An experiment, or rather an observation, has been taking place in my home. My dog - Fingal, and Irish Wolfhound of four years and a half, seemed to be aware of imminent arrival home from work in the evenings. This expectation has been observed to be more pronounced when I approach the house on foot from the railway station than when I arrive by car, as I travel some days by one means, some days by the other.
The theory was put forward, and a common-sense theory it was, that this was simply a matter of timing. I arrive around 6:00 to 6:30 pm, and unsurprisingly Fingal is on the lookout from around 6:00 pm. Well and good: and in support of this theory, if I happen to be late, he goes on the lookout nevertheless, and eventually lies down near the front door.
Some recent events have made this theory less tenable. Over the last few weeks I have been using the train more frequently. When I come back on foot, he seems to begin to quiver and enter a heightened state of excitement with much more precise timing, around five minutes beforehand. Recently I came back early, without warning, at around 4:00 pm, so much earlier than usual, without the knowledge of anyone in the house, and the same thing happened. For five minutes before I arrived he was jumping around, and this puzzled my wife who hadn't expected me. Further, this has been reproduced once or twice since then when I have arrived at odd times.
How can a dog be aware of my footsteps half a mile away, beyond a wood, and behind a row of houses?
Wolfhounds, such as the legendary Bran and Seolan, were said to have faery blood; amongst other stories, they once knew not to attack a hind who was in fact a woman bewitched into a deer's shape. And hounds are the guardian animals of roads and crossroads in particular. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio...