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Testing a Return-Anticipating Dog, Kane

Anthrozo÷s, 13(4), 2000

by Rupert Sheldrake and Pamela Smart


ABSTRACT

Many dog owners claim that their animals know when a member of the household is coming home, typically showing their anticipation by waiting at a door or window. In previous trials with a dog called Jaytee, recorded on videotape, it was found that he anticipated his owner's arrival more than ten minutes in advance, even when she was returning in unfamiliar vehicles such as taxis, when the people at home did not know when to expect her, and when she set off at randomly-selected times. This paper describes the results of a pre-planned series of ten videotaped trials with a dog called Kane, a Rhodesian ridgeback, who was said to wait by a window while his owner was on the way home. The window-area was filmed continuously while the dog's owner went to places more than 8 km away and came home at a variety of non-routine times, some of which were selected at random and communicated to her by a telephone pager. The time-coded videotapes were scored blind by a third party. In nine out of ten trials Kane spent most time at the window when his owner was on the way home. On average he was at the window 26 percent of the time while she was returning, and only one percent of the time throughout the rest of her absence. This difference was highly significant statistically. Possible explanations for this behavior are discussed.

«2000 Intemational Society for Anthrozoology

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