Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Friday, August 21, 1998 Published at 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK


Psychic dog phenomenon brought back down to earth

Man's best friend is his dog, but did you ever think that your four-legged pal might know a lot more about you than you think?

About four years ago, the question arose of whether pets might be using psychic abilities to detect when their owners were returning home.

The concept was based on the story of Jaytee and his owner, Pam Smart, from Ramsbottom in north-west England, which was filmed by an Austrian television company and shown around the world.

Hypnotist Paul McKenna's show, World of the Paranormal, declared the terrier psychic and Channel 4's Absolutely Animals did a special feature on the dog with paranormal powers.

But Jaytee's fling with international fame is now set to bite the dust.

The British Journal of Psychology has published the results of new research carried out on Jaytee and his alleged powers.

Its findings bring the idea of the psychic dog back down to earth - with a bump.

External vibes

In 1994, the Austrian programme-makers carried out an experiment which seemed to prove Ms Smart's claim that her parents, with whom she lives, had noticed that Jaytee was able to sense when she started her journey home.

He would then sit on the porch awaiting her return.

But according to the latest study, which was carried out by some of Britain's leading paranormal experts, Jaytee's love affair with sitting by the porch has more to do with passing cats, playing children and cars whizzing by.

Four experiments were carried out in all. One group of researchers stayed at home to film Jaytee and monitor his behaviour.

Another accompanied Ms Smart on her journeys, made at different times of the day, and recorded the exact time she would decide to return home.

They found that although Jaytee regularly visited the porch during the day, it was more to do with something outside that had caught his attention.

The report concluded: "In all four experiments Jaytee failed to detect accurately when Pam Smart set off to return home."

All gone dog-eared

The researchers put Jaytee's behaviour down to selective memory, good guesswork and coincidence, which the report says "could often have sufficient scope to give an owner the impression of a paranormal effect".

Although it says four experiments are too few to rule out completely a psychic effect, they are enough "to contradict the claim made by the media that the effect is strong and completely reliable."

As for Jaytee, his fall from fame will have probably left him with one thought: "It's a dog's life."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

Entertainment Contents

TV and Radio
New Media
Internet Links

British Journal of Psychology

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.