My dog is telling me what time it is

I stopped wearing a watch years ago.

Not because I can tell time looking at my phone.

Not because I’m so carefree I don’t care about the time of day.

All valid, modern reasons.

I don’t wear a watch for one simple reason.

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I have a dog.

My DarlaDog’s sense of time is so spot on,

She is so reliable, Queen Elizabeth could employ her to set Big Ben.

Have you noticed with your best friend, as well, Dear Besotted Dog Loving Reader?

The sound of my dog’s toenails tippy tapping on the hardwood floors downstairs is more reliable than any alarm clock.

It is 6:04.

Time for our morning walk.

Even better,

Time for breakfast.

I can be lost in thought or task,

No matter.

At 4:12 pm, the nudge will come.

“What?” I ask, looking down at white-masked blonde face.

It’s part of the game we’ve played for more than 16 years now.

I swear Darla looks up at the clock on the microwave oven.

“Don’t you see what time it is?” her look says. “Dinner.

I’ve always thought it was Darla’s tummy telling her it’s time to advance this day to the next function.

A new study tells me I’m wrong.

Can you imagine?

Someone gets paid to study their dog?

Talk about career jackpot.

Professor Alexandra Horowitz does this at Barnard College Dog Cognition Lab.

She says dogs can indeed tell time.

But it’s not a tummy tick tock.

Turns out, it’s their nose that’s doing the work.

Yeah, dogs smell time.

Professor Horowitz says dogs smell changes in odors as the day goes on.

Sunrise.

Your leaving for work.

Coming home.

They all have a smell.

Which brings me to the smell I try to ignore each day.

Old dog smell.

The accidents she never used to have.

The doggie breath that long ago lost its puppy charm.

Worse than the stink,

Is the sting.

The information it carries.

Our remaining time together is short.

There’s never enough time when you love your dog.

To have an old dog is to look at her several times a day to see if she’s breathing.

I’ve been scared more than once.

By a sleep so deep I’d swear she’s gone.

Only to be shocked when she scrambles up on those almost useless back legs.

I look at the clock.

Sure enough.

It’s 4:12.

Dinner time.

Or 8:28 pm.

Time for cuddles before more sleep.

When I will lean in,

My nose to her snout,

Rubbing in that perfect spot behind her left ear,

Waiting for her sigh that is one of my favorite sounds of the day.

Her milky brown eyes peer into mine,

Trying to tell me what she knows.

Darla knows what time it is.

The smell of 16 years of days.

I gaze back.

“Please, please, don’t tell me what time it is,” I beg.

I don’t want to know what time it is.

How I wish it could dog o’clock forever.

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