We’ve all heard the stories. A cherished family pet is lost during a family vacation but miraculously finds its way back to its home after several months. A cat walks several miles to its former owner’s new home after being left behind with new owners. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey was loosely based on a real story involving three companion animals who were separated from their family and crossed several miles of Canadian forest and mountains before reuniting with their owners.
And what about animals who seem to know when their owners are returning home from a long vacation or a day trip?
As a pet sitter, I see this all the time.
I was once taking care of a client’s three dogs and four cats in their own home for several days. On the day of return the owner was delayed a few hours. An hour before her arrival, however, her tribe all gathered from different parts of the house to position themselves in front of the entryway.
Another client went on a cruise for several days and left me to take care of his 17-year old bichon frise. On the day of his master’s return, the little deaf and blind dog stationed himself by the front door and waited expectantly for his beloved master to return.
My own cat Molly Maguire would leave a hot steamy reminder in the middle of the living room on the day of my return from traveling–just in case I was lost and needed her “help” finding my way home. (Animals in the wild frequently mark territories with feces and urine as signposts for members of their clan who are missing).
Many theories and hypotheses ranging from telepathy and ESP to the chaos theory and One Mind concept have been suggested to explain this phenomenon and its many implications.
The most serious effort to study and explain this in a scientific manner was made by biologist and research scientist Rupert Sheldrake. In his book, Dogs that Know When Their Owners are Coming Home and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (1999, 2011), Sheldrake examines numerous factors that might be at play. He ultimately concludes that an “invisible connection between animals and the people to whom they are bonded” exists, which he attributes to a “morphic” or energy field that connects owner to animal. (2011, p. 8). This morphic field is like an invisible rubber band that keeps beings inside the field connected. No matter how far away one of the beings moves from the center of the field, the morphic field or rubber band expands to maintain the connection.
Do all animal companions behave in response to a morphic field? No, says Sheldrake. The bond an animal has with a person or locale plays an enormous role in its response to being separated. Animals that are treated like members of the family are more driven to reunite with their human companions than animals who are kept outside or do not share a close bond with their caretakers.
Another factor is that some animals are not as communicative or receptive as others. Just like people, there are animals who are shy or introverted and are not sensitive to people or environment.
Whether your animal companion knows your every move or not, pioneer Animal Communicator Penelope Smith suggests telling your animals when you are going away and when you plan to return. Do Fluffy and Rover understand your words? It is more reasonable that they have some precognitive sense of what is taking place by your intention. Doing so may reduce stress and separation anxiety in your animals.
Not to mention the number of hot steamy reminders awaiting you in the living room.
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Animal Talk: Interspecies Telepathic Communication. Penelope Smith, (1982).
Communication with All Life: Revelations of an Animal Communicator. Joan Ranquet, (2008).
Dogs that Know When Their Owners are Coming Home. Rupert Sheldrake, (2011).