Friday, February 12, 2010

The Earthquake Freak

If the ground moves and chasms open beneath your feet, if walls sway and concrete foundations crack and crumble, if your prized collections jump off the shelving, you may be in the middle of a mild to severe earthquake.

The New Madrid earthquake of 1812 registered 7.2 on the Richter scale and claims to be the the greatest recorded quake in US. The fault, named for a small Missouri boothill town near the Mississippi River, produced 1,874 tremors between 1811 and 1812, The greatest tremor was Feb. 7, 1812 and was felt over 1 million sq. miles from Canada to Boston to New Orleans. Witnesses said the earth and river convulsed and rolled creating new lakes, rivers, valleys and hills. Others claimed the Mississippi River reversed its course for a short time.

Since I've lived in northern Arkansas we have experienced the effects of small tremors. Interestingly, some 'quakes announce themselves with an audible sound similar to a clap of thunder.

The recent cataclysmic Haitian earthquake stirred my memory of a supposed phenomenon: cats, dogs and other animals may predict earthquakes. Several studies have attempted to prove this theory but results are mixed. If a dog is barking at nothing, this does not prove the imminent danger of an earthquake. National Geographic News has an article on this subject,too.

The dogs in my life have never predicted an earthquake but they become increasing agitated and squirrely when the ground or other surfaces beneath them begin to move. My Moroccan German Shepherd tried to recline but kept rising and examining the shaking floor in a somewhat circular movement. The Moroccan 'quake was a mild one.

The tremors in Arkansas were mild; the Shepherds reacted in similar fashion. None barked in the manner described by the animal advocates who claim dogs can predict earthquakes.

Has Luckie endured an earthquake? I don't know. At least two years of her life was spent being abused by a man, sometimes as stray. We rescued her at the Humane Society where she was deposited by a female friend of the abuser. Her words were, 'I am bringing this dog and litter to you, before he beats the living s--t out of her.'

We quickly found out she loves to ride in cars and trucks. She curls up and sleeps quietly with occasional scanning the fleeting landscape for chipmunks. If she is in the front rider's seat she often sits like a person looking out the front window-best best-love-to go-for-a-ride dog we ever had!

But vehicles are one matter; other movement beneath her itsy-bitsy feet freaks her out.

She picked a dilapidated lift chair recliner as her favorite spot when she first entered our home. She quickly learned it was only hers, and all others were off-limits. She does have rare occasional lapses of memory.

She is also allowed to sleep in our adjustable beds.

The chairs and the beds have common features: they move and/or vibrate on demand. One lift recliner and the adjustable beds vibrate. When you activate either movement or vibration she is immediately airborne, retreating to another room or out the doggy door.

The adjustable beds shake the flooring and produce a rather loud noise. The lift recliner is mild vibration and noise.

Why does she flee the moving, and/or vibrating chairs and beds, but loves a ride in a vehicle?

Recently, I've activated the vibration system of my lift recliner in the evening, about her bedtime. She expressed anxiety by pacing, ears laid back tightly, between three rooms and out the doggy door until the timer shut off the vibrator.

When she passed through my room she leaned on the farthest wall from me. Her angst was stronger than ever before.

Cats and dogs can predict earthquakes--fact or fiction?

Is an earthquake imminent?

Is Luckie an earthquake freak?

Or might her spooky behavior be related to her idiopathic epilepsy aura?

1. New Madrid sign (Internet)
2. Luckie and her Lift chair Recliner (an early photo I took of her)
3. Luckie, husband napping in unison (I caught this pose one Sun. afternoon)


Arkansas Patti said...

If dogs barking at nothing is an earthquake warning,then Mighty has alerted me to hundreds that I was unable to feel.:))
Hope the burp of the New Madrid near Chicago keeps it happy for a long time.
Poor Luckie before she found her. She certainly is blessed now.

Anonymous said...

I must say they look comfortable.

I had heard of the earthquake. I guess at the time not many people lived around in the area so it was not in the news then like it would be today,

Screwed Up Texan said...

When we were living in Utah, my husband and I heard a loud crashing bang, almost like thunder, but no shaking. It wasnt a gun of any sorts or anything we had ever heard. We lived in a rural area on his grandparents farm and have always wondered what it was.

I dont think I have ever been in an earthquake, but I am hoping that if I ever am, I am in the middle of a very flat field.

Dimple said...

I don't know if animals can predict earthquakes, but they do seem to have a different perception of what is scary! My dog was also abused as a pup, and she still doesn't like men very well. I understand when she shies away from them, and why she tries to run away when told, "Come here." But sometimes I have no idea what has made her jump and shy!
Thanks for the comment on my pile of leaves!

Small City Scenes said...

We live in earthquake territory too. West coast fault. Most are minor and nobody but the U of W seismagraph notices them. The last really big one here was--that i felt--was in 1965. It roared and the trees swayed all in different directions. We did get a crack in our foundation but nothing serious. In Seattle and Olympia lots of damage.

As for Luckie she really is a Lucky pup. Thank you on her behalf. MB

Amber Star said...

After the Haiti quake they showed a clip from a security camera of a dog. Right before the quake that dog took off like a lightning bolt. I think he/she felt the beginning trembles and decided to get out while the gettin' was good.
If I'm somewhere and a dog takes off..I'm out, too.

Luckie was such a lucky dog to be rescued by you. She lives a good life...and so do you.

I think/thought we live on the Balcones Fault that runs up this way from Austin, but some people said no. So, I don't know.

While I was going to school in Cuernavaca there was a small quake in Mexico City. I didn't feel anything and wouldn't have ever known, but the mother of the house told me about it.