Dogs alert to earthquakes? Not mine!

May 7, 2010

When they were handing out a mystical sensitivity to impending earthquakes to the animals, my dogs were apparently sleeping in another room somewhere.

At 3:30 Pacific Time on April 4, 2010, Guadalupe Victoria, Baja California, Mexico was the epicenter of a 7.2 earthquake.  San Diego city and county both shook as ceiling fans swayed, books fell off shelves, and people danced while trying to stay upright.

I was working at my computer, felt the chair underneath me shiver and called out to my husband, Paul, “We’re having an earthquake.”

He stepped into my office, felt the floor under him move and casually agreed. After all, we’re Californians and this happens — just like Florida gets hit by hurricanes and the mid-west gets tornadoes — and most of the time we don’t even stop what we’re doing to react.

But then my shelves next to my computer really started shaking, the ceiling fan was swaying hard, and Paul and I agreed at the same time, “Let’s get outside!” All of our neighbors were outside and we laughed and joked as the ground continued to shake, and we made guesses as to the epicenter and strength. Hey, I admit, Californians are weird and I’m a native born one.

Although this quake was the same strength as the one that hit Haiti, it hasn’t received nearly the attention as the Haiti quake did. Electricity and water were out for weeks and are still out in many places. Buildings collapsed and roads were ruined. Although lives were lost; thankfully not nearly the numbers that died in Haiti.

The quake was felt north to Los Angeles, northeast to Las Vegas, east to Phoenix. Places in Southern California received some damage, too. El Centro, CA — east of San Diego =- had some significant building damage.

It was a long quake. Instead of just one hard shock that was then gone, this one shook hard, then less, then shook hard some more. It lasted more than 30 seconds although it seemed to last much longer than that.

Here in northern San Diego county, it was quiet. Some earthquakes make noise and have a rumbling sound, like a heavy truck or train going past. This one — for as hard as it was — was quiet.

Now I’ve read in numerous publications that animals are more in sync with the natural world than we are and can tell when an earthquake is going to happen. Most of these articles say that people should pay attention to their pets, to domestic animals, and even wild animals and when a change in natural behavior is noticed, react.

On April 4, as I sat in front of my computer, with my office rattling all around me I did look at my dogs. Riker was behind my chair, Bashir was under my desk, and Archer was to the right of my chair. All were in the normal spots while I’m working and all three were sound asleep.

Hmmm…not one of the three moved an inch as our world began to shake. Not an inch! In fact, when Paul and I decided to go outside, although Bashir followed me as he normally does — my shadow!- – we had to call the other two. Geezzz……

Since the April 4 quake, there have been thousands — and I mean that literally — of aftershocks. Some reached 4 and 5 on the earthquake scale, hundreds were in the 2 and 3s, while many were less than 2.  The dogs have reacted to none of the aftershocks.

In a way I guess this is good. The dogs certainly aren’t stressed by the earthquakes and since we do live in an earthquake prone region, at least I know the dogs aren’t suffering from overload.

But it might be nice if my wonderful, loyal, protective, dedicated and intelligent dogs might let me know when a 7 pointer decides to shake us again. At least to give me enough time to get out of the house.

But I’m not going to count on it.

Photo: Archer, unperturbed, by Liz Palika.

Filed under: behavior and training,pets, connected — Liz Palika @ 5:01 am


  1. Mine never notice anything either, and the cats were not any better.

    Comment by Kim Thornton — May 7, 2010 @ 7:06 am

  2. My terror of earthquakes continues…

    Comment by David S. Greene — May 8, 2010 @ 7:20 am

  3. We were snoring during today’s earthquake
    Benny & Lily

    Comment by Benny & Lily — July 7, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

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