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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few things you should know about this book
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...
Published on March 18 2010

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1.0 out of 5 stars Dogs Who Don't Know When They're Owners Come Home
I recently saw the 20/20 episode concerning this book. While doctors agree that animals have some senses about their owners, a test they aired proved that most dogs do not know when they're owners are coming home. The episode showed one camera on a pet, and the other camera with the pet's owners. This particular dog waited by the window for hours, so , of course,...
Published on Sept. 28 1999


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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
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. While Sheldrake thinks it wise to hold a degree of scepticism until things can be verifed by experiment, in reality most of these so-called 'sceptics' adhere to what he calls "compulsive scepticism, which stems from the dogma that telepathy is impossible." This, of course, is not a scientific attitude. It is actively anti-scientific.

When one of Sheldrake's experiments with a dog called Jaytee was repeated by a noted sceptic of the paranormal, Dr. Richard Wiseman, Wiseman's findings corroborated those of Sheldrake.

Sheldrake acknowledges with regard to some species that more research needs to be done in the wild with their close relatives, to see how these anticipatory abilities evolved. He knows of no instances of such behaviour in pet fish, reptiles, amphibians or insects, so it may be limited to warm blooded animals.

It is exhibited by some humans, too, especially those who live in a close relationship to the natural world, such as Kalahari bushmen. Even in modern Western cities it is not unknown among babies. And there is a phenomenon the Norwegians call 'vardøger', where someone's unexpected arrival is preceded by a 'phantom' arrival, who makes identical noises (footsteps in the hall etc.)

SENSE OF DIRECTION:

Despite much research, it is still unknown how birds such as pigeons home. Landmarks and memory and sun position play no part, as experiments have shown, and nor does the earth's magnetic field.

Tribal peoples possess a similar directional ability, one famous example being the Raiatean chieftain Captain Cook took with him on his travels, who was always able to point the direction in which his home lay. This homing sense has atrophied in modern people, but it still exists (in some more than others).

Migration, too, is not fully explained, and Sheldrake argues that theories of genetic programming can't adequately account for it. If you want his arguments in detail you'll have to buy the book, but in summary (1) such a rigid system wouldn't allow for being blown off course etc. (2) the nature of genetic evolution wouldn't allow for sudden adaption, and (3) it would have to be magnetic, and the magnetic field constantly shifts. Furthermore the poles completely reverse every 250,000 years or so: "Since all migratory animals today are the descendants of ancestors that have survived some 80 magnetic reversals, all must have had ancestors capable of reaching their goals in spite of reversals in the earth's magnetic polarity."

If the genetic theory was true, changes in migratory habits would only take place over many generations, but in reality new races can emerge very rapidly. This fits better with Sheldrake 'morphic fields' hypothesis than with the genetic determinist view.

PREMONITIONS:

Sheldrake admits the morphic field hypothesis does not prove so useful in cases of premonition. He himself he finds the idea of telepathy easier to accept than that of precognition, which he finds philosophically disturbing.

Animal premonitions seem to challenge our 'traditional' ideas on causality, hence many people are sceptical. But the Chinese have adopted a more pragmatic approach, and many lives have saved there by taking heed of animal earthquake warnings.

Sheldrake advocates a similar system for earthquake prone places like California. Pet owners would phone a hotline if their pets were behaving strangely, and if a significant number of calls were registered in one area, evacuation plans could be considered. Obviously it would have to be tested first, to avoid false alarms which could set back research on the subject, but overall the idea is a good one, and a typical example of Sheldrake's pragmatic approach to science.

Sheldrake provides a helpful section at the end containing tips on how to conduct research and experiment with your own pets.

He also gives references to successful experiments in human telepathy, which have been independently replicated. When Richard Dawkins conducted a discussion with Sheldrake for a TV show, and claimed there is no substantive evidence for telepathy, Sheldrake proceeded to point out that there is...and Dawkins turned the camera off! The interview was then dropped from the finished program (an internet search on 'Dawkins Sheldrake' will give the full story behind this incident).

The book also contains an appendix summarising briefly Sheldrake's theory of morphic fields (treated in greater depth in his books 'A New Science of Life' and 'The Presence of the Past'). Some of this is updated material not found in the previous books, including the assertion that morphic resonance better explains the findings of Chomsky and Pinker than the theory that language structure is genetically determined.
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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 (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
(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
By 
Alan Wilder (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
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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5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Convinced, Aug. 11 2002
By 
F. C. Boyd "Carson" (Tempe, AZ) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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... I accept your arguent, give me some more stories.
With that said, I did enjoy the book and find Sheldrake's proof more than adequate. Many animals are sensitive in ways we don't understand.
There was a story, from the book, of someone who was going to commit suicide by overdose. When they went to open the bottle, their springer spaniel jumped in their lap, bearing it's teeth and growling fiercly. The person was so shaken that they put the pills away, at which point, the springer jumped back in the lap and happily lapped at their owners face.
I knew of a young girl who was walking home, down a deserted street, when a sedan approached with a man demanding that she get in the car. She began to walk faster... the car sped up... the demands became angrier... The car stopped, and a man got out and came towards her... She said the only preyer she could think of at the time. "God, please help me." Suddenly two dogs appeared and began barking at the man. Shaken, but not disuaded, he reached for the girl, and a beagle juped up and bit his wrist. That was enough, the man got back into the car and it sped off.
It has been over 6 years since that incident and the girl still goes to the farmhouse near where this happened to visit Molly and Dolly.
By the way, that was not their names when all of this happened... You see, no one had ever seen these two dogs before... before that fateful night when a young girls prayer was answered... by two dogs who appeared from nowhere.
This story was related by Paul Harvey on his program *The Rest of the Story* December 8, 1999
Have you ever found yourself staring at someone and they turn and look directly at you. How do they do that? How do pigeons find their way home from hundreds of miles away? How do some dogs react when their owner merely has the thought of coming home?
Good questions.
This book doesn't provide all the answers, but it establishes the reality which is a significant step.
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4.0 out of 5 stars STIMULATING AND JUST SHOCKING ENOUGH, Jan. 19 2002
By 
MOVIE MAVEN (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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. Alot of this book reads like a medical journal. That being said, alot of this book will astound and delight anyone who has even a slight fondness for animals...not just dogs, mind you, but all animals.
Most of the stories in the book are about dogs, but as a cat owner and lover, I was pleased to find enough anecdotes about felines who knew the exact time when their owners were going to come home, who knew the person on the other end of a telephone and who knew that their owners were in some kind of grave physical or emotional trouble. There are pets in this book who, we are told, knew that a human diabetic or epileptic fit was on the horizon and we even read of pets who could sniff out cancerous lesions. There are tales of horses, fish, termites, monkeys and more with telepathic powers.
Pet owners from all over the world were obviously eager to relate their stories to Rupert Sheldrake, even those whose stories are terribly sad in the extreme: animals who, through their own mysterious telepathy, knew of the deaths of people close to them or even of the owners, themselves, who knew, from very far distances, that their pets were in harm's way.
True, some of the stories are weird enough to have been written by the folks living on Planet Xerbo, but enough are them are stimulating and just shocking enough to make believers of us all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Informative, Nov. 22 2000
Sheldrake has spent a lifetime studying animals but looks outside the box of conventional wisdom in this engaging book about family pets. He suggests that the animals we know best, the cats and dogs who live in our homes, can teach us the most. He looks closely at several categories of oft-reported -but sometimes disregarded- types of animal behavior: predicting when their owners will return home, empathy, telepathy, sense of direction, and premonitions. Using replicable and rigorous experimental methods he demonstrates that something indeed is going on here, something they can not be easily described by conventional explanations. Sheldrake posits psychic connections that he calls "morphic bonds" exist among some creatures, including bees in a hive and schools of fish, and may well exist between some animals and the humans closest to them. Sheldrake clearly explains that such bonds do not occur among all pets or even among the same pets in all situations, but they definitely do seem to exist.
This is a fun book for animal-lovers, full of engaging anecdotes about dogs, cats, horses, and birds who enjoy strong emotional bonds with their owners that allow them to accomplish seemingly-unbelievable feats. But it is also an eye-opening book, for Sheldrake has applied some scientific techniques to both debunk fraudulent claims and to confirm those that have no conventional explanation. His "morphic bonds" are persuasive, especially to those who have lived closely with animals and observed their behavior in close quarters.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I'm Convinced, Dec 9 1999
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... I accept your arguent, give me some more stories.
With that said, I did enjoy the book and find Sheldrake's proof more than adequate. Many animals are sensitive in ways we don't understand.
There was a story, from the book, of someone who was going to commit suicide by overdose. When they went to open the bottle, their springer spaniel jumped in their lap, bearing it's teeth and growling fiercly. The person was so shaken that they put the pills away, at which point, the springer jumped back in the lap and happily lapped at their owners face.
I knew of a young girl who was walking home, down a deserted street, when a sedan approached with a man demanding that she get in the car. She began to walk faster... the car sped up... the demands became angrier... The car stopped, and a man got out and came towards her... She said the only preyer she could think of at the time. "God, please help me." Suddenly two dogs appeared and began barking at the man. Shaken, but not disuaded, he reached for the girl, and a beagle juped up and bit his wrist. That was enough, the man got back into the car and it sped off.
It has been over 6 years since that incident and the girl still goes to the farmhouse near where this happened to visit Molly and Dolly.
By the way, that was not their names when all of this happened... You see, no one had ever seen these two dogs before... before that fateful night when a young girls prayer was answered... by two dogs who appeared from nowhere.
This story was related by Paul Harvey on his program *The Rest of the Story* December 8, 1999
Have you ever found yourself staring at someone and they turn and look directly at you. How do they do that? How do pigeons find their way home from hundreds of miles away? How do some dogs react when their owner merely has the thought of coming home?
Good questions.
This book doesn't provide all the answers, but it establishes the reality which is a significant step.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Alabama reader: you should read the book before reviewing it, Oct. 3 1999
By A Customer
I've found the book a very convincing and well-researched description of this phenomenon. I saw the 20/20 episode about this book and it seemed very clear that the dog was reacting to the owner's intention to return, though it wasn't obvious if that was an unusual occurrence. If you read the book, it is clear that the dog is not just sitting by the window the whole time. The percentage of time that the dog spent by the window was measured for each 10-minute interval in the entire time the owner was gone. The dog spent an insignificant amount of time at the window before the owner decided to return home, and a significantly larger amount of time afterward, far more than could be expected by random chance. The data was collected from the videotapes by someone who was unfamiliar with the details of the expirement and thus wouldn't be likely to expect a particular result. I will agree that "most" dogs do not know when they are coming home, but the fact that some do is very surprising.
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5.0 out of 5 stars On the Provability of Unexplained Animal Powers, Sept. 20 1999
By A Customer
This book is a must for all of you who have "always marveled at your pet's unexplained powers, but have never dared inquired about them." Indeed, there was no one to consult. Institutional science dismisses these many instances as chancy, or explains them away in a mechanistic fashion; and the only other explanations were thus far provided by folk legends and superstitions. Unfailingly picturesque, but more often than not whimsical. DOGS THAT KNOW WHEN THEIR OWNERS ARE COMING HOME, an elaboration of the author's groundbreaking SEVEN EXPERIMENTS THAT COULD CHANGE THE WORLD, addresses just such questions, after years of painstaking research and the accumulation of convincing evidence.
This is far and away Dr. Sheldrake's most accessible book to date, which is not to say it is a vulgarization. Far from it. In his characteristically sober yet charming prose, he has miraculously dodged the danger of compiling a list, but has rather presented the world with an anthology of mind-expanding instances of powers of animals. Some ideas are particularly compelling, such as "an animal-based earthquake warning system". Once more, he deals a blow to institutional science by beating it on its own turf, and that is, by piling up impressive evidence, a database, etc., so as to substantiate his claims. In all likelihood, many more "cases" will be added to his database after the general public has read this book. Perhaps tens of thousands. If institutional science will continue to ignore these phenomena, rather than join the author in the research, it will have de facto discredited itself in the eyes of the world. The Appendices are also valuable, C in particular, in which the author provides the Cliff's Notes to his own books. The concepts he summarizes are so fascinating that they should prompt the unfamiliar reader to read all his books, where the ideas are given the space they deserve.
Dr. Sheldrake's overall aim to resacralize the world is well-served by this book. Most pet owners have always felt there was something "more" or "other" to their pets than mere companions. This book will confirm their hunch, and prompt further investigations. Indeed, as the author says, "We have a great deal to learn from our companion animals."
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Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home
Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home by Rupert Sheldrake (Paperback - April 26 2011)
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