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Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home [Paperback]

Rupert Sheldrake
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 26 2011 0307885968 978-0307885968 Upd Rev
Many people who have ever owned a pet will swear that their dog or cat or other animal has exhibited some kind of behavior they just can't explain. How does a dog know when its owner is returning home at an unexpected time? How do cats know when it is time to go to the vet, even before the cat carrier comes out? How do horses find their way back to the stable over completely unfamiliar terrain? And how can some pets predict that their owners are about to have an epileptic fit?

These intriguing questions about animal behavior convinced world-renowned biologist Rupert Sheldrake that the very animals who are closest to us have much to teach us about biology, nature, and consciousness.

Filled with captivating stories and thought-provoking analysis, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home is a groundbreaking exploration of animal behavior that will profoundly change the way we think about animals, and ourselves. After five years of extensive research involving thousands of people who own and work with animals, Sheldrake conclusively proves what many pet owners already know -- that there is a strong connection between humans and animals that lies beyond present-day scientific understanding.
With a scientist's mind and an animal lover's compassion, Sheldrake compellingly demonstrates that we and our pets are social animals linked together by invisible bonds connecting animals to each other, to their owners, and to their homes in powerful ways. Sheldrake's provocative ideas about these social, or morphic, fields explain the uncanny behavior often observed in pets and help provide an explanation for amazing animal behavior in the wild, such as migration and homing.

Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home not only provides fascinating insight into animal, and human, behavior, but also teaches us to question the boundaries of conventional scientific thought. This remarkable book deserves a place next to the most beloved and valuable books on animals, such as When Elephants Weep, Dogs Never Lie About Love, and The Hidden Life of Dogs.

From the Hardcover edition.

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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; skeptical 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 rigor 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 with our scientist friends.

Sheldrake has shown in the past that he is not afraid to be labeled a rebel, thanks to his theory of morphic resonance, which suggests the following:

Natural systems, or morphic units, at all levels of complexity are animated, organized, and coordinated by morphic fields, which contain an inherent memory. Natural systems inherit this collective memory from all previous things of their kind by a process called morphic resonance, with the result that patterns of development and behavior become increasingly habitual through repetition.

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

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 that 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.

This fascinating book is a first attempt at a scientific investigation into a puzzling but quite common occurrence. 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.

From Publishers Weekly

While there have been many books on pets' psychic powers and on animals' seemingly paranormal abilities, English biologist Sheldrake's distinctive contribution is to set forth a theory that begins to make sense of this baffling realm. Sheldrake's bold and influential hypothesis of morphic fields (first developed in his 1988 book The Presence of the Past) asserts that members of a group are linked by self-organizing regions of influenceAfields that have a history, evolve, contain a collective memory, and shape the development of organisms, crystals and new ideas, as well as patterns of behavior, adaptation and learning. Applying this hypothesis to the animal kingdom, he maintains that cats, dogs, horses, rabbits and other animals can communicate telepathically with people (or with other animals) with whom they have emotional bondsAand that morphic fields act as a channel for this ESP. Sheldrake surveyed or interviewed more than 1000 pet owners, dog trainers, veterinarians, zookeepers, blind people with guide dogs, horse trainers and riders and pet-shop proprietors. His study is filled with marvelous stories of missing pets finding their way home over unfamiliar terrain; of cats and dogs responding emotionally, sometimes at a great distance, to the suffering or death of their owners; of animals' precognitive warnings of earthquakes, impending epileptic seizures, bombing attacks and other imminent dangers; of cats, dogs and parrots responding to the ring of the telephone whenever a particular person calls. Skeptics may scoff, yet the cumulative weight of evidence Sheldrake assembles is impressive, and an appendix outlines simple research projects animal lovers can conduct to test whether their pets have psychic powers. This pioneering study throws a floodlight on an area largely ignored by institutional science. Illustrations. Author tour. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few things you should know about this book March 18 2010
By A Customer
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.


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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making science a quality social experience Feb. 25 2008
By Brian Griffith TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Discusses the power of the analog mind! Dec 3 2003
By A Customer
This book discusses the type of consciousness that makes us experience a sense of "we" rather than "you" and "me". It is the part that some scholars call the analog mind. It connects the consciousness of people through consciousness rather than any physical medium. We have all experienced things like this before but can not logically explain this because logic involves a separate part of the mind that is completely the opposite of this type of functioning, the digital mind. For an understanding of the basics of these two functions of the mind, read "The Ever-Transcending Spirit" by Toru Sato. For an understanding of the this seemingly psychic phenomena, read this book! Although this book hardly gives us all of the answers, it is at least asking some very interesting questions. If you are not ready to digest this type of material, wait a few years, if takes time to let go of our defensiveness. It takes time to open up to ideas that radically change our view of the world. Hopefully there will come a time when at least we will ponder this as a possibility. If you are ready to entertain such seemingly radical ideas, enjoy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid Oct. 14 2003
I am quite desolate when I read apriori comments about the book (although, only a few seem to be this time). Nevertheless, 'I know this cannot be,' or 'most doctors wouldn't agree,' etc. etc. apriori arguing always irks me. Read the book before speculating what it might say.
The numbers are there and this is what I was looking for. Rupert Sheldrake is the classic, dry, British author, arguing something very exciting and not at all dry. Nevertheless, he is able to explain himself well. However, quantative analysis are really where the argument either stands up or falls apart. Thankfully, the argument is well supported; while some may lament the sample size, which was not awful but not great either, it is important to note that getting funds for this kind of work is harder than theoretical mathematics, so Sheldrake cannot really be blamed.
Sheldrake's work is just another layer on the ESP debate; I am fairly convinced ESP exists--most striking experminets are probably the RNG experiments (because they are the easiest conduct properly, scientifcally, and without bias). However, Sheldrake's work is every bit as important as it begs the question where conscioussness resides. The numbers in this book certainly seem to suggest that the answer may not be as simple as previously imagined.
One should probably read the Consciouss Universe by Dean Radin beforehand, which established more general research questions and designes.
Finally, Sheldrake has a website, in which he addresses not only this research, but also research not yet published in his books. Furthermore, he has a full section dedicated to 'controversies' his work has caused. Well worth a read for the open mind. The website is: [...]
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique phenomena in search of scientific reasoning...
Any of us who have been in close contact with animals, both household and/or woodland, are aware of a level of environmental awareness that they possess that is fully absent in... Read more
Published on July 16 2012 by Ronald W. Maron
1.0 out of 5 stars shoddy science
What a disappointment. Some of the "science" here wouldn't pass muster in a high school science fair. Read more
Published on May 23 2004 by David Group
2.0 out of 5 stars I have trouble respecting mediocre writers
The fact is that he's dealing with interesting material. We all want to believe in something like this. I know I do. But will a book like this convince me? It won't. Read more
Published on March 13 2003 by Bruce R
5.0 out of 5 stars This author shows great courage.
Animal lovers, especially those who share strong emotional bonds with their pets, are well aware of the special powers that a lot of animals possess. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2003 by Millie Mom
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible!
I was skeptical at the claims this book was making until my dog figured out that whole Clinton/Lewinsky thing. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2002 by Derek G
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Convinced
First let me say, parts of the book are rather dry. Perhaps that's the scientist doing his best to provide adequate proof. I found myself wanting to say, come on already... Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2002 by F. C. Boyd
Alot of "Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home" reads as if the author did not speak and write English as a first language. Read more
Published on Jan. 19 2002 by MOVIE MAVEN
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Informative
Sheldrake has spent a lifetime studying animals but looks outside the box of conventional wisdom in this engaging book about family pets. Read more
Published on Nov. 22 2000 by Richard R
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVED THIS BOOK
This is a delightful, readable book that combines a love for animals with real research into psychic connections between humans and animals. Read more
Published on July 12 2000 by Theresa Welsh
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