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  • Bryan Williams

Exploring Psychic Abilities in Pets

A number of people have said that there have been times in which they've noticed some rather intriguing behavior being exhibited by their beloved pets. For instance, some people have noticed instances in which their dog seemed to suddenly know when a certain person was coming home, even before that person was within sight of the house itself (and in some cases, that particular person was still several miles away from home when the dog first seemed to react). Some stories have also been told of certain cats and dogs that were seemingly able to find and rejoin their human family again even after the family had relocated to another place many miles away. One such story appeared in the "Well Pets" section of The New York Times online blog as recently as 2013, describing the 200-mile journey that one cat apparently made from Daytona Beach to West Palm Beach, Florida, where its humans lived. There have even been times in which people have said that they've witnessed apparitions of cats and dogs. During the field investigations he'd conducted at Engsö Castle (a historic and reputedly haunted estate in Sweden that dates back to the 12th century) in the late 1990s, PRF Research Director William Roll came across reports of a ghostly dog being heard and seen in some parts of the castle. According to these reports, witnesses have heard the phantom echoes of the dog's claws lightly clicking against the stone floor as it supposedly trots through the empty halls of the castle, and some of the witnesses have said that they've caught fleeting glimpses of the dog's spectral figure dashing into the castle's drawing room. Legend surrounding the castle has it that this ghostly dog represents Cottilion, the canine pet of a past visitor to the estate. Sadly, the dog had died quite suddenly in the course of a visit and was subsequently given burial on the castle grounds. It's been said to haunt the castle ever since.

Could some pets really be capable of exhibiting extrasensory perception (ESP) and psychokinesis (PK, or "mind over matter")? And if so, might they also be capable of surviving beyond the moment of death? The study of potential psychic abilities in animals (often referred to as anpsi - short for "animal psi") has been actively pursued from time-to-time ever since the early days of modern parapsychology, with some rather intriguing findings coming to light over the years. To offer an accessible overview of these findings to general readers, an article which takes a close look at some of the main lines of research conducted with pets and other common assistance animals (namely dogs, cats, birds, and horses) can be viewed by clicking on this highlighted link (the article is in Adobe PDF format); the article also briefly ponders the question of life after death in relation to animals, as well. Another useful overview that summarizes the parapsychological work conducted with a broader range of animals has also recently been prepared by Michael Duggan, and can be found on the Society for Psychical Research's new online Psi Encyclopedia. While not yet offering definitive answers, the findings that have emerged so far from these studies would seem to indicate that further and more closer exploration of these questions may be warranted in some cases.

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