Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

November 4, 2009

Our Little Earthquake Detectors

I have heard many stories about how people notice a change in their animals, right before earthquakes. Many pets run away in the days before a quake. But it's only after the fact that the people realize that their animals were trying to tell them something.

The last 2 nights in a row, Pepper....
...and Sagieboo....

were acting really weird. They were really clingy and restless. They wouldn't lay down, they would just stand in the family room either near the slider or in the doorway to the hall, and stare at us. We kept saying, "Lay down. Sit. Down." and they'd just stare at us. When they get like this, I'll always say, "What's up with you guys? Is Timmy trapped in the well? Are we gonna have an earthquake or what?"

Sometime very early this morning, my bed was shaking very hard and fast. I assumed it was Pepper either climbing up, jumping off, or perhaps she was shaking b/c she'd heard a loud noise. I may have muttered, "settle down Beanie." But when I moved my leg over, she was laying very still, although she did jump off the bed right after that. I turned over and thought, "wonder if we just had a quake?" A few minutes later, I looked at the clock and it was 4:55 am, so I went back to sleep for an hour. I woke up at 6, forgot about the shaking bed, turned on KING-5 news and saw this story:

"PORTLAND - Federal officials say a 5.3 magnitude quake off the Oregon coast Wednesday morning did not generate a tsunami. The U.S. Geological Survey Web site did not have any initial reports that the quake was felt on the coast. The USGS reports the quake occurred at 4:38 a.m., 249 miles southwest of Portland or 124 miles west of Barview."

Although the quake was at least an additional 160+ miles from where we live, I am certain that's what I felt. I asked Brian and he said he didn't consciously feel any shaking, although he did get up to use the washroom and noticed that it was 4:38 am.

There was a small quake off Humboldt County in California the day before.

Could Bee and Say have sensed them before they happened? It would explain their behaviour the past 2 nights. Since Brian and I both try to approach things scientifically, we do take notice of the way they act, to gain insight into how dogs interact with each other and with humans. And living in "Earthquake Country" for the past 20+ years, we are extremely aware of the many lost pet or unusually hyper pet stories, especially after the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. A couple of weeks after that quake, I remember I was walking to the store in my neighborhood. I could hear dogs barking and howling in apartments. I thought, "Oh god we're gonna have an aftershock, I just know it...." There was an aftershock that very night.

Next time we'll take Bean's & Boo's restlessness a bit more seriously!


  1. My grandmother's nervous little dog would SHAKE right before thunderstorms... before the advent of satellites, he was a better weather forecaster than TV.

    I'd be terrified if the dog had seemed restless; I have heard that all my life!

    Glad you're okay. Dogs are amazing in their abilities; the Dogs For Autism people (see my Saturday post) can train them to detect imminent seizures also! That is incredible to me!

  2. Those service dogs that can detect seizures are amazing, aren't they? One of my FB friends has narcolepsy and I was wondering if there are any service dogs that could detect when she's about to have an episode.

    I know that Pepper & Sagan really seem to know when the power is out vs. the lights being shut off. I've wondered if they can sense the electrical changes.

  3. Spooky!

    Some years ago, I remember noticing that one of my mum's cats was hissing at thin air in one small part of the house. Around the same time I was aware "out of the corner of my eye" of a presence that was just an older woman in rather dull period dress going about her business. I formulated a theory, that fits all my experiences of the weird, occult and ghostly, that people going about their everyday lives create a groove in the atmosphere that can replay in certain atmospheric conditions, and this was was the cat and I were experiencing.

    Doesn't help with your earthquake theory, but it doesn't contradict it either.

  4. spooky indeed - but even if you the dogs were right and you there'd be a 'quake what would you have done differently because you wouldn't know exactly when or how bad it would be - interesting!

  5. looks like i left some words out - or put too many in... erm hope you understood what i was trying to say...

  6. Ann - There's nothing we can do, really. The quakes can happen any time, anywhere, from Alaska to Patagonia! lol Until science can create a reliable earthquake warning system, we are at the mercy of Ma Nature.

    Years ago, back in SF, there was a client of one of the attorneys in our office, who owned the Calistoga Old Faithful Geyser in Napa Valley. Every time it altered it's 45 minute eruption, we'd have a quake. She used to call our office and warn us that the geyser was going off once every 2-3 hours, instead of every 45 minutes. This was in the first couple of years after the 89 quake, and her calls used to send us all into a panic. Then we'd end up having bunch of teeny tiny micro quakes that you can't even feel. It got to the point where we had to force ourselves to stop panicking whenever she'd call.

  7. I saw a herd of cattle run frantically about 15 minutes before a tornado hit.

  8. I always say that nature knows best. You look to animals to know what is coming, because they all seem to have an exclusive on Mother Earth.
    See, WE are the invaders. That is why everything in creation works together like a well-oiled machine, only HUMANS are excluded.

    Your dogs definitely knew it was coming....and they must always be taken seriously. xxx

  9. Anonymous9:36 AM

    I think animals are far more 'sensitive' about things than we are - although maybe they don't appreciate how we feel about Vincent ;0) - so I don't doubt they knew it was coming. I remember when we had the total eclipse a few years back. It was the eeriest sensation I've ever felt. Not only did it go very cold and dark in the middle of the day, there wasn't a sound from nature, not from the birds or anything else. No wonder in bygone ages they thought the world was coming to an end.

    My mother has 'missed' the last 2 earthquakes in the UK, even tho' the first one in particular shook all the crockery in her china cabinet. Heaven knows what she thought was responsible, it's not like we get heavy trucks passing by!!

  10. Wow! seems quite plausible to me that your dogs could sense an impending earthquake.

    Clever chaps, dogs...

  11. do ya think that i could train loganne to detect tornados before they form?

  12. Anonymous8:30 AM

    Ruff has been very vocal lately- talking when he normally doesn't. (Not barking but whining for along time and looking at us as if he has something to say). If only I understood him....although, most likely it would be "Go to bed, I"m tired" or "Give me better treats"