Dog senses Northern California earthquake

Sophie and the Earthquake

  • Posted: 1:53 AM
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  • Author: Brian



PHOTO: Josh Jackson

Sophie was a little shaken up after Saturday's 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Northern California, but we brought her to work Monday to show her everything was all right. She spent most of the day huddled under Jessica's desk upstairs and wouldn't leave her side all day.

On the day of the earthquake, Sophie was determined to go to work with us. When we
asked her if she wanted to go, she ran to the front porch to wait by the door long before we were ready.

When we arrived, she was a little more rowdy than usual and was running around greeting everyone and being playful for the half-hour leading up to the quake. Evidently our reporter, Chris Durant, who was the first one out the door, had half a burger in the trash near his desk. We think this is why Sophie decided to lie down at that end of the room to hang out for a minute, in the hopes of investigating this smell.

In the minute before the rumble begins, Sophie starts looking suspiciously around her and at the floor. Roughly 15 seconds before the shaking starts, she looks down sharply and sniffs the ground, then dismisses it, but she remains alert. She then pokes her head sharply at the ground again and sniffs twice before she bolts.

Chris Durant swivels his chair as the dog runs past, and as he notices the rumble begin he gets up to leave. He is now famous for his deer-caught-in-the-headlights expression as he surfs the earthquake, trying to keep his balance.

Many who have seen the now world famous video wonder why Sophie ran the direction she did, clearly away from the exit. The fact is she was running to find Jessica, whose desk was at the other end of the room. Jessica, however, was washing her hands at the restroom sink when it started. When Jessica wasn't at her desk, Sophie rounded the corner and spotted her coming from the restroom and proceeded to escort her safely down the stairwell and out of the building.

What's most interesting is the way she followed Jessica rather than running ahead. She certainly knows her way around that building on her own. She's always the first one out any door or stairwell - she wants to scout our path to make sure it's safe, not to mention she's excited to be going just about anywhere. But in the video she can be seen right on Jessica's heels until the three of them are safely outside.

This was our first earthquake. Maybe Sophie has never sensed a natural disaster because we've never had one before. It's clear to me she reacted as quickly and as strongly as she did because she knew something very bad was about to happen. But how - and when?

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