Killer tornadoes passed -- sorry, ripped -- through Missouri two nights ago. I knew this because my dog McDonnell was shaking and panting and sitting on my head at 2 a.m. I tried everything. The Full Body Dog Take-down. The Comforter Tent. The Tough Love Choke-hold.
Mac the Mighty Weather Dog-ometer needed to alert me that dogs were being rained on somewhere within a two-hundred-mile radius. There was no rain outside my house, of course, but North Central Missouri evidently had tornadoes. Mac wanted me to know that little rural dogs were in danger of being swept up. (He has never seen The Wizard of Oz, thankfully.)
So, knowing the dog was reaching Emergency Alert System levels of panic (even though there was no rain here) I turned on the Weather Channel at 2 a.m. and I swear he watched it. He stopped shaking and studied the red tornado watch boxes closely. A commercial came on and he went back to pacing.
"I know, honey" I cooed, "There's a tornado two hundred freaking miles away. Do you think I can do something about it?"
"PANT PANT PANT!"
At least he contained his bowels, which is more than I can say of our late dog Fred, the Seismo-Dog, who could tell if an earthquake was happening. I discovered he had this skill when one day I called the vet, complaining Fred was fine yesterday but this morning he had strafed the house with watery diarrhea.
"It's just the earthquake" the vet said, quite blase , "All the dogs are doing it."
"Huh? What earthquake?"
"There was a 2.5 earthquake at the New Madrid fault this morning. We can't feel it, but dogs can, and they panic and have diarrhea."
Since this is the vet who sometimes eschews the Scientific Method (see Dogs and Kangaroo), I thought it best to check with another source. My co-worker Barry's wife worked for Dog Fancy Magazine, so I asked him, "Barry, have you heard anything about the way dogs behave during earthquakes?"
"Yes" Barry said authoritatively, "They slide into the chasms right along with the buildings and the trees."
Still, Fred did seem to be a Discerner of Earthquakes, and McDonnell can certainly sense a tornado at 200 miles. Douglas it appears has no natural talent, unless someday he starts barking and chasing his tail and we are promptly flattened by a tsunami.