Like many countries, we here in the UK are still hanging on to the rather pointless tradition of putting the clocks back in October, then restoring them to their original time in the Spring. This annoying custom means that it is now dark by 5 pm, and I have had to scurry around changing all those timers and watches that don’t automatically correct themselves.
Being a dog, you would think that Ollie has no concept of time. I like to think of him ruled by nature, waking at dawn, and sleeping when it is dark. But that is far from the case. He is a dog ruled by habit. So controlled by his personal routine, and inner ‘dog-clock’, that if he had been human, he would undoubtedly be considered to be on the Autistic Spectrum.
He goes out in the garden first thing. After completing his patrols of the fence, and along the side of the garage, he waits at the top of the patio stairs until one of us (usually Julie) appears in the kitchen to let him in through the back door. He then has breakfast, always a twisty chew thing, that he loves to eat at that time. Once that has been devoured, he follows me around the house, or sleeps, until it is almost midday. At that time, I have a sandwich, and give him some of it, usually the crusts. He also has his midday ‘stick’, a corrugated chew that is supposed to be good for dental health. After that, he dozes until he sees me getting ready for the habitual walk at 2 pm.
His dinner is normally around 5.30, and if it is late, he will keep putting his head on my leg to remind me. After we have eaten, between 7-7.30, he gets a medium-sized liver-flavoured chew, strangely called a ‘Wonky-Chomp’. I say strangely, because it isn’t wonky. He does chomp it though. He will then happily settle for the evening, until his late night trip into the garden, close to 11 pm. The final treat of the day is a hard Bonio, a bone-shaped biscuit, which he always crunches with delight. Some time after that, he might take himself off to his bed in the kitchen, and sleep soundly until morning.
The next day, he does it all again; his own version of ‘Groundhog Day’, that seems to make him happy.
For the first three years that we had him, we marvelled at the way he adapted to the clocks going forward or back. Despite losing or gaining an hour the next day, he stuck rigidly to his schedule, not expecting treats or a walk any earlier, and unconcerned if they were later. He still appeared at midday for his stick, even though it would have only been 11 am, the day before.
But for some reason, his clock has been disrupted this year.
When the clocks went back last weekend, I expected him to perform his usual magic trick of not noticing, and carrying on as normal. But at 11 am on the next day, there he was, asking for his treat, convinced it should really be midday. By 1 pm, he was turning in circles, agitating for his walk, sure in his own mind that it was 2 pm already. And he has continued like that all week, determined to keep his routine the same as before the clocks gained that hour. After three years of appearing to be unconcerned, he has changed his tune.
I would love to be able to ask him why.