Animal ESP

Much anecdotal evidence exists to suggest that animals have ESP (extrasensory perception), also known as animal psi or anpsi. For example, there are many tales of animals showing distress when their owner dies, even though the owner is many miles away. In one of the most famous instances of this, the pet terrier of Lord Carnarvon (the sponsor of an archaeological expedition that discovered the tomb of the Egyptian king Tutankhamen) let out a piercing howl and died at the same moment his owner died, even though Lord Carnarvon was in Egypt and the terrier was in London. There are also many examples of pets apparently knowing when their owners are about to arrive home, even when this arrival is unexpected, and of lost pets successfully finding their owners, not at home but in an unfamiliar place.

There seem to have been cases of animals having this sort of connection with another animal as well. For example, in his 1976 book Talking with Horses, Henry Blake talks about “empathic pairs”: two horses whose minds seem linked. He tested this mental link in a variety of experiments. In one experiment, he took one member of an empathic pair to a distant place and fed it at unusual times. Each time, the other member of the pair would suddenly act hungry as well, whereas the other horses in Blake’s stable had no such reaction.

Sceptics criticize such studies for being unscientific and argue that the animals in such tests are responding to subtle clues provided by the humans around them. This was the case with Pikki, a fox terrier whose psychic abilities were tested by Dr. W. Bechterer in the early 1920s. Pikki was asked to find certain objects using only directions that had been sent telepathically, but eventually his successes were attributed to unintentional but discernible gestures by the people supposedly sending the mental messages. The same situation occurred with a horse named Clever Hans in Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century; this animal was supposedly able to do mathematics and answer “yes” or “no” questions. In actuality, he was picking up on subconsciously delivered cues from his owner.

See Also:

  • Clever Hans Phenomenon
  • Extrasensory Perception
  • Telepathy


The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning