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The Case for Animal Esp and Telepathy

Updated on September 28, 2021
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Nathan enjoys researching forgotten and unusual historical and paranormal events.


Do Animals Have ESP?

Do animals have extrasensory abilities we don't know about? Are they able to understand certain telepathic signals. Over time there have been a number of creatures out there that have shown an unusual understanding of our attempts to communicate with them. Other animals seem to have a built in GPS that they can access to navigate over long distances. Birds will fly thousands of miles to warmer climes, often to a pinpoint location without error. Dogs and cats have shown this ability many times. There are many stories of pets crossing long distances to be reunited with their families. The stories we will look at are some of the most unusual of all, and may make you believe your pet knows more than you expect.

Jim the Wonder Dog

In June of 1932, a joint session of the Missouri legislature met to welcome a special guest. This guest was not a foreign dignitary, or a political heavyweight, quite the contrary he lived right down the road. In fact this special visitor was a dog named Jim. Not surprisingly this was no ordinary dog. Jim the Wonder Dog as he was dubbed by the press had been shocking people with his special abilities for years. Originally coming to his owner as a bird-dog, Jim was a Llewellyn setter who quickly showed his owner that his abilities went beyond hunting quail.

Sam Van Arsdale, the man who owned the dog, discovered that Jim seemed to be able to pick specific cars by their color, make, or license plate. Sometimes Jim would travel blocks to find the right car. He could also pick people out of a crowd by clothing, or simply by description, as in “ a visitor from Kansas City”. Even more incredible, Jim was a bit of a prophet, selecting the winners of seven Kentucky Derby's in a row, as well as the 1936 presidential election, and the World Series that year. Nobody knew just how Jim accomplished these feats, but a visit to the University of Missouri to be tested may have given us a clue.

The professors at the university gave the dog commands in Spanish, French, Italian, and German. Jim immediately responded to the requests accurately despite them being given in a foreign language. The professors were perplexed at how the dog could know what was said. Later at the infamous session of the Missouri legislature, Jim answered commands in shorthand, and Morse code without missing a beat. If it was trickery, it was the con of the century, taking in the entire legislature, veterinarians and professors at the University of Missouri, and everyone else Jim came across during his lifetime.

The conclusion that many learned men and women came to was that Jim could somehow read minds. He certainly seemed to have some kind of telepathic ability when he immediately knew what was being asked of him, even if it was in a foreign language or Morse code. This animal enigma died in 1937. But is what this amazing dog was purported to do possible? Do some (or even all) animals have some telepathic or extra sensory abilities.

Incredible Journeys

Taking the story of Jim the Wonder Dog as our starting point, we will look at some possible evidence that animals have abilities which we don't yet understand. Most people have seen dogs go to the window to wait for their owner, sometimes fifteen to twenty minutes before they get home. How do they know that their owner will be coming home shortly?

Many people are familiar with the numerous stories of incredible journeys; i.e. animals left behind traveling thousands of miles to be reunited with families. There is the fascinating story of a collie named Bobbie who joined his owners the Brazier family on a automotive trip from Silverton Oregon to Bluffton Indiana. At a garage in Wolcott Indiana however, Bobbie was chased off by a group of dogs, and disappeared into the countryside. Despite offering a reward, nobody came forward with any information. With a heavy heart the Braziers traveled back to Oregon. Out in the Indiana countryside, Bobbie was lost but determined to find his family.

At first the dog seemed to be going in circles around Northwestern Indiana. He came to the same bungalow twice five days apart, but just after the second visit something seemed to click and the collie then headed off straight as an arrow west to Oregon. After his amazing journey, people came forward who had helped the dog with food and shelter along the way. Witnesses observed Bobbie swimming numerous rivers along the way including the Missouri. How Bobbie got over the Rockies, and the Cascades in mid-winter is unknown, but the dog obviously managed it. All we know is that it took him two months to get from Denver Colorado to Oregon.

Finally he arrived in Silverton, skin and bones with matted fur and the pads of his paws worn off. The dog was so exhausted and worn out that he walked right by the restaurant the Braziers' called home, and made his way to the farm he had been brought up on. Bobbie then collapsed on the grave of a dog that he had been raised with. The new owner of the farm spotted him and gave him food and water. The dog rested and eat, and then stood again to make the final walk back to the restaurant. A joyous reunion with his family followed. Bobbie had made it back home. He had traveled 2551 miles.

But how did he do it? How did he know which way to go? Did he have some sort of telepathic communication with his master. Do animals have a form of telepathy that can give them basic information in a way they can understand it? Do all creatures have a reservoir of knowledge they can access when they need to?

There are numerous stories of incredible journeys by animals to be reunited with their families. And sometimes the situation is reversed. The animal left in it's familiar home area departs and travels hundreds or thousands of miles to find it's owner in a place the animal has never seen. How did they know where they needed to go?

Animals and Earthquakes

On November 1 1775, the city of Lisbon Portugal was mostly destroyed by a massive earthquake and tsunami. Shortly afterwards fires consumed most of what was left. It was All-Saints Day, and many people were gathered in churches which were destroyed in the quake. Tens of thousands of people were killed in what would become known as one of the greatest natural disasters in recorded history. Days before this massive quake hit, it was noticed by people in the city that animals of all kinds were leaving Lisbon in droves.

Cats, dogs, birds, rats, and even snakes were observed on all roads that led to higher ground. They somehow seemed to know that something big was about to occur. That could be partially explained by the creatures feeling the subsonic waves that precede an earthquake, but as to why the animals simply didn't hide as most do in stressful situations is harder to explain. How did all these different kinds of critters know at the same time to get the heck out of dodge.

It's not the only time that animals have shown unusual behavior before a quake. In China, there have been reports of mice and other small creatures leaving an area before a big earthquake. Snakes were even noticed leaving their hibernation caves in winter to get on the move. Could all these animals be receiving a signal of sorts, perhaps even from other animals to vacate a area quickly?

Fer-De-Lance Viper
Fer-De-Lance Viper | Source

Communicating With Snakes

In the early decades of the twentieth century, an amazing woman named Grace Wiley lived and worked with creatures that filled many people in the world with dread. Wiley was an expert at handling deadly venomous snakes. However it was the way she handled them that left people incredulous. Wiley didn’t use snake tongs to pin and grab them, she simply freehandled them, picking them up as though they were a lost puppy. She firmly believed that snakes could be tamed, and over the course of two decades she had handled over 300 snakes. In her collection at any given time were king cobras, tiger snakes, copperheads, fer-de-lances, green mambas, and rattlesnakes among others.

Grace Wiley was obviously a skilled handler of snakes, but the way she claimed to have tamed them is unusual. She would enter a bare room with just a table in the center. Wiley would stand at one end of the table, and the snake would be released from it's container at the other end. She would then attempt to telepathically communicate with the snake, silently showing admiration, respect, and expressing that it had nothing to fear. Before long the snake would relax, and she could then handle the creature.

There was a glass partition where hundreds of people over the years watched her do this. Was she actually able to mentally communicate with snakes she 'tamed”? She always claimed that she could, and in twenty plus years of handling these poisonous reptiles she was only bitten three times (once by a monitor lizard).

Finally in 1948, perhaps the law of averages caught up to Grace Wiley as she was fatally bitten. A photographer was taking pictures of her and her snakes, and requested a picture of a cobra raising it's hood. Wiley had king cobras in her collection but felt that they were too tame to flatten their hoods.

Instead she brought out an Indian cobra, a new arrival to the center. The photographer began taking pictures, and the flashbulb angered the snake. It began to strike out at the photographer, and when Wiley tried to contain the snake, it bit her instead. The only vial of anti-venom was broken when they tried to inject her with it. Wiley was rushed to the hospital but died hours later. No one since has really been able to handle snakes the way Grace Wiley did. But how did she do it? Did she really have a method of communicating telepathically with them? She took her secrets of gentling snakes with her.

Jim the Wonder Dog


Key, Alexander. (2014) The Strange White Doves: Open Road Media

Boone, J. Allen (1976) Kinship with All Life: HarperOne

Murphy, James and Jacques, David E. " Death from Snakebite: The Entwined Histories of Grace Olive Wiley and Wesley H. Dickinson" Chicago Herp

Mertens, Randy. "CAFNR and the Psychic Dog" University of Missouri

Cole, Linda. “The Amazing Talents of Jim the Wonder Dog” Canidae


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