What is an Animal Familiar?

What is an Animal Familiar?

By , About.com

In some traditions of modern Wicca and Paganism, the concept of an animal familiar is incorporated into practice. Today, a familiar is often defined as an animal with whom we have a magical connection, but in truth, the concept is a bit more complex than this.

History of the Familiar

During the days of the European witch hunts, familiars were “said to be given to witches by the devil,” according to Rosemary Guiley’s Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft. They were, in essence, small demons which could be sent out to do a witch’s bidding. Although cats — especially black ones — were the favored vessel for such a demon to inhabit, dogs, toads, and other small animals were sometimes used.

In some Scandinavian countries, familiars were associated with spirits of the land and nature. Fairies, dwarves, and other elemental beings were believed to inhabit the physical bodies of animals. Once the Christian church came along, this practice went underground — because any spirit other than an angel must be a demon. During the witch-hunt era, many domestic animals were killed because of their association with known witches and heretics.

During the Salem witch trials, there is little account of the practice of animal familiars, although one man was charged with encouraging a dog to attack by way of magical means. The dog, interestingly enough, was tried, convicted, and hanged.

In shamanistic practices, the animal familiar is not a physical being at all, but a thought-form or spiritual entity. It often travels astrally, or serves as a magical guardian against those who might try to psychically attack the shaman.

Today, many Wiccans and Pagans have an animal companion that they consider their familiar – and most people no longer believe that these are spirits or demons inhabiting an animal. Instead, they have an emotional and psychic bond with the cat, dog, or whatever, who is attuned to the powers of its human partner.

Finding a Familiar

Not everyone has, needs, or even wants a familiar. If you have an animal companion as a pet, such as a cat or dog, try working on strengthening your psychic connection with that animal. Books such as Ted Andrews’ Animal Speak contain some excellent pointers on how to do this.

If an animal has appeared in your life unexpectedly — such as a stray cat that appears regularly, for instance — it’s possible that it may have been drawn to you psychically. However, be sure to rule out mundane reasons for its appearance first. If you’re leaving out food for the local feral kitties, that’s a far more logical explanation. Likewise, if you see a sudden influx of birds, consider the season — is the ground thawing, making food more available?

If you’d like to draw a familiar to you, some traditions believe you can do this by meditation. Find a quiet place to sit undisturbed, and allow your mind to wander. As you journey, you may encounter various people or objects. Focus your intent on meeting an animal companion, and see if you come into contact with any.

In addition to familiars, some people do magical work with what’s called a power animal or a spirit animal. A power animal is a spiritual guardian that some people connect with. However, much like other spiritual entities, there’s no rule or guideline that says you must have one. If you happen to connect with an animal entity while meditating or performing astral travel, then that may be your power animal or it may just be curious about what you’re up to.

Need to Simplify? Take the Mind Clutter Quiz!

Need to Simplify? Take the Mind Clutter Quiz!

Many of us love the feeling of clearing out the clutter from our homes. But given the frantic pace of many of our lives, perhaps some mental simplifying is in order, too!

Do you think you might benefit from clearing away some mind clutter? Take this simple quiz to find out:

1. Are you a “worrier”?

2. Is your mind constantly troubled by all the things on your mental “To Do” list?

3. Do you ever chastise yourself for “wasting time,” or talk about time as if there is not enough of it to go around, as in: “Sorry, I don’t have time,” “I wish there were more time,” “Time got away from me,” etc. and so on.

4. Do you take your little child or dog for a walk and then find yourself tugging at your child’s hand or the dog’s leash and saying “Come on!” (The author has made a study of the people who walk their dogs up and down the lane outside her cottage and how many times they say “Come on!” to their dogs. Usually it is overtime the dogs stop to sniff something. Yet the walk is supposed to be for the benefit of the dog. Go figure!)

5. Do you use the word “busy” a lot, e.g. do you find yourself telling others about how busy you are, or using the excuse “I was/am too busy”?

6. Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by your own life?

7. Do you spend most of your time either re-hashing the past or rehearsing for the future and find it difficult to keep you mind full yon the “now”?

8. Do you find it almost impossible to sit still and do nothing?

9. Does your mind sometimes feel so overloaded with thoughts that it is hard to focus on just one thing?

10. Do you lie awake thinking at night?

If you find yourself saying “yes” to all or most of these questions, it is likely that you need to do some mental simplifying. (Most of us do.) To live in a world of mental simplicity, we can try to make an effort to stay aware of the present moment and to spend as little time as possible re-hashing the past and/or rehearsing the future. It takes practice, but little by little you will see what a difference this can make!

 

 

Power Animal: Dog

DOG

DOG’s medicine includes loyalty, protection.

“DOG, TEACH ME THE IMPORTANCE OF LOYALTY.

SHOE ME THE JOY OF BLIND LOVE.

I FOLLOW MY HEART TO SEE THE UNSEEN.”

Dog is a watcher and protector. He is loyal and trustworthy. Dog is true to himself and lets nobody change his values. His love is absolute and unconditional. Once you have befriended Dog, you have made a friend and guardian for life.

A Dog person is kind and caring. There is nothing Dog won’t do to help their family and friends. Dog doesn’t ask for anything in return for its services as watcher and protector. A gentle touch, a kind word or a friendly gesture has more meaning then money or material treasures. A Dog person also has a tendency to “smell” something bad – they sense trouble from a distance and can tell when a person has evil intentions simply by being near them.

The down side of Dog is that he can be too trusting, allowing himself to be taken advantage of. If you are a Dog person, do not let yourself be walked all over. Don’t let others abuse your generous and loyal nature.

Quiz of the Day: What Does Your Dog’s Breed Say About You?

What Does My Dog’s Breed Say About Me?

In my book It’s a Dog’s Life … but It’s Your  Carpet,  I admit, I make some pretty huge generalizations about breeds  and pet  owners. Granted, they’re my own opinions, but if you really wanted to   know what your veterinarian thinks of you when you walk in the door with  your  breed of dog, read on!

Labrador Retriever

Dedicated, outdoorsy, loyal, and generally a good person to be around. Shops  at REI. Drives a Subaru.

Chihuahua

May bite. The dog too.

Greyhound

Kind, mild mannered. Has neurotic tendencies. Gentle. Laid back. Drinks  bottled water. Often looks like the dog.

Miniature Poodle

Usually owned by a sweet, old, white-haired person.

Terrier

Potential to be a loyal, family-oriented person. Can be snarky and have an  east-coast attitude.

Golden Retriever

Family oriented and generally a good person to be around. Has two or three  human babies.

Miniature Schnauzer

Family oriented. Owned by older adults. Shops at LL Bean and Lands’ End.  Drives a Volvo.

Yorkshire Terrier

Likes to carry a YSL or Gucci purse, often with their pet in it. Enjoys the  high life. Drinks wine, not beer.

Rottweiler

Bad ass. Loyal. Protective. Doesn’t want to be screwed with.

Maltese

Either wants to have a child or have grandchildren. Loves to nurture   and  carry loved ones in arms. Very well dressed. Likes pink bows.

Beagle

Family oriented. High tolerance level for baying.

Bernese Mountain

Financially secure. Educated. Shops at REI, Best Buy, and Nordstroms.

****

What? Don’t believe me? What do you think? Does your breed represent you?

And yes, I purposely skipped stereotyping us American pit bull terrier  dog  owners. But as a veterinary student once said to me: “Dr. Lee … you  look just  like your dog.”

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Daily Feng Shui News for Jan. 29th – ‘Seeing Eye Dog Day’

I’m going to put a little twist on today’s ‘Seeing Eye Dog Day.’ If your dog loves to ride in the car with their head hanging out the window, from time to time you may notice that their eyes will get inflamed. Dampen a soft and lint free cloth and carefully clean out the dog’s eyes. Then place a drop of castor oil in each eye. Do this twice a day until the inflammation has gone away and the dog’s eyes are normal again. See, I told you — a new spin on ‘Seeing Eye’ dogs.

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com

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Are We Killing Our Pets With Treats?

Are We Killing Our Pets With Treats?

Nearly 600 dogs have died since 2007 who consumed pet jerky treats made in  China, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Another 3,600 dogs have been  reported ill. The pet treats were sold under a wide variety of brand names.

The FDA currently does not know the cause of this outbreak and is reaching  out to veterinary health professionals, as well as the public, for answers to  help solve the mystery. Since the FDA is unable to determine the cause, no  recall has been put in place, meaning pet owners need to make more educated  decisions about what pet treats are safe to use.

I recently spoke with pet nutrition expert Anthony Bennie about the outbreak.  He provided some insight and helpful knowledge on feeding our pets healthy  treats.

LS: How long do you think this has been going on?

AB: It’s been going on since it became evident that it’s possible to sell  really cheap versions of what people want here. It’s one thing to copy  electronics, another to copy pet treats. When you take the theory of cheapest  practices and apply that to what you put in your animals’ mouths, it is a recipe  for disaster.

LS: What do you think caused the recent outbreak, with number of death and illnesses still on the rise?

AB: Irradiation (the process of exposing pet food and treats to  radiation as a means of eliminating foodborne microbes and killing pests) and glycerin (a humectant preservative) in virtually all pet treats from  China in pet treats from China. There have been issues with pet  food ingredients and finished treats from China for quite some time, including  the massive recalls in 2007 that were traced to melamine, a non-edible protein  additive used in China to adulterate and cheapen the products.

LS: Have there been studies done on the dangers of using glycerin and  irradation together?

AB: The use of both glycerin and irradiation in the same product is  troubling to me. No proper studies have been done to determine the possible  synergistic effects. For the health and safety of your pets, as a first step I  strongly encourage pet guardians to buy pet treats and foods made and sourced in  the USA; but even then, be a detailed label reader and avoid products with  chemical preservatives or other ingredients that you can’t pronounce and don’t  recognize as foods.

LS: The FDA made a recent statement that treats aren’t a necessary part of a  fully balanced canine diet. Honestly, I was  appalled by the ignorance of this statement. In addition to the nutritional  value,  my dogs are paid and rewarded well with treats. Nobody wants to work for free, including dogs.

AB: Our pets are  an extension of the family, so news like  we’ve been hearing is very  worrisome for any pet guardian. But to make a  statement like this, which  could damage many ethical American pet treat  manufacturers, is bizarre  and unfair. No one is claiming ANY problems with  American made treats.  It would be absurd to allow these fears to stop you from  offering your  pet ANY treats or between meal snacks. Think of your  own energy  level throughout the day; would you want to eat nothing all  day until your  single nightly meal? It’s the same with your animal  companions, who can lose  vitality and playfulness if these ‘pick me ups’  are simply cut out of the diet.  Emotional bonding is also reinforced  when providing healthy snacks to your  pet, and training often involves  food rewards. Give your pet treats and  snacks  in moderation as you always have.  But stick with USA Made, grain  free, low carb, natural snacks that  are dominated by meat protein but  offer a holistic balance with other whole  food nutrients such as flax  and veggies.

LS: I frequently give my dogs fruit and vegetable treats. They love shredded  carrots and cut up apple pieces. When purchasing  healthy treats, what should we look for?

AB: A healthy pet treat that is 100% USA made and sourced, and features   all-natural and wholesome ingredients like USDA inspected chicken and  beef  along with natural cheddar cheese, organic flaxseed, and air dried  vegetables.  My family-owned company, ClearConsciencePet.com, provides that in our dog treats. I  am proud to say that we have won six national awards for nutritional excellence.  People tell us that our Sliders® are like doggy crack. Dogs will do anything for  them.

LS: Thanks Anthony. I can’t wait to have Sanchez and Gina try them too! I’m thrilled that all of  your treats are gluten free, as my dogs are gluten intolerant, and I  don’t always have time to make all of their treats myself.

Do you give your dogs treats/ snacks? Do you look at the package to check the  ingredients and where they are made? Thanks for sharing your stories in a  comment below.

 

 

Pets & Animals Holiday Gift Guide

Pets & Animals Holiday Gift Guide

Any pets, animals, or the people who love them left on your holiday gift list  this season? Care2 Healthy Living has you covered! Check out our  suggestions for pet and animal holiday gifts.

Custom Pet Portraits Customized portraits are a great  way to show your love for your beloved pooch or kitty. Check out these  fabulously vibrant and quirky portraits from artist Zerrin Koch! Contact artist for price quotes.

Sweetie Pie  Treats Dog treats that meet all the standards: healthy, tasty,  and sustainable. Made from anti-oxidant filled sweet potatoes and free-range  chicken, these treats seem to be a favorite of dogs. Feel good about your  purchase — a portion of Bark Stix profits support Greyhound rescue and adoption  groups. $8.95

Hemp Dog  Bones These 100 percent Eco-Friendly Stuffed Hemp Bone Toys  consist of a hemp canvas shell and are stuffed with recycled poly-cotton, making  them an enjoyable chew toy for your pet. Soft, yet firm, these bones are perfect  for tugging, throwing, chewing and snuggling. $8.95

Support  Wildlife Want to honor the animal lover in your life? Give the  gift of preservation and protection of wildlife like polar bearswolves and whales with a gift to the NRDC.

Music to Calm Your Canine Companion, Vol.  1 Have a dog that could use some relaxation? Care2′s very own pet blogger, Lisa Spector, has just the thing for  you. The pieces are “clinically tested to calm dogs, and in many cases, reduce  anxiety.” $14.98

EcoChoices  EcoAnimal also has a variety of toys made out of post-consumer  recycled materials, such as the squeaky turtle posted below.

Zogoflex Dog  Toys Zogoflex differs from other plastics typically used in dog  toys in that it’s engineered to be recyclable and is made from an FDA-approved  material that is safe and non-toxic. Now if Spot gnaws up his Zogoflex frisbee,  his owner can send the broken remainders back to West Paw Design, where they’ll  be ground down, made into a new toy of the owner’s choosing, and returned at no  extra cost. From $8.50

Cool Hemp Dog Collars The cutest dog collars  ever, adjustable and made of hemp. $20.

Green Cat Collars Give the gift of a soft (not  nylon) and eco-friendly collar to your cat–try organic cotton, hemp, recycled  cotton or bamboo. $5-$13.

A Little Humor for Your Day – The Truth About Cats

The Truth About Cats

  • There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.
  • Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.
  • Cats are smarter than dogs. You can’t get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.
  • In a cat’s eye, all things belong to cats.
  • As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat.
  • “One cat just leads to another.” — Ernest Hemingway
  • Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you later.
  • Cats are rather delicate creatures and they are subject to a good many ailments, but I never heard of one who suffered from insomnia.
  • People who hate cats, will come back as mice in their next life.
  • Cats aren’t clean, they’re covered with cat spit.
  • A dog will jump on your lap because he likes you; a cat will jump on your lap because it’s warmer than the floor.

Turok’s Cabana

The Witches Spell for November 26 – Young At Heart Spell

Young At Heart Spell

To stay young at heart no matter your age.

Items Needed:

Red candle

Symbols of youth or enthusiasm (this can be a symbol for any activity that interests you, like a Frisbee or a yo- yo.

Age is not just something that happens to the body; it is also a state of mind. This spell is designed to help you stay young no matter how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.

Light the candle and envision yourself as you were as a child. See yourself now, doing all the activities you enjoy. Then see yourself in the future, but see the child that still exists within you peeking through. Say the spell with enthusiasm!

Young in spirit
Young in heart
Young in practice
From the start
Keep me fresh
And keep me bright
I go not gentle
Into the night.
Young at work
Young at play
Young I feel
And young I’ll stay.

So Mote It Be.

Besom Chant

Witchy Comments
Besom Chant

Besom, besom long and lithe

made from ash and willow withe

Tied with thongs of willow bark

in running stream at moonset dark.

With a pentagram indighted

as the ritual fire is lighted

Sweep ye circle, deosil,

Sweep out evil, sweep out ill,

Make the round of the ground

Where we do the Lady’s will.

Besom, besom, Lady’s broom

Sweep out darkness, sweep out doom

Rid ye Lady’s hallowed ground

Of demons, imps and Hell’s red hound;

Then set ye down on Her green earth

By running stream or Mistress’ hearth,

‘Till called once more on Sabbath night

To cleans once more the dancing site.

A Magickal Touch with Pets

A Magickal Touch with Pets

Author:   Luna 

At the time of writing this, I’m currently on spring break and spending time with my sister and relatives (many of whom I haven’t seen in five years) in the Upper East Coast of the US. It’s been awhile since I’ve been out here, but my Grammy’s house still feels like home. But there’s always been something about her house, our family (both on Mom and Dad’s sides) and my life in general that’s really come to the forefront in the last couple days: pets.

I’ve only been a Witch for a few years now, but I’ve been around pets all my life. Some of my first memories are of my uncle’s first dog, Dillan, a wonderful male border collie. He and I were around the same age, year wise (dogs and cats age faster than humans) , so I guess you could say I basically grew up with him. Then there was Lita, Jazz and Zeer, the three cats my Grammy had for a long time. On Mom’s side, one of my uncles had a golden retriever named Sporty, already old when I first met him. Then came Skye, who my uncle and my then-new aunt got as a companion for Dillan. And their puppies. There were five in all, though my family kept two: Nellie, who belongs to my Grammy, and Burn, who stayed with my uncle and aunt (and her parents) .

When I was about 9 or so, my mom and dad got our first dog: a Portuguese water dog by the name of Georgie. I still remember the first night we had him home. The poor boy hadn’t had a fun time on his flight to us (he never liked planes) , and he came out of his crate scared and sopping wet at home. But it was love at first sight. We dried him up, gave him something to eat and lots of love and petting, and he cheered up. From then on, he was our “choochie.” Or “Chooch, ” as we nicknamed him later on. Sadly, Georgie didn’t live as long as we had hoped. Shortly after he turned five and a half, he began to get sick for the first time. By the time we figured out that it was heart cancer, it was already too late. Georgie was already in the terminal stages and, rather than let him suffer for a few for weeks before death, we gave him a tearful goodbye (even thinking of it now makes me cry) , and we had him euthanized. I was about 14 years old then, but I cried like a baby from losing my best friend.

Despite how much we missed Georgie, we couldn’t bear not having a dog in our lives. Mom noted how she couldn’t bear to wash Georgie’s old nose prints off the living room window. So, after enough mourning time had passed, we went to another breeder and got Annie, a border terrier who was very active in her youth. She loved us, and we loved her dearly, but she seemed lonely without another dog around. So we went back to the same breeder and got her little cousin Iggy as well. Love at first sight, once again. I remember I had just come back from camp and Mom met me and her parents (who had picked me up from camp) at a strip mall on my way home, and there was Iggy, the tiniest little thing I ever laid eyes on. He rode in my lap the entire way home. We’ve been best buds ever since (and he still hasn’t grown up) .

We still have both Iggy and Annie today, despite the fact that my sister and I are both in college and don’t come home too often (Sis lives too far away, and I love my college a lot) . They’re both getting older now. Annie just recently turned 8 and has had three different knee surgeries within the last couple years. You’d never know it if you met her, though: she’s recovered beautifully. And Iggy… I think he’s one of a couple exceptions to the “Dogs age faster than humans” concept. He’s not as small as he once was, but he still looks and acts like a puppy. By the time this is posted on the Witches’ Voice, he’ll be seven years old.

So why do I mention all these dogs and cats? Well, there are two strange stories that go along with this. One is something I figured out a while ago, the other is more recent (like, just happened in the last 48 hours recent, as I’m writing this) . Both of these happened after I came to Wicca and dedicated myself to Witchcraft. You see, as I watched Iggy grow up, I began to notice many of his behaviors mimicked that of our first dog, Georgie. He was especially close to Mom and me, as Georgie had been. He loved popcorn, jumping on the table (well, as close as he could come—border terriers are a lot smaller than Portuguese water dogs) and doing 180-degree jumps. Eventually I began thinking about reincarnation, especially in a Wiccan context.

I remember reading in one of my books that “cats reincarnate too” along with humans. So I thought, “Well, if cats can reincarnate, why can’t dogs?” Over time, I came to the conclusion that Iggy was Georgie’s reincarnation, not only because they were so similar but also enough time had passed between Georgie’s death and Iggy’s conception (Annie was either already in her mom’s tummy or newly born when we lost Georgie) . It seemed like too much of a coincidence. I guess Georgie loved us so much that he couldn’t bear to be away from us. Frankly, if this is the case, I’m glad he came back. My life wouldn’t be the same without him.

The other story literally happened as soon as Grammy and my step-grandpa (long story—she’s still good friends with my Granddad, and I didn’t even know they were divorced until I was nine) brought me back to their house, the same house I mentioned earlier. They still have Nellie, though the rest of her family has passed on to the Summerland. Dillan lived to be sixteen, Skye lived to be thirteen, and Burn lived to be eleven. Nellie’s currently twelve, and Grammy and Grandpa Bill wanted another dog to keep her company. So they brought home a rescue dog named Candy, a little shih tzu who’s now five years old. Now, according to Grammy, Candy’s not usually fond of strangers, and she and I had never met before. However, within the space of five minutes, we bonded. She’ll come for me, she snuggles next to me on the couch, and she lets me pet her. Grammy says I have “the touch” when it comes to animals, and that I’ve become her new best friend.

But it didn’t stop with Candy. My other aunt and uncle on Dad’s side (his sister and brother-in-law) also have a border collie named Daisy. I met Daisy a long time ago, and we got along okay, but it was clear she wanted space between us. I obliged her that. Now, she’s twelve years old as well, and dealing with arthritis, but still well loved by her mommy, daddy and their two children (my younger cousins) . And now Daisy let me pet her and talk to her. Then we went up to my uncle’s house, where we were celebrating another cousin’s (his son’s) birthday. After their dogs passed on to the Summerland, they adopted two cats and recently adopted another border collie—well, Border collie mix– named Maggie (I guess border collies are popular on my dad’s side) . Within five minutes, she was giving me little doggie kisses and following me everywhere. Again, Grammy said I had “the touch” when it came to animals.

Now, I’m still not sure how I feel about Grammy saying this about me. She still doesn’t know I practice Wicca, and this feels like it’s hitting pretty close to home for someone I haven’t told. Still, she might have a point. I’ve been starting to work a little more magick with pets—I remember performing a little color magick for Annie while she was recovering from her knee surgeries—and I try to treat them with as much love and respect as I can. And I’ve begun to pick up on some of the vibes they give off.

For one thing, despite Iggy’s cuteness and love for me, I’ve realized he doesn’t like getting a lot of baby talk. Annie’s the same way, and I can’t say I blame them too much. Some of my family’s other dogs seem to feel the same way. I know they do like it when I talk to them as if I were talking to another human being, despite my sister’s objections to this idea. After reading about faeries from Ellen Dugan’s books, I’ve figured out that, whenever we think Iggy’s barking at nothing, he might be barking at brownies or other fae in our neighbors’ yards. And I’m always able to pick up jealousy vibes from my dogs—if I play catch with Iggy while Annie’s in the same room and not otherwise engaged, she’ll bark angrily and steal the ball. My parents managed to pick up on this too after I mentioned it enough. Always got to remember to give them equal treatment, otherwise one gets jealous and then chaos ensues.

So is Grammy right? Do I have a touch with pets? Are they able to detect that I’m a Witch and maybe feel more comfortable around me? Or do they just sense that I love pets and treat them with love and respect? Maybe all of this is happening. I’m not completely sure myself. All I know is that, whatever this is, I’m glad to have this connection with pets. The God and Goddess have blessed me not only with a loving family, but with a long history of loving pets, perhaps even one that came back through reincarnation to be with us. I earnestly thank them for it, and wish that this connection would stay strong in the years to come.

And to all of you and your pets, canine or feline (or perhaps something completely different) , I wish you all a heart-felt Blessed Be.

5 Incredible Things Dogs Sense About You

5 Incredible Things Dogs Sense About You

For centuries, people have been turning to their beloved pooches for  affection and companionship. And for good reason — dogs are incredibly  perceptive and intelligent creatures. They may not understand the nuances of  everyday life, of course, but dogs have an incredible ability to understand how  their pet parents are feeling emotionally, and even physically.  Indeed, they don’t call ‘em man’s best friend for nothing!

Click through to check out some of the amazing things that your canine friend  can tell about you.

1. They Know if You’re Scared.

Heard something go bump in the night? Dogs can pick up on your fear, and will  usually mimic your behavior. If you’d like to alleviate your dog’s fear, you  need to alleviate your own first! One exception, though, would be the  several breeds that have been, well, bred, to be guard dogs.

2. They Notice Inequality.

Dogs can tell if you’re playing favorites. Let’s say you have two dogs who  both earned a treat for good behavior. If you give a treat to only one, the  other will likely pick up on that, and believe she’s done something wrong. They  can even stop cooperating all together. Perhaps there’s something us humans can  learn from this!

3. They Know Whether or Not You’re Paying  Attention.

Any pet parent with a sneaky pooch knows this one is totally true! The  science backs it up, too: studies have shown that dogs are perfectly aware  whether or not there are any people around, and will behave accordingly. Even  the most well-behaved dog on the block can’t risk temptations when no humans are  around to scold them.

4.  They Can Tell if You’re  Sick.

Dogs have long been prized — and put to work  — for their keen sense of smell. Their noses are thousands of times stronger  than the average human! Just as dogs are trained to sniff for drugs or  explosives, dogs have also been successfully trained to pick up on the extremely  subtle scents our bodies give off when we have cancer. Other dogs have been  trained to alert their pet parents when they’re about to have a seizure minutes  or even hours before an attack will happen– though it’s not entirely clear if  this skill is related to dog’s sense of smell.

5. They Know If You’re Sad.

Does your dog somehow know just what to do when you’re not feeling so happy?  You’re not imagining it — studies have shown that dogs can pick up on your  sadness and are more likely to approach you. One such study placed two people,  one crying and one quiet, in a room. Almost all of the dogs approached the  crying person, and most of those did so with submissive body language — even if  the crying person was a stranger to them. Researchers, though, aren’t entirely  clear on whether this means that dogs fully understand empathy.

Do Dogs See The Supernatural?

Do Dogs See The Supernatural?

Whether folklore or fact, many of us would like to believe that our dogs can  detect unexplained or invisible presences, guided by a canine sixth sense. It’s  exciting, and comforting, to think a favorite dog is sensitive to a departed  relative or friend.

But hard evidence of dogs’ extrasensory perception is elusive and anecdotal.  The 2009 book “Tails of the Afterlife,” by Peggy Schmidt, chronicles multiple  instances of unexplainable actions by dogs who apparently interact with  something, or someone, unseen. For instance, she writes about a woman named Del  Johnsen who left seven dogs and six cats when she passed away. Numerous  witnesses believe she still visits her pets daily, and report seeing the animals  suddenly gather in one spot, cats arching their backs and purring, dogs flopping  over for a belly rub, wriggling in enjoyment, all of them sitting at attention  and staring into the air before resuming their own activities. And Schmidt says  her own Jack Russell terrier Pixie has repeatedly reacted to ghosts present in  local buildings rumored to be haunted.

But your pet’s so-called sixth sense may simply be the result of his keen  hearing, exceptional nose, and a dog’s eye view on the world that allows him to  sense small movements that escape our attention. A dog’s senses are keener, and  different, than ours: His eyes detect more delicate movements; his sense of  smell is 1,000 to 10,000 times more sensitive than a human’s. He can hear much  higher frequencies, and at four times the distance of a human with normal  hearing.

Wild and domestic animals, including dogs, seemed to sense the impending  Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, displaying their distress with behavior changes  and vocal warnings, and either ran for cover or refused to go outside. Some  experts believe they could sense vibrational changes on land from impending the  earthquakes before humans could.

Dogs’ heightened sense of smell is credited with their ability to detect some  cancers in humans. Service dogs who aid seizure-prone people are alert to subtle shifts in body smells and dilated pupils, signs that enable the dogs  to warn their owners of a looming attack.

As for a sixth sense connecting to the supernatural or  paranormal, pet psychologist Marti Miller believes that both dogs and their  owners possess one. “But humans judge or deny what they are feeling,” says  Miller, who is based in Austin, Texas. “Dogs don’t judge what is going on in the  environment. While our own minds start to analyze what is happening, dogs don’t  do that. They feel the barometric pressure change, and may react by shaking,  panting, salivating and feeling anxious, or they may not react at all.”

Miller says dogs’ varying reactions to a shift in the atmosphere or  unrecognized sound or movement can stem from early traumas, such as being caught  in a rainstorm, hurricane or tornado, or from “a cellular memory that they have  brought with them to this lifetime.” For dogs, “sensing the supernatural is  natural because they don’t judge it. People could see auras or spirits, but they  either don’t believe they exist, or think that if they do exist, we could not  see them.” Animal Planet’s own series “The Haunted” includes episodes with  instances of family dogs reacting to the apparent presence of spirits, reactions  that have no easy explanation for the out-of-the-ordinary behavior.

Scientific studies on dogs’ senses offer debatable evidence of dogs’ psychic  and sensory perceptions. In his 1999 book, “Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are  Coming Home and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals: An Investigation,”  biologist and author Rupert Sheldrake presents a five-year exploration into  canine behaviors. His work is based on the experiences of thousands of dogs and  owners whose arrival home at unexpected times did not surprise their pets, who  reacted with anticipation. Sheldrake concludes that “there is a strong  connection between humans and animals that lies beyond present-day scientific  understanding.”

When watching your own dog during activities in your household, or when you  take him visiting, you may see him fasten his attention on something you can’t  see or hear. You may shrug it off as anxiety or reaction to an unfamiliar smell.  Or just maybe, you suspect your own pooch is communing with the unseen.

Because dogs can’t talk to offer their own explanations, there’s no way to  know what exactly is going on. “The simple answer is, we don’t know that dogs  see ghosts or spirits,” Miller said. But she adds, “If you observe a dog  standing in the corner, barking at nothing visible, then there’s a pretty good  chance that he’s barking at an entity, spirit, or energy that doesn’t belong  there.”

A distant noise, an unseen spirit or fresh cut of meat? You decide.