Dog senses Northern California earthquake

The earth is shaken

  • Posted: 3:21 AM
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  • Author: Jessica

A woman sits in front a quake-damaged house in Talca, Chile, after a 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck the country early Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010. PHOTO: Martinez/AP

A powerful earthquake struck Chile early Saturday morning, waking residents with a jolt in the dead of night. The magnitude-8.8 was among the largest earthquakes in recorded history. In fact, the magnitude-9.5 in Chile in 1960 actually was the largest on record. It goes without saying the Chilean people are as prepared for disaster as any people can be.

A number of earthquakes have been reported around the globe in the past few days. A magnitude-7.0 struck off the coast of Japan on Friday, a magnitude-6.3 rattled the northwestern corner of Argentina on Saturday, not to mention the dozens of aftershocks above 6.0 that continue to shake central Chile.

Maybe it's the moon. There was a blue moon just before the 6.5 earthquake that struck offshore Eureka on Jan. 9, and this weekend a supermoon. Is it mere coincidence, or does the moon actually have the power to move the earth? Or perhaps through tidal triggering?

Sophie seemed unmoved by Chile's quake, but then again, she was a few thousand miles from the epicenter. Her favorite beach was awash with a tsunami surge all day Saturday, so I'm sure even if we'd taken her down there, she wouldn't have gone near the water.

Our Family Portait

  • Posted: 2:16 AM
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  • Author: Jessica

Earthquake rattles Northern California

  • Posted: 2:44 AM
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  • Author: Jessica

The earth shook beneath Humboldt County today, the second big earthquake in less than a month. The intersection of three major faults just offshore Eureka makes for a seismic hot zone. Most North Coast residents have a lifetime of experience learning to deal with earthquakes. Others of us are just starting to get used to living on shaky ground.

The 5.9-magnitude quake struck at 12:20 p.m. on Thursday 02.04.10, which of course meant that we were sleeping. The rumble was enough to wake us up. We remained still and quiet, waiting for the big jolt. It never happened, thankfully. The rumble left as gently as it came. Sophie was only a little bothered by it - she felt it before we did, once again. When it was over, we found her freaked out and waiting by the door, ready to go outside to check things out.

There were a series of significant quakes in the 1980s and early 1990s, but the area has remained relatively calm for the past 15 years. We've lived here for less than two. So it appears we may be in for a rocky ride.

Did animals sense 2004 tsunami?

  • Posted: 2:42 AM
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  • Author: Brian

National Geographic takes a closer looks at the numerous reports of strange behavior by animals in Indonesia just before the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. More than 150,000 people were killed, yet relatively few animals died. How could they have known? Was it one of their primary senses perhaps they could feel, hear or even smell something humans cannot? Or, as some believe, do they have a sixth sense?

The belief that wild and domestic animals possess a sixth sense — and know in advance when the earth is going to shake — has been around for centuries.

Wildlife experts believe animals' more acute hearing and other senses might enable them to hear or feel the Earth's vibration, tipping them off to approaching disaster long before humans realize what's going on.

The massive tsunami was triggered by a magnitude 9 temblor off the coast of northern Sumatra island on December 26. The giant waves rolled through the Indian Ocean, killing more than 150,000 people in a dozen countries.

Relatively few animals have been reported dead, however, reviving speculation that animals somehow sense impending disaster.

Ravi Corea, president of the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society, which is based in Nutley, New Jersey, was in Sri Lanka when the massive waves struck.

Afterward, he traveled to the Patanangala beach inside Yala National Park, where some 60 visitors were washed away.

The beach was one of the worst hit areas of the 500-square-mile (1,300-square-kilometer) wildlife reserve, which is home to a variety of animals, including elephants, leopards, and 130 species of birds.

Corea did not see any animal carcasses nor did the park personnel know of any, other than two water buffalos that had died, he said.

Along India's Cuddalore coast, where thousands of people perished, the Indo-Asian News service reported that buffaloes, goats, and dogs were found unharmed.

Flamingos that breed this time of year at the Point Calimere wildlife sanctuary in India flew to higher ground beforehand, the news service reported.

Strange Animal Behavior

Accounts of strange animal behavior have also started to surface.

About an hour before the tsunami hit, Corea said, people at Yala National Park observed three elephants running away from the Patanangala beach.

World Wildlife Fund, an organization that leads international efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats, has satellite collars on some of the elephants in the park.

A spokeswoman said they plan to track the elephants on that fateful day to verify whether they did move to higher ground. She doesn't know, though, when the satellite data will be downloaded and analyzed.

Corea, a Sri Lankan who emigrated to the United States 20 years ago, said two of his friends noticed unusual animal behavior before the tsunami.

One friend, in the southern Sri Lankan town of Dickwella, recalls bats frantically flying away just before the tsunami struck. Another friend, who lives on the coast near Galle, said his two dogs would not go for their daily run on the beach.

"They are usually excited to go on this outing," Corea said. But on this day they refused to go and most probably saved his life.

Alan Rabinowitz, director for science and exploration at the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, says animals can sense impending danger by detecting subtle or abrupt shifts in the environment.

"Earthquakes bring vibrational changes on land and in water while storms cause electromagnetic changes in the atmosphere," he said. "Some animals have acute sense of hearing and smell that allow them to determine something coming towards them long before humans might know that something is there."


For the complete report, visit

Sophie to the rescue

  • Posted: 2:34 PM
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  • Author: Jessica

Aftermath of an earthquake

  • Posted: 4:01 AM
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  • Author: Brian

I think this pretty much says it all ...

Sophie speaks out

  • Posted: 3:07 AM
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  • Author: Brian

Sophie still comes to work with us on weekends, and she's slowly becoming more comfortable there. She still insists on sleeping under Jessica's desk. We're pretty sure she just wants to keep Jessica within her sights in case the earth starts shaking again. But she still comes out to play whenever anyone calls her name.

She's even closer to mastering the English language. But I think in this case she just wants her ball.

Earthquake survival: What not to do

  • Posted: 3:16 AM
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  • Author: Jessica

PHOTO: Josh Jackson

For those of you who grew up in earthquake country, you know all about “duck and cover.” Well, given that this was our first earthquake experience altogether, you’ll have to forgive our knee-jerk response. As you can clearly see in the now famous videos, Brian and I each followed our instincts, which told us to get the hell out, and fast. But as it turns out, our actions make a perfect list of what not to do during an earthquake.

First, of course, duck and cover. Get on the ground, preferably beneath a study table or desk. Do not run frantically for the exit. When the building really starts shaking, do not take this to mean run faster.

If there is no furniture to take cover beneath, find a strong doorway, post or inside wall and hang on. Remember, the biggest risk of earthquake injury in a structurally sound building is falling debris, furniture and broken glass. It’s important to immediately find a secure spot to ride out the rumble. As soon as the shaking stops, safely and slowly evacuate the building, as you can see many of our coworkers do. (It turns out they’re all familiar with “duck and cover.”)

If you happen to be in your vehicle, slow to a stop while being aware of traffic around you and behind you. Look for a spot to pull off that is clear of poles, wires, trees and even buildings. Turn on your radio and wait. If you're in a tsunami hazard zone, take stock of your position and be prepared to evacuate uphill - preferably on foot.

In the hours after a major earthquake it’s important to remember three things - stay off the phone, stay off the roads, and stay informed. I confess we only maintained one of the three.

The first thing we did was call our families, to not only make sure they were all right but to make sure they knew we were OK. Next, we got in our car and drove home - I had horrible visions of my rinky-dink rental collapsing and trapping our kitties inside. It seems half of Eureka forgot about Rule No. 2 as well, considering the traffic we encountered on our way out of town. It was bumper-to-bumper in the residential Henderson Center neighborhood, which is unheard of. We returned to find no damage and very little mess at home - we were lucky, especially living 30 miles south of Eureka at the time of the quake.

At this point, we’d spent so much time in the car in the hour immediately after the quake that we had found the only AM radio station broadcasting up-to-the-minute reports. This coupled with the few calls we were able to make before the phone lines jammed meant we were far better informed than most.

We returned to the newspaper to start on the emergency eight-page earthquake edition - we were still working out the details at this point given that we had no power and had yet to assess the damage in the building. As darkness fell, we again broke with common sense. We drove headlong into the tsunami hazard zone to a little business park on the peninsula across the bay - with power, internet and a state-of the-art press. By then we were well aware of the potential for aftershocks, but we didn’t have much choice. We had but one layout computer and no printer so we made the best of it, working into the wee hours of the morning. A stunning newspaper filled with photos was delivered to doorsteps on time Sunday morning.

And luckily, there was no tsunami.

Earthquakes: Preparing for the worst

  • Posted: 2:56 AM
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  • Author: Jessica

After the recent 6.5 magnitude quake here on the North Coast and the tragic 7.0 quake that nearly destroyed Haiti’s capital, we are reminded that earthquakes are unpredictable and can be devastating. In their aftermath we often are faced with threats of tsunamis, landslides and floods. And all we can do is be prepared.

Many pet owners worry about how their furry friends would fare in a natural disaster. We have gone over our disaster plan for our own pets dozens of times, but somehow in the face of crisis, common sense seems far away.

I’m a big fan of kits. If you pack your kit slowly over the course of a few weeks, you’d be surprised by all the small but useful odds and ends you find you can throw into the kit. When it comes down to it, you simply never know what you might need when disaster strikes. Pet owners can get peace of mind by preparing a kit to ensure the safety and comfort of their animals. While they’re at it, these humans may want to consider preparing their own disaster plan, as well.

Here are a few of our favorites, from It may be more cost-effective to invest in a kit that includes all the bells and whistles rather than put your own kit together piece by piece. At the very least you may find some useful ideas for creating a kit of your own. The solar/hand-crank powered radio a and LED light is essential, but the fact that it features a cell phone charger is quite the added bonus. Having some emergency pet food rations in a handy little pack would certainly be nice. And, of course, you can’t go wrong with an impromptu bucket-toilet.

2 Person Deluxe Survival Kit
A 2 person, 3 day survival kit packaged in a 5 gallon container and designed for the home. This comprehensive survival kit contains the most effective emergency supplies for emergency preparedness including the emergency food, water, lighting, radio, first-aid, sanitation, and shelter supplies to prepare for all disasters. This deluxe kit also contains a Solar / Hand-Crank Powered Flashlight, Radio, Flashing LED Siren & Mobile Phone Charger with a universal adapter - just plug in your cell phone car charger to charge your phone using the hand-crank / Dynamo Power Generator.

Dog Survival Kit
Emergency dog survival kit containing emergency supplies for your special little loved ones. This custom built kit sets the industry standard for pet preparedness and contains the most effective supplies for emergency preparedness including the emergency food, water, lighting, first-aid, sanitation, and shelter supplies to prepare your pets. Includes a supply of our very own vacuum sealed dog food with a 5 year shelf life.

Earthquake Kit
Accessory Kit to the Home Survival Kit with additional emergency supplies specifically designed to prepare your home for earthquakes. Some of the most common emergencies and even everyday accidents occur in the home. This custom kit is specially designed to contain the most effective supplies to "quake-proof" your home and protect against damage or injury that may occur during an accident or earthquake.

It's the "dog's fault"

  • Posted: 8:03 PM
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  • Author: Brian

PHOTO: Jessica Richelderfer

Sophie is recovering well after the earthquake, though she's clearly still shaken. She notices every sound, every shake. It's been pouring rain on the North Coast for the past five days straight, so she spends most of her time sleeping at the foot of the bed. We even had a bit of thunder today, which she was not fond of.

We brought her to work last weekend, as usual. Again she spent as much time as she could under my desk, which she never tried to do before. It's a tight squeeze. I suppose she figures if it happens again she'll be close enough to warn me -- at least, I hope so.

She's back in the habit of running 15 feet ahead of us, scouting our path. Only now she's sniffing the floor constantly as she goes, perhaps trying to detect any movement. Who knows? What's clear is she remembers what happened, and like the rest of us is determined to be prepared next time.

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?

Did my dog sense California earthquake?

  • Posted: 5:05 PM
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  • Author: Brian

A 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck Northern California on Saturday 01.09.10 at 4:27 p.m. just offshore of Eureka on the Pacific Coast. This video was captured on surveillance cameras at the Times-Standard daily newspaper in Eureka. There was considerable damage to Humboldt County and the quake was felt for hundreds of miles, but there were no fatalities and very few serious injuries, and there was no tsunami.

My fiancé Jessica and I both work evenings at the Times-Standard and we bring our dog Sophie in on weekends to run around and play. She happened to be sitting in view of the surveillance camera, which shows her reaction before and during the earthquake.

When we saw the video, we really weren't surprised by her reaction — she's always been a very bright and loyal companion. But after we watched the footage a few times, we realized she sensed that before anyone, and at the very least she knew something bad was about to happen. We always knew our dog was smart — but we didn't know she could smell an earthquake coming.