Sure, they’re only animals, but the stories are hard to ignore. People who appreciate animals, who notice, who listen, say they’re not just animals. At least, not any more than humans are just animals.

Read on for stories from area readers about the perhaps not-so-unusual connections their pets have made with them, animal to animal.

Mayhap it’s misery being visible or ESP, but every animal in the house is dead quiet when I have a migraine.

— Anonymous

Before every storm the (pet) rats shore up their nest beds. I’ve never been surprised by a sudden storm.

— Anonymous

The people I dog sit for oftentimes have to stay away longer than intended, and the dogs get (to see more of) me. Somehow those dogs know and tell me when their people will be returning before they even call and let me know they’re on their way home.

— Anonymous

The best judge of character is an animal. People may get an adverse first impression and fight to overcome it and “give someone a chance.” I’ve learned first instincts count. If I’d listened to my pets, many people would have been out of my life much sooner.

— Anonymous

My rat Rishtie, when young, learned of my phobia of spiders and, later when we moved, how I didn’t want wild mice creeping in. She became the killer of all that trespassed, depositing bugs and eviscerated mice in a lid by the trash can. When I’d get sick, the girls (pet rats) would come over to check that I was still breathing. They learned to fetch vapor rub and ChapStick, and bring tissues one at a time. Many have learned to become alert when someone pulls in the drive, a few learning to alert me with bell ringing. I’ve had a few really special animals with an uncanny intelligence, and I’ve had some as dumb as bricks. But they were all pretty smart in their own way. They learned simple rules and were rewarded according to how well they behaved.

— Anonymous

A few years ago, we adopted a very large male cat from our local animal shelter. Our granddaughter Cora in the South named him Mr. Sushi. He is very handsome, with long white hair with patches of black. We knew he was very smart when we saw him open the porch door to let himself outside. He also takes the brush from me with both paws and places it on the side of his face where he wants to  be scratched. What really amazed me was to find him completely stretched out along my husband’s back, a Parkinson’s patient, when he was all uncovered on a cold winter night. (Mr. Sushi always slept in his own bed nearby, all curled up.) My husband also has sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. Early one evening he made a loud snoring, gasping noise and Mr. Sushi ran at bullet speed from another room and jumped up on the bed beside him as if he knew he was in danger and needed to protect him. Animal ESP — I think so!

— Gloria Pillsbury, Farmington

I have a dog, Molly, that knows when I am sad or need some attention. She will be very attentive and stay with me when I am upset. My two kittens, Mickey and Mallory (bet you can guess why we named them that), know when it is going to be windy; they go crazy for a few hours before a storm. My mother always said when a cat acts like that, the wind is going to blow. And I thought she was giving me her usual wives’ tail, but after many years I have realized she was right about a lot of things. So I hope you know that I believe you now Mom. Wish I could have told her while she was still around.

—Pat, Mechanic Falls

My cat, Atticus, came from a shelter. He had been a stray for several months back in 2001 before someone caught him and took him there. His special talent still surprises me. I can be sitting in a chair reading, not moving, and he somehow knows when I am going to get up. I don’t know how he figures this out! Even if I don’t move a muscle or make any indication that I’m planning to get up, still, he somehow knows and will come and jump up on my lap and settle down for a snooze . . . even if he has paid no attention at all to me before this! ESP? I don’t know. And if he knows, he’s not talking.

 — Pat Gardiner, Lewiston

Oreo is my 11-year-old kitty who reminds me to say my prayers every morning. He waits at my door in the morning, sits next to me while I have breakfast, and if I don’t return to my room to say my morning prayers following breakfast, he follows me around the house and meows loudly until I do. Then he sits quietly next to me until I’m done. He started that shortly after we rescued him when he was a little over a year old.

— Claudette Therriault, Sabattus

My mother loved animals and she often looked after my dog when I was away until she became ill with Alzheimer’s. The disease took her away from us for 15 years. During her final week, she lay helpless in her bed. My dog would pace back and forth from her room to the den several times a day. One morning as I was repositioning her, the dog walked into the room and placed her front paws on her bed while panting heavily. She never climbed on furniture, but that morning, she was determined to be near. My mother passed away the following day and the dog would not let my father out of her sight. She began to follow him around the house and sleep on the floor on his side of the bed. She even followed him to the bathroom and waited while he took his shower. She was a sweet and loyal pet that provided us with comfort during a very stressful time.

— Sue Johnson, Buckfield

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