. Tapping into this ‘avian GPS’ ability proved invaluable during both world wars, being harnessed as ‘messengers’, and their extraordinary ability saved many lives.
There is still is no rigorous scientific explanation to how pigeons do this.
In Jalebi’s case, she followed a route that she took every day and was familiar to her.
However, ‘science’ can’t work out and explain how dogs frequently find their way back home from somewhere they’ve never been before, or how migrating birds know when, where and in which direction they need to fly to get to warmer climes.
‘Sense of direction’ is an example of ESP or a ‘sixth sense’ like ‘telepathy’ and ‘precognition/ premonitions’. Some people call it being psychic. And it falls beyond the limits of quantum physics, and traditional science.
Dr Rupert Sheldrake, the world’s pre-eminent ‘paranormal’ scientist, has investigated these unexplained phenomena. In his book “Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home’, Sheldrake presents a view based on his theory of Morphic Fields. This is a type of energetic connection or complex social bond between all living creatures. The connection between dogs and their owners is described as similar to an invisible stretched elastic band, or a magnetic attraction.
As well as knowing how to find their way home, dogs can ‘home’ to their person, not a place. There’s the heroic case of Tim the famous Irish Terrier that ‘homed’ to his master all the way from Wales to find him on the frontline, in France, during WW1.
Skeptics of a sixth sense argue that a dog uses his sense of smell prompted by familiar landmarks and routine, to find its way home – but there’s no way a dog can use this to find their master from Wales to Normandy! Or account for hundreds of cases that prove dogs don’t depend on memorising smells or details of a route, particularly when they’ve been ‘transported’ in a car or by plane, only to travel enormous distances to find their way home.
Sheldrake explores many ‘unexplained’ phenomena like the ability for dogs to ‘know’ when they’re soon to arrive home when travelling in the car. He also investigates thousands of cases where dogs literally ‘know’ when their owners are coming home. And most recently he’s exploring how dog’s know when their owners are phoning home.
So next time you are lost whilst driving and you pull over to ask directions ….ask the Labrador NOT the local.
The Barking Hour, every Thursday, 3-4PM, BBC London 94.9FM – www.barkingblondes.netTagged in: barking blondes, bbc, dogs, pets, vets
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