Animal sense

Ever notice how critters tend to know the weather is about to change before we do?  I’m not suggesting meteorologists are useless.  I listen to forecasts and watch radar for predicting the approach of inclement weather.  And one can look at the sky, listen to the wind, and know something of the near term changes to expect.  But I’ve often found that as a weather system approaches it’s the critters around us who seem to have the timing down better than we do.

This morning I was sitting out back reading the paper and enjoying the smells of a fresh spring morning.  We’d just had a light shower and everything was fresh and damp.  Our dog was out on the lawn chewing a small branch that had blown down from one of the maples.  The sky was still dark on the southwest horizon and more rain was in the forecast.  Cleo, a Lab/Rottweiler mix, loves the outdoors and will stay out though most anything but a downpour… or thunder.  No thunder, thank you.

So somewhere between reading that some horse had just won another leg of the Triple Crown and catching up on some local politics Cleo comes racing up to me in a panic.  I looked around to see nothing unusual, hadn’t heard anything… so what gives?  She’s insisting, so I get up to head in to the house.  Then I hear what might be the rumble of thunder in the distance.  Faint to me – but obviously pretty clear to the dog.  I get that dogs have a better sense of hearing.  But if hearing is such a significant advantage, why don’t we humans hear better than we do?  Did our distant ancestors realize the animals around them were better weather watchers too – and in the case of dogs, was domestication predicated as much on this talent as on the many others displayed by our canine friends?

Oh, that rumbling turned into a pretty fair little storm and we got over an inch of rain.  More small maple limbs will decorate that back yard for Cleo’s next visit.


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