Thursday, February 17, 2005

Pippen the Atomic Clock

My fancy computer can't keep accurate time without the aid of NTP. Very few of the clocks in my house actually read the same time. Pippen, on the other hand, has apparently descended from a long line of highly time-sensitive dogs.

Ever since the great diarrhea accident of 2004, we have been forced to feed Pippen hypoallergenic food on a set schedule 4 times a day. Previously we had free-fed the dog, so she could eat as much as she wanted whenever the mood struck. Now Pippen gets a fourth of a cup of food in the morning, afternoon, evening and before bed. And she would like me to tell you a fourth of a cup of kibble is more like an appetizer then an actual meal.

Pippen has always had a pretty good idea of what time it was, at least in terms of knowing approximately when people might be arriving home from work or when it might be time to move from the bed to the living room to catch a nap in a sunbeam or two.

Now that she spends all day with her stomach trying to eat through her spine (or so she tells me), she has become obsessed with feeding time. While we make dinner, she sits by her bowl alternately staring at us, and then at the empty bowl. Occasionally she will stagger over and give the empty bowl a lick, just to make sure no crumbs were missed during the previous feeding frenzy.

So, what does this have to do with atomic clocks, you might ask. Well, that comes into play for the morning and midnight snack meals. You see, Pippen has gotten the timing down for both of those meals. To within 5 minutes. Most evenings I feed her the last meal around 10pm. At 9:55 every night Pippen wakes up from a dead sleep on the bed and runs through the house to find me. She then spends 5 minutes sitting at my feet staring at me, shifting her weight from foot to foot and whining.

The morning is worse, as she has taken to waking me up exactly 5 minutes before my alarm would go off. At precisely 5:17am every day she again wakes up from a dead sleep, and crawls over to stretch across my neck and lick my face. This, despite the fact that I don't actually feed her until later, after I have had a shower.

In the ultimate insult, immediately following her morning meal Pippen heads back and sits in front of the bedroom door, until I let her back in to go back to bed. As if to say "I only wanted some breakfast, I don't actually want to spend any time with you".

Unfortunately, despite her uncanny time-telling abilities, she has not figured out that two days a week I have no desire to be up at 5:30 am.

How can a dog go from soundly sleeping to wide awake at exactly the same time day in and day out? And if I gave in and fed her at 9:55, would she be up at 9:50 the next night, slowly but surely attempting to get the meals combined into one gluttonous stomach-stretching feast?


Brenden Johnson said...

To answer your two questions at the end:

1. Sophisticated Dogtronics.
2. Yes. But I think you should experiment to validate these findings.

Steve Eck said...

Well, that cleared that up. Thanks. :)