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Saturday, July 16, 2016

My Friend Elvis

This post has nothing to do with chess. 

     Several years ago we had a mutt of a dog named Brandy. As dogs go she was not very smart, but friendly and loveable. Brandy (now deceased) used to spend nice days lounging in the back yard and chasing away whatever critters attempted to venture out of the woods behind our house and into her domain: deer, racoons, possums and stray cats. 
     One day I noticed Brandy laying next to her food dish oblivious to an animal of some sort that was eating out of it. As I approached I saw it was a large gray cat that promptly scampered off when I got near. But, the cat kept coming around to eat whatever Brandy had left and I named it "Elvis." Over a period of time the cat let me approach and pet it. That's when I discovered that Elvis was actually a girl cat, but the name stuck. 
     For several years now when the weather is nice Elvis is in our back yard nearly every morning. A neighbor told me she actually belongs to an elderly lady who lives several houses down across the street. It would appear that sometimes Elvis spends the night in the woods and sometimes at home. Some mornings she shows up late, around 8 or 9 in the morning. Sometimes, like yesterday, she was sleeping on the picnic table at 4:30am.
     Whenever I walk out the door she runs to greet me and begins the most raucous purring I've ever heard and gets her belly-rub. Then, if she spent the night outside, she's ready for a hearty breakfast; if she spent the night at home, she doesn't want anything except her catnip treat. There are other times if I am outside and she sees me, she comes running...not for food, just for some attention. 
     Yesterday my wife left for work and called me to ask if Elvis was still in the back yard and when I looked, she was gone. That's when my wife informed me that there was a dead cat that looked like it could be Elvis lying in the street just around the corner. It was with a sad heart that I drove around the corner with the intention of bringing my friend back home for a proper burial. I didn't think it was right that she should be carrion for the buzzards. Imagine my relief when I found out it was actually a small raccoon that had been run over. The buzzards ate good yesterday! 
     After returning home I was out back watering the tomatoes when guess who came out of the woods and came scampering across the back yard? I sat down at the picnic table and she jumped in my lap and after some petting, she jumped down and headed back into the woods. What a relief! But, I wonder. Did she somehow sense that I had been worried about her and just wanted to let me know she was OK? 
     According to a recent poll from the Associated Press and Petside.com, two-thirds of Americans with pets say their pets have some unknown way of sensing things that we don’t. Forty-three percent say their dogs, cats, fish and other animals know when bad news is on the way. 
     There’s no question that animals are attuned to many things that escape our attention. Dogs can anticipate seizures and detect certain forms of cancer, low blood sugar and other medical problems, probably due to their remarkable sense of smell. See my post Dogs Bust a Grumpy Facing North
     And they can sense earthquakes by sensing subtle changes in the earth and atmosphere, but what about tsunamis where the quake can be thousands of miles away? When the big tsunami hit South Asia in 2004, much of the wildlife near the coasts had already begun heading for the high ground long before the wave came ashore. 
     In the Alps there is evidence that before avalanches the mountain animals come down and get out of the way. During the Second World War it was reported that a lot of dogs and cats in England gave their owners warning of German air raids at least half an hour before the bombing began when the planes would still have been 150 to 200 miles away. It couldn’t just have been hearing because the wind was often blowing in the wrong direction. 
     It must be that there is an element of precognition involved. Food for thought.

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