Jack’s Intuition: A Dog’s Amazing Ability to Understand Life and Death

It’s almost a year ago that my beloved dog peanut passed away. And on that day something very mysterious occurred.

It’s taken me all this time to get to a place where I was ready to tell this story. But, I’ve reached the point in which I’m ready to share. So today I’d like to talk about how my dog Jack responded to the passing of Peanut.

However, before I jump in, I think it’s important for me to point out just how much I loved Peanut and how much she meant to me.

So, if you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to check out my tribute to Peanut so you can better understand the connection we had.

Check it out here!

As a dog behaviourist and someone who is determined to help reveal the true depth of understanding that dogs have, I feel it is my duty not to sit on this story any longer, but to share it…

It’s also important to understand that my own personal belief is that dogs—like humans—have a spirit which lives on well past the day our bodies stop working. This belief gives me the ability to talk about Peanut as if she’s just moved to another place. And, I’m able to do so not with sadness, but with gratitude for the amazing time we had together.

Let’s jump in…

On the day that Peanut died, something very strange occurred.

First, I’d like to set the scene as to what happened and then we’ll look into what could’ve actually been going on. Because at the time of Peanuts death, my dog, Jack, seemed to know something. And if we follow the laws of science and physics, it was something he shouldn’t really have been able to know.

So, let me set the scene.

It was Peanut’s last day as we knew her on this earth and she prepared to move on… She was inside the house lying down. I put the other three dogs in the back of my car so that they were separated from what was going on.

They’d been in the car for a couple of hours relaxing and then it happened, Peanut passed on. She took her last breath. Her heart stopped beating and that was it. There was no screaming, there was no shouting.

I may have shed a tear, however, I’d been crying a lot the last 48 hours. Nothing else really changed. Her spirit, as I believe, left her body and that was it.

Now, I decided it was very important that Jack, Inca, and Moses, my other three dogs—who’d lived with Peanut for many, many years—were able to get closure…that they were able to see that Peanut had passed on.

So I decided it was important that they came in and just said their final farewells.

And having seen Jack and observed them over the last few years, I‘ve come to realize that when it comes to death, Jack knows some stuff. He seemed to take death and the passing of life and death very seriously. So I’d got my camera ready to video what he did when he came in to see Peanut and his reaction.

It may seem a bit strange to some of you that this is what I did. However, as a dog behaviourist, this was something that was very important to me. I didn’t want to miss something and then for years later try and explain it to people or even question my own rationale.

Did I really see or did it really occur?

Now, in the video I’m going to share with you, you can see exactly what happens when Jack, Inca, and Moses came into the lounge area where Peanut was lying and observed her. So, take a moment to watch the video now, then I want to explain what I saw from my point of view.

Now that you’ve watched the video, here’s what happened from my point of view…

Basically, Inca and Moses came up, and they sniffed Peanut. You could see that they were visibly aware that something had changed.

All of them did the kind of downward dog stretching pose, stretching their chest muscles, however, that’s another conversation as to what exactly is going on there. However, Jack came to the kitchen doorway and stopped outside. He clearly knew already that Peanut had passed and he absolutely refused to come in.

Jack was always a dog who just ran straight into the kitchen and was always very happy to come inside. I’ve never seen him stop at the doorway quite like he had and it wasn’t chance.

It took me a while to realize that’s what it was. He was refusing to come in. He knew already Peanut had passed. He didn’t need to come close to Peanut. And immediately, I was struck with this question of how, why. How does he know?

You can see in the video he kind of cranes his neck. It’s not so much of a dog sort of smelling the air sniffing. It’s more like stretching and a looking. I’ve never been able to really get to the bottom of how he knew…which is what this blog post is about.

Of course I can’t say with exact certainty what happened. But, I’d just like to look at the reasons why he possibly may have known. In fact, I’m throwing this out here because I’d also love to hear YOUR thoughts and ideas on why Jack knew. So perhaps together we can learn a bit more about dogs and their amazing abilities together.

Before we look at the reasons why he wouldn’t come in, I want to clarify Jacks actions…

There is absolutely no doubt that Jack refused to come in because if you watch the video, I actually called him in. At one point, I even tried to entice him in with some food treats and he absolutely refuses them.

Now I’ve never seen this in probably a five year period of being with Jack. He would always come in for food treats. So there’s absolutely no doubt or no question that I couldn’t even bribe him in, unheard of. And he’s also a very confident, dominant dog so it’s not really a fear-based thing that was stopping him from coming in. It was almost more of a respect. It was almost more of a “you don’t do this” or “now is not the right time to come in.”

So, let’s jump back now to how Jack knew Peanut had passed…

Here are a few of my ideas…(none of which make any real sense to me).

Could Jack SEE Peanut?

So, the first way that Jack could have possibly known that Peanut had passed is through sight. However, I want to make a full stop here and let me just put this bit in here before we carry on.

Could he have? Was it in his line of sight? It’s possible, but I don’t know that it makes sense.

You see, there’s no line of sight from the back of the car (where Jack was resting) to where Peanut was lying. From where Jack was, you cannot see down through the window, down a hall or into the house where Peanut was lying inside and the front door is a solid wooden door and was shut. It’s impossible.

There is no way he could’ve seen.

And if you think about the visible changes in Peanut, the only thing that actually had changed is her heart had stopped beating, which was a tiny raising and dipping of her body. You know, several times in the previous two days I would look at her and I had to look hard to see if she was alive still. There was almost no movement, none, there was nothing to actually ‘see’.

This brings me to my next theory…scent.

Was it through SCENT?

Was it through scent that Jack was able to detect that Peanut had passed on?

Now, we all know that dogs have an amazing sense of scent.

They can smell things from a long distance away. However, there has to be a scent for them to smell. In other words, in order for Jack to know Peanut had passed, there would have to be something (a scent that was produced) that had occurred when Peanut’s heart stopped beating and she died.

So if there had been a smell or scent released then totally I’d be saying, “Well, that maybe is what Jack was detecting.” However, this doesn’t really make any sense either because Peanut had actually been incontinent for a couple of days. So, there was a lot of, you know, pee and poo around the place.

There were a lot of scents, in that sense, in the air.

And, to be honest, if any of the dogs were going to detect a scent, it would’ve been Inca because she has by far the best sense of smell. She’s an incredibly good sniffing dog.

Even more interesting, Jack didn’t seem to smell the air at all. He had no interest in sniffing and I’m not sure that a scent is released when a dog passes. However, if anyone knows then I’m curious to learn if there is something that is released when a dog actually dies.

While it’s a possibility, I to this day have a hard time believing it was a smell that gave Peanut’s passing away to Jack, which leads me to the third possibility…

Was he reading my BODY LANGUAGE?

So, the third area where Jack may have detected or known somehow that Peanut had passed on is my body language. Now, the thing about this is for two days prior, I had been very upset. I’d been crying a lot. I hadn’t been holding it together. I had been pretty upset, not knowing when or how long this was going to go on for. So I was quite emotional.

However, when Peanut took her final breath and passed on, it was almost a release. It was actually like, “Wow, it’s over. Gosh, good. Thank goodness she’s passed gently over to the other side.”

So, I was very aware of being calm and staying relaxed when I got the dogs out the back of the car. Of course, it’s totally possible that Jack somehow went, “Oh, he’s a bit more relaxed. Peanut has clearly died and passed over.” But I don’t think so…

Neither does it explain why he refused to come in. In fact, a dog like Jack who’s thinking… ‘I wonder if Peanut has died’ would be straight into the room to confirm his suspicions. He is a fearless dog and scared of nothing and he would have most certainly wanted to know for sure one way or the other…but he didn’t.

Going back to my body language, I want to point out that as far as I’m aware, my body language was more upbeat if anything than it had been the last two days.

So in summary… it really doesn’t seem very likely that he was able to 100%, without a shadow of a doubt, know that Peanut had passed.

And then absolutely, 100% refuse to step foot into that house.

In fact, it doesn’t make any sense at all to me

So if it wasn’t sight, or scent or body language, what does that leave us with…?

Well, other than the sight, the scent, and my body language, I actually have no other ideas about how Jack knew that Peanut had passed on. It is a complete and utter mystery…

And I’d love to hear your thoughts!

If you got any ideas or suggestions, or if I’ve missed something, I’m always fascinated to learn from other dog lovers.

But to wrap things up, I want to quickly touch on one more possibility that’s a bit more abstract.

I believe Jack was sensing something else…

You see, I’ve seen Jack do this (sense things like death) a number of times in probably 5 to 10 different ways. He has always been able to indicate that he knows something very serious has happened whether it be at a distance, or over a time period that he shouldn’t have been able to have known, almost a premonition.

And he’s always taken death very seriously.

In the video, you can see he sits next to the grave of a dead chicken who we loved and he loved very much named Crossbeak.

He sat by her grave for three or four hours. It was incredible. And when Peanut passed away, the same sort of thing happened. He jumped in the back of my car and he lay there for hours and hours and hours.

Now, he’s never jumped in the back of the car, even with the doors open he doesn’t jump and lie there. And the important thing about the backseat of my car is that that is where Peanut used to lie.

It was a very special place. When I only had the one dog, that’s where Peanut would lie. And when Inca turned up, that’s where the two dogs would lie together on that backseat.

As you can see in the video, he’s in a very solemn, somber, sort of meditative state almost. He’s a very energetic fun boy usually. You know, if you speak to him, he’ll jump up at you and say, “Yes, let’s play,” and lick your face. He’s that sort of a dog.

But when he’s on that backseat, it’s almost like he’s saying, “No. I’ve got work to do here. This is serious. Just leave me alone.” His head goes down. Again, it all ties in with now this is the serious time to contemplate the passing of an amazing dog.

Perhaps, just maybe, our dogs are able to sense things on a psychic level—like a sixth sense. They have the capability to understand and know when things are going to happen…far before we humans even know.

If you’re reading this and none of that makes sense and you think it’s all coincidence, then that’s all cool. You know, we all create our own version of reality. But, I’ve certainly seen enough stuff to absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, know there’s stuff going on with these dogs. And if you watch and observe them carefully, you’ll see they’re far more sentient beings than we often give them credit for.

They’re far more aware of things that are going on in what we probably call the spirit world. They’re far more aware of life and death than we often give them credit for.

In observing Peanut’s passing, when Inca and Moses meet Peanut, for me there’s no doubt that they sniff her, they look at her, and they go, “Yep, wow, she’s moved on.” The interesting thing for me there is, they went, “Well, that’s not a bad thing. There’s no need to mourn. There’s no need to cry. There’s no need to weep. She’s gone to a good place.

The spirit lives on. It’s gone somewhere else. It’s not the end. It’s not a time to be sad. Inca looks at us, she sits down and goes, “Well, what are we going to do? Is there a problem?” And my message to her is, “No, it’s all good, love. Not a problem. Let’s carry on.”

In writing this I hope I have helped to bring a positive view of the passing of our loved ones. Raised the question that we are more than just flesh and blood, and that we do indeed have a spirit which goes on…

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think. And I’d love nothing more than if you share your own stories, thoughts, and experiences…

I’ve read enough books to know that Jack and his reaction to Peanut’s passing is not the only one. There are many, many examples of dogs who knew when other animals had died.

If any of you have read the beautiful book called The Elephant Whisperer by Laurance Anthony, who saved a herd of elephants from being killed, you’ll be aware that when he passed on, all the elephants in his sanctuary came from miles and miles around and lined up outside his house and came to pay homage to him. They too knew he had passed and paid their respect…I believe Jack was doing the same inside the car.

He knew…

Regardless of whatever happened, I’m very aware of a dog’s ability—you might call it a sixth sense—to understand things that are beyond our own understanding, and I believe this is another example of it.

If this intrigues you and you’d like to read about another example of Peanut’s own ability to gauge something that’s kind of outside of our understanding, then click here and you can read about Peanut’s and the dog’s sixth sense.

Or, once again, you could read more about Peanut by going to this link here. Peanut 7 lessons

Whatever your feelings, let’s not limit the ability of our dogs by judging them by our own!




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