Dogs Can’t Tell Time


Dogs can’t tell time, and that’s often a comfort to me. .

When I dropped my dogs off at the kennel in March, I intended to be back in ten days. I gave each of them loving pats and hugs, and assured them that I’d be home soon. My planned one-week-in Hawaii vacation became complicated, however, by lock-downs and restrictions due to Covid-19. It was a full month before I made it home. I had missed the dogs terribly, and knew they’d be happy to see me, too. My mind was eased, though, knowing that they didn’t really register how long I’d been away.

Sometimes it seems like dogs can tell time. One of my sisters keeps an eye on her dogs remotely with a “nanny-cam.” Sure enough, when it’s just about time for her husband to pull into the driveway, they rouse themselves and move toward the door. My dogs know when they should get their dinner, and if anything keeps me from noticing the time, they are quick to remind me. Likewise, when it gets close to ten o’clock at night, they know it’s bedtime.

Work used to keep me away from home for long stretches each day. I’d remind myself that my house-bound companions couldn’t really tell if I was away for four hours, or six, or eight. They would generally just sleep until they heard my car. Rosa Parks, who is getting hard of hearing, would often still be sleeping when I walked in the door.

Now, in these crazy, scary circumstances, I’m home almost all the time. The dogs come with me when I walk. They crowd into the bathroom with me when I get into the shower. They follow me upstairs if I go to work in the studio. When I do leave home, to pick up groceries or the mail, it’s just a quick trip. Sometimes, I just sneak out to put compost in the bin while the dogs are napping.

When I come back through the door, though, whether I’ve been gone ten minutes or two hours, I’m greeted with enthusiasm. They come to meet me with kisses and wagging tails, as if I’d been away a month. Fortunately, dogs can’t tell time!


About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

6 responses »

  1. I think you’re right, but they do look for cues what time of day it is, as you describe. When Hazel and Angie have to go to the kennel, I comfort myself in the knowledge that dogs pretty much live in the present. I don’t think mine know whether I’ve been gone one or fourteen days. Bless them all. I don’t know what I’d do without my two.

  2. The way my mind is working these days it just thought “dogs can’t tell time” and “dogs can tell time”. I may not be able to hold a logical conversation any more by pointing to the paradox of everything. Good morning, Cindy!

    • Hello! So much is paradoxical, it seems. As I point out, of course dogs can tell time…but not to the point where they could hold me accountable for being gone longer than I thought I’d be. And not, thank heaven, well enough that they would feel the need to withhold enthusiastic greetings when I just go out to the garden for a minute! Thanks for reading, Kathy, and for your comments!

  3. I think that dogs can’t “tell time,” but they definitely can tell TIME. Time away from us, their special ones, is not special time. Once we’re with them, then every single second is GOOD TIME. 🙂 xo

    • Yes! That’s a good way to explain it. They certainly have a sense of time…but I like to think my dogs didn’t quite know how long I was “stranded on vacation,” so didn’t feel abandoned for the month I was away. Thanks for reading, Pam, and for your always thoughtful comments!

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