So I never knew dogs could tell time, among other things
I’m not sure if my beagle, Ringo’s muffled woof last Sunday was the kind he uses to remind me it’s time for him to be fed.
Or because it was 5:45 a.m. and not the usual 5:15 and that he was letting me sleep in a little on Father’s Day?
Ringo seems to be able to tell time twice daily — around 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. when he gets his rations of Iams — fearful I’m sure that if not fed on time his 32-pound frame might instantly waste away.
Ever since the kids slowly migrated away over the last 10 years, the dog has taken their place as the one who lounges around on the sofa, the chair, the bed, or during the summer mornings, sunning himself on the deck.
We have a funny doormat that says it all. “Our dog is dyslexic. He thinks he’s God.”
And if that isn’t true in the broader sense, it certainly seems to be at our house at least. In 36 years of marriage, dogs — and for a while cats and their fur — have been pretty much constant companions.
They’ve brought us immense joy in their prime and gigantic tears at the time of their various passings.
It all began when my wife came home from her teaching job in 1978 with a little all black pug-nose pup that one of her co-workers said needed a new home.
We obliged and made Otis part of our new family.
For some odd reason we began the tradition of naming out pets after a variety of celebrities. The first, a sinister black stray cat we named for some reason after former brutal Kenyan dictator, Idi Amin.
Perhaps naming that little Schipperke after singer Otis Redding of “Sitting on the dock at the bay” fame was penance?
Otis and an all-black long haired mixed breed, also a stray, wandered to school and also found our home to be hers and as Mother Nature would have it Otis and Tina Turner decided to have a family.
Mork and Mindy were born in the dusty cellar of our first home. While Mork went to live with friends, Mindy never left home and in fact lived in all three homes on which we’ve paid mortgages.
Otis lived with us the longest, nearly 14 years. He camped, he traveled and was a great dog. Except, perhaps, in the eyes of one family at the Chewelah City Park.
While panicking over a bee that ended up in the cab of our tiny Datsun, we stopped to get rid of it. Otis suddenly leapt out the open window and took a curious stroll amongst the many picnickers, promptly lifting his leg on a big brown bag lunch sack at an unattended site.
We gathered him up and hit the road again in record time.
Next came the first of what is now a long run of beagles with Elvis. He came home from the puppy factory in some remote part of land east of Colville and made himself welcome with a “deposit” on the rug in front of the kitchen sink.
Among the better memories from Elvis was his belting out a tune after taking a day rafting trip on the Salmon River. Not at all being a water dog, he was so glad to see shore after a series of Class III rapids that he began to bark and howl in a tone that made someone on shore ask, “Is there a seal somewhere?”
Elvis contracted cancer, which slowly took his vision. The tears rolled when we took him to the vet for the shot.
After a couple of months to let the sadness subside my wife began the search for her new dog and found him at a breeder. I’ll never forget the first glimpse of this beyond cute puppy with ears that honestly touched the ground as he walked about on Father’s Day 2006.
Beagles we found in Ringo’s case are notoriously the definition of the term ”chow hound.” Where Elvis was an anomaly in that you could leave food in his dish all day and he’d eat whenever, Ringo would devour the entire bag if he could.
So hence we were told to set specific feeding times, which we’re sure somehow taught Ringo to tell time.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.