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Sixth scents: Occult historian explains psychic dogs

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They can smell the future!

An expert in amazing animal phenomena will reveal the hidden history of dogs with mental and psychic powers in Bushwick on May 16. The stories of clairvoyant canines were too strong to be denied, said lecturer Paul Koudounaris.

“When I realized the depth of the topic and how it was ignored, I wanted to study the topic,” said Koudounaris, who has also given lectures about sea-going cats and sexy ghosts. “I started researching psychic overtones and tried to debunk them — the first thing I do is try to find a way to debunk them.”

But some stories could not be debunked — and Koudounaris will share the incredible tails of some of the world’s most famous clairvoyant canine, including a dachshund from late-1930s Germany named Kurwenal, and an American-born Llewellyn setter named Jim the Wonder Dog, he said.

Kurwenal would communicate by barking the alphabet — one bark for “A,” two for “B,” etc. — and used this talent to spell out speeches that opposed the Nazi regime, Koudounaris said.

“When Hitler came to power, Kurwenal had publicly spoken out against Hitler,” he said. “Something like 70 researchers in one year went to try to debunk him and everyone came back a believer that he had genuine psychic powers of some kind.”

The politically-minded pooch passed away shortly after Hitler was elected, said Koudounaris.

“The Nazis were not initially consolidated enough in power, and they had many other pressing things on their agenda aside from talking dogs, so nothing happened to Kurwenal,” he said.

Another mentalist mammal, Jim the Wonder Dog, from Missouri in the 1920s, was able to understand any language — even in Morse code, said Koudounaris.

Jim’s owner would ask the psychic setter a question — to find the man in the room who drives a white truck, for instance — and like clockwork, Jim would put his paw on the right person, said Koudounaris. In an effort to appease skeptics, Jim’s owner started asking the questions in foreign languages, and Jim would still surprise everyone.

“In Morse code, he could still answer the question,” he said. “When you get to that level where you’ve taken away so many possible variables where you could tip an animal off, it starts to become very compelling.”

Dogs are welcome at the lecture, and Koudounaris will discuss how to determine if your furry companion possesses supernatural powers. But putting your pup through rigorous psychological testing is not always the way to find out, Koudounaris said.

“Honestly, you just sometimes have to have faith,” he said. “The more rigorous the testing procedure you institute, the worse the subject does. You kind of know, I think in your heart, what your animal knows.”

Despite his research on mentalist mutts, Koudounaris says his first love is for felines.

“I’m actually a cat guy, which is the irony of this,” he said. “I’m not a dog person.”

“Psychic Dogs” lecture at Living Gallery (1094 Broadway at Dodworth Street in Bushwick, www.atlasobscura.com). May 16 at 8 pm. $18.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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