Publicist Jeanette Zinno believes her miniature pinscher, Rocki, has a nose for predicting trouble. Recently Zinno and her boyfriend put a pot of water on the stove for tea, then left the room.
“After a while,” Zinno says, “Rocki came in and barked at us until we followed her to the kitchen, where all the water had boiled down and the pot was burning.”
A new AP-Petside.com poll reveals that Zinno is one of 43 percent of North Americans who think their pet has a sixth sense about bad things happening to their person. Of these, 47 percent attribute the quality to dogs.
Sense or Sensibility?
College professor, cat owner and Manhattanite, Talia Argondezzi recalls her cat’s actions during a recent fire on the roof of her apartment building.
“When I saw fire trucks lining the street I started preparing my cat’s carrier in case we’d have to make a run for it,” she says. Her cat seemed to feed off that anxiety -- following her all over the apartment and eventually hiding under the bed, something he never does.
Argondezzi thinks her cat’s behavior was more a result of the change in her own than anything else. “He is so attuned to our household and to my actions that I imagine he sensed things weren't normal.”
It wasn’t until fire officials assured Argondezzi that everything was under control and her apartment was out of danger that she, and her cat, calmed down.
As for how pets behave in the face of impending danger, Argondezzi’s cat is not alone.
Sixty-four percent of believers say their pet hides in a safe place, 56 percent say they cry, 52 percent say they become hyperactive, and 36 percent say they bark or meow persistently. Some pets, however, have a warning behavior all their own.
South Florida-based executive and president of American Dog Rescue, Arthur Benjamin, says his poodle, Buddy, throws a tantrum in order to predict seizures in others.
About a year after adopting Buddy from a shelter, Benjamin’s wife, Gail, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The disease brought on seizures in Gail. “Before Gail had a seizure, Buddy would make these jerking movements -- like he was having a fit -- and we realized he could sense the seizures coming on.”
Although Gail has since passed away, Arthur Benjamin and Buddy continue to honor her legacy. Through rescue work they’ve done together, they adopted a second poodle, Holly, who happens to be epileptic.
“Now Buddy warns me of Holly’s seizures and takes me to her in time for me to give her a shot of Valium, which either lessens or prevents the attack,” Benjamin says.
Although not quite as heroic as Buddy’s predictions, when it comes to a more common threat -- storms -- 67 percent of American pet owners think their pets can predict its approach.
It might seem odd, but some experts agree that storms cause a static electric charge in the air that pets can probably sense, along with their owner’s anxiety.
by Wendy Toth for AP-Petside
original photo illustration by David Middleton