As we all know, Brody has many talents. Eating, for one. Getting into trouble, absolutely. Jumping up on unsuspecting strangers? Check. Earthquake prediction? Yeah. Not so much.
Scientists have long grappled with the question of whether or not animals can predict earthquakes. Dogs have reliably been trained as seizure prediction dogs and diabetic sugar level assistance dogs, but canine seismologists are a bit more of a stretch.
Maybe there are animals out there with finely tuned vibration antennae. I have yet to meet one. My childhood dog Taffy notoriously slept through a 6.0 rumbler that sent my entire family screaming through the upstairs hallways to jump into the nearest doorway, while she snoozed beneath a precariously swinging chandelier. She also slept through a home robbery. She was a terrible guard dog.
This is Sophie. She may be one of the rare ones.
As you probably have heard, on Easter Sunday residents of the western seaboard were treated to a 7.2 earthquake. I was at my in-laws’ home, sitting on the patio with my father while the kids and dogs roamed the extensive wilds of the backyard. I noticed my chair shaking a wee bit, and looked at my hands to see if they were trembling or shaky at all. I had skipped my morning Starbucks run, and with no caffeine on board my body was as still as still could be.
A few seconds later (which is a long time when the ground is moving) I was still shaking, and I could see the ice cubes in my drink dancing about on the table. My father noticed it too. By this point, we could hear the ground rumbling like a giant case of indigestion. “Geez,” I said, “This is a strong one.”
“Sure is,” he agreed, and since there is absolutely nothing one can do in that situation once you have determined there is nothing nearby that can fall on your head, we just sat there riding the shock waves around the concrete. It was a very long earthquake.
After it ended, dead silence. No car alarms, nothing. Then, about 20 seconds after the quake ended, the air erupted with the entire neighborhood of barking dogs asking what I can only assume is, “WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT?” in dog-talk.
As I’m tugging on my husband’s sleeve telling him to “Go check USGS! I bet that was at least a 6.5!” on his new Ipad (we Californians do love to play “Guess That Richter”), my mother in law arrives with the kids and Brody from their adventures down the hill. “Hoo boy!” I said breathlessly. “What did you think of that quake?”
They looked at me with blank stares. Brody dropped a wet tennis ball in my lap. They didn’t notice a thing. Meanwhile, my relatives in Boston were watching Headline News and were convinced the house had fallen down since we were too busy looking up the magnitude of the quake to answer the phone.
While we endured an afternoon of variably intense aftershocks, Brody trotted about unconcernedly, seeming miffed only when someone stopped scratching his ears during the shakes. No warning from this guy. I guess he won’t be up for a career with the Army Corps of Engineers any time soon.