Lassie Came Home

  • October 21, 2017
  • Judy Thompson OHA

From the column "Just Judy's Thoughts" in our sibling magazine Top Notch Toys. July 2017 Edition.

This, of course, was a fictional account. But would a dog actually be able to find the family she loves from such a distance? Did you know that the 1993 film “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” was based on a true story? Two dogs and a cat found their way home through 250 miles of Canadian wilderness! Over the years, from the sixties to the present day, I have been fascinated by accounts of dogs traveling very long distances through challenging conditions to reunite with their families and loved ones.

Pero, a four-year-old working sheepdog, traveled 240 miles in two weeks to return to his previous home in Wales. Bucky, a black Labrador, was placed with a family in Virginia. A few weeks later he was found just a few miles from his former home in South Carolina, a distance of some 500 miles. In both cases, microchips confirmed the 
dogs’ identities.

Amazingly, the dog had been taken by car and returned on foot, so there were no sensory clues for him to utilize. He could not have followed his own scent trail.

So how does science explain how dogs seem to magically find their way back to their families over great distances? Do dogs have some kind of internal GPS system or an internal compass? There are some theories we can explore, though the answer remains 
a mystery.

Some mammals rely on magnetic fields. The ears of most mammals and the beaks of some birds contain cells heavy in iron, That may cue them into a magnetic direction. Many animals navigate by orienting themselves along the north-south lines of the Earth’s magnetic fields.

Finally, we can move from science to psychic abilities. Dr. Joseph Rhine of Duke University has studied cases of Psi trailing in animals, and his studies have been documented in the Journal of Parapsychology. Psi trailing refers to cases in which all known sensory cues have been eliminated, and the animals are using psychic abilities, or what we may call a homing instinct, to locate their families. In a study in 1962, there were 54 documented cases (28 dogs, 22 cats and 4 birds) in which animals successfully used Psi trailing to find their way home from 
long distances.


<p class="\&quot;Editorial\&quot;" style="\&quot;color:" rgb(0,="" 0,="" 0);="" font-family:="" times;="" font-size:="" medium;\"="">It is too bad that Troubles, Bucky, Pero, Molly and Tony cannot speak and tell us how they made their incredible journeys.




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