The Pet Corner: Do pets have a sixth sense?

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, July 17, 2019

We’ve all seen and read fictional stories about superheroes with extraordinary abilities. Comic books depicted heroes like Superman as faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap buildings in a single bound. He even has X-ray vision.

We’ve also seen plenty of science fiction movies and television shows with individuals having unique abilities or a sixth sense. Hollywood is notorious for making us wonder if it would be possible for someone to have such unbelievable skills.

In recent years, dogs have been acting stars with abilities such as being able to talk, play sports, and even fly.

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I guarantee dogs can’t fly. Some of their natural abilities do defy standard scientific research.

Dogs have proved over and over that they have unique skills unmatched by any other animal, including humans.

Dogs have extraordinary senses such as hearing and smell, but do they also have some other superior sixth sense? There is no scientific evidence of their sixth sense, but they certainly do continue to surprise us regularly.

I have heard countless stories from pet owners who describe an incident when their dog acted with extraordinary, unbelievable and demonstrable abilities.

There have been countless stories of dogs separated, for one reason or another, from their home and found their way back, sometimes walking hundreds of miles.

I remember the first time I was astonished by an animal’s tremendous sense of direction. I was a small boy when one of our neighbors had a stray dog hanging around his house for several days, and it did not look healthy.

Fearing for his own dog’s health, he put the stray dog in the trunk of his car where it could not see and hauled it about three miles away. Later that same day, the dog was right back in his backyard. Consequently, he thought the dog deserved to stay, and he took care of it.

Research has shown some dogs know when their owners are leaving work and have started home. Hidden cameras have captured dogs going to the front door and wait as their owner has left their job. Dogs have an excellent internal clock, meaning they seem to know what time it is all the time. It would seem relatively normal for a dog to stand by the front door when 5 o’clock rolls around.

The researchers purposely had the owners leave work at random times during the day, and the hidden cameras showed their dogs still going to the front door to wait for them.

I have not tried this test since our dogs go to work with me every day. Whether I am ready or not, Sapphire and Marlo get restless and stand by the back door at 5 o’clock waiting on me to go home at the end of the day. Sometimes it is a long wait.

Sapphire, our golden retriever, does not like thunderstorms. It amazes me when she begins to pace the floor an hour before the storm is even within earshot.

She knows when another dog is sick. Most of the time she lays in my office at work; however, if there is a sick dog in the hospital room, she prefers to lie in a cage in the same place.

Most recently, dogs have gained notoriety for being able to detect cancer in people. Several people have told their stories of how their dogs alerted them to the disease in their body. The dogs most often would lick their owners excessively in an unusual manner. People paid attention to their dogs and went to the doctor for an examination, only for the doctors to diagnose them with cancer.

This phenomenon has prompted research doctors to try to find out exactly how the dogs were able to do this. It became apparent the dogs were sniffing and smell cancer.

Doctors are trying to isolate some unknown protein or chemical that cancer cells release allowing the dogs to smell it. At present, no one knows how dogs can detect cancer.

Maybe there is some strange chemical found in cancer that doctors have never run across before in all their years of cancer research. Maybe dogs do have a sixth sense.

Whatever the case may be, we certainly should pay more attention to our pets and give them a little more credit than we usually do.

Marlo, our Yorkie, was barking excessively one evening recently, which is not unusual. In this case, she was trying to tell us that one of our kids had forgotten to let Sapphire back in the house. We should have listened to her.

Dogs are smarter than we think, and they may even possess an extra sixth sense.

If your dog is not acting like itself, it may be trying to tell you something, and you should see your veterinarian as soon as possible to ensure your dog lives a long, healthy and happy life.

Dr. Jeff Castle is a veterinarian at Clark County Veterinary Clinic.