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Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home: And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals Paperback – 7 Sep 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (7 Sept. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099255871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099255871
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 168,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

It's rare for a book's title to say so clearly what the book is about. In the case of Rupert Sheldrake's latest work, the controversial content is right on the front cover. Pet owners will see it and smile in recognition; sceptical scientists will shake their heads and mutter about "maverick scholars." We all know of cases of dogs (and cats) who know when their owners are coming home, who go to wait at the door or window 10 minutes or more before their human arrives. Conditioned by the tight rigour of contemporary scientific thinking, we either look for rational explanations or we file the phenomenon away in our minds as "unexplained" and are careful not to talk about it to our scientist friends. Sheldrake, famous for his theory of morphic resonance, has shown in the past that he is not afraid to be labelled a maverick. He accepts that the case histories he details so thoroughly in this book are anecdotal, but that makes them no less real; and as a scientist himself he sets up experimental conditions for studying this previously ignored phenomenon, which show beyond any doubt that the phenomenon exists. He castigates traditional scientists for their refusal to countenance anything that doesn't fit in with their existing paradigms (or prejudices) and challenges them to come up with some more "acceptable" explanation--but none is forthcoming.

The "telepathy" between pets and humans, or between flocks of birds or schools of fish that move as a single organism, can be explained by Sheldrake's theory of morphic fields. Sheldrake is less happy about anecdotes that suggest animal clairvoyance--warning of something in the near future--but refuses to disallow the possibility.

This fascinating book is a first attempt at a scientific investigation into a puzzling but quite common occurance. One hopes that other scientists will follow Sheldrake's brave lead. -- David V. Barrett --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Delightful . . . this book will turn our understanding of animals inside out" (Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of When Elephants Weep)

"Wonderful . . . splendid and thought-provoking" (Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is a follow up to the animal sections in Sheldrake previous book 'Seven Experiments that Could Change the World'. It focuses on various kinds of animals, but especially pets such as cats and dogs. In the scientific world there is something of a taboo against taking pets seriously, perhaps due to the subjective nature of experiences with them...but as Sheldrake points out, they are also the animals we know best, and are therefore easiest to test.

Book contains some great anecdotes, one of my favourite concerning some bonobos (pygmy chimpanzees):

"One bonobo had a long bamboo cane, which she was poking members of the public with, so we wanted it off her. I had a bag of four cakes which we were going to have for our tea, and I thought I would give her a cake if she gave me the stick. But she saw I had four cakes and she broke the bamboo stick into four pieces, one piece for each cake."

Another fascinating historical anecdote concerns the dogs of Scottish drovers. When they drove their cattle into northern England and stayed to work on the harvest, they sent their dogs back into Scotland. The dogs would make the epic return journey alone, stopping in the same inns their masters stopped at on the way down!

Anecdotes aside, the book examines three kinds of unexplained powers: telepathy, sense of direction, and premonition.

TELEPATHY:

Sheldrake gives many examples from his extensive database of pets who know their owners are returning, even when the rest of the family doesn't know it (and therefore can't provide unconscious cues). In these cases, smell and hearing have been ruled out as factors (see the book for the arguments and proof).

Sceptics counter this by pointing out that pet owners' accounts may be unreliable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. H. A. Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 July 2013
Format: Paperback
Dogs that know when their owners are coming home, and other unexplained powers of animals, by Rupert Sheldrake, Arrow, 2000, 320 ff

The title of this book may be rather unwieldy but it tells the reader exactly what to expect. Whether you are an `intelligent dog owner' or just an `open-minded scientist' this book is packed with observations and experiments (during which no creatures were harmed!) that confirm and put onto a rational statistical basis what every pet owner, animal trainer or animal homeopath already knows - that animals are capable of feelings and senses that cannot be explained or dismissed on the basis of human behaviour. It has already been found often that cats and dogs taken from one home to another, or abandoned in the wilderness, find their way back home. It has also long been part of popular folk-lore that animals, both terrestrial and aerial, can sense when there are about to be earthquakes, tsunami or forest fires. Sadly, despite being forewarned, they may not always be able to escape the danger.

In this book, anecdotes (unpublished observations) of animal lovers are turned into statistically analysed case histories (accounts written down and interpreted by scientists, namely, Professor Sheldrake and his colleagues). As well as being fascinating reading, it provides a most valuable piece of scientific research.

After a brief historical survey of the domestication of wild animals, Sheldrake deals first with human bonding with dogs and cats but moves swiftly on to parrots, chickens, geese - and an owl. The author has found no cases of bonding with reptiles or fish. But cases have been found of humans, using precognition or telepathy, anticipating the arrival of a friend or relative.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Jan. 2000
Format: Hardcover
Sheldrake has done some simple, very interesting and potentially revolutionary scientific research into widely-reported phenomena such as (as the title indicates) pets' apparent ability to predict reliably the arrival of their owner some minutes in advance.
He designs experiments to rule out all obvious causes such as the pet hearing the owner's car, and even distiguishes the pet *predicting* the owner's arrival from the pet detecting the owner's *intention* to return home. (It turns out that it is the latter which counts, indicating telepathy rather than a more improbable foresight.)
Sheldrake includes accounts of other experiments relating to telepathy, such as the ability to delect when you're being stared at, and some not, such as a very spooky experiment in which a day-old chick appears to be able to influence a random number generator.
Some parts of the book (e.g. about the healing abilities of pets) are somewhat vague and wishy-washy, as is his morphic fields theory (which is little more than a restatement of the problem it seeks to solve), but don't let that put you off buying it.
No doubt the subject matter will be ignored by the scientific establishment for the time being as too off-the-wall, but the results are extremely significant, both statistically and in their implications for biology and physics.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Brian Griffith on 25 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
Sheldrake makes scientific inquiry not just adventurous and rigorous, but also playful and friendly. His experiments are designed to involve many people in testing theory after theory to account for animal behavior. How do pets know when the vet is coming? How do animals anticipate earthquakes? How do they know to give up waiting by the door, when their owners change plans and postpone coming home?

Sheldrake's experiments, surveys and documentation always prove entertaining. With Sheldrake, science becomes a community experience, open to all who are curious and willing to put their minds together.
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