Rooney, The Time-Telling Canine Wonder

by | Oct 17, 2017 | Editorial

We’ve all known intelligent dogs, and despite what some experts may tell us, those of us who have lived with them know that they definitely do have some interesting thought processes. We can see it in their eyes and by their actions.

Once upon a time my husband and I had a beagle-lab who would pick up her empty food and water bowls with her mouth and deposit them into the open suitcases we had set out to pack for a camping trip. Was she thinking about ensuring that she would not be left behind? Of course she was!
Alas, not only are my tent-camping days long behind me, but so are the days of delighting in a pet. Years ago, I developed allergies to all creatures furry and feathery and now can only admire them from afar. Which brings me to the present day, and Rooney. Rooney is the beautiful, beloved little ginger-haired Pomeranian belonging to my friend and calligraphy teacher, DeAnn Singh. DeAnn gives workshops and private lessons in her inviting home studio of Designing Letters, and Rooney sits like an all-seeing little emperor on his very own throne, carefully observing all the proceedings. Except, that is, on the one afternoon a week when I come for my lesson. At that time DeAnn asks Rooney to leave because of my allergies (of course she asks: you don’t exactly tell Rooney anything.)
Rooney, needless to say, is not pleased by this dismissal. Sometimes he won’t budge at first. Often, he tries to stare me down. But eventually, DeAnn prevails and the little guy leaves. This has been going on for more than seven years, but a bit of background is in order. In the early days once Rooney left, DeAnn would close the door. And Rooney, lest we miss the extent of his displeasure, would bark. And bark. Relentlessly. Then one day DeAnn had the brilliant idea of asking Rooney to leave but keeping the door open. This seemed to please him. He knew he wasn’t supposed to enter the studio while I was there, but in case he really, really wanted to, all he had to do was saunter over the threshold.

He rarely does so. He may doze in a patch of sunlight, observe from a distance, or find something more interesting with which to occupy himself for the three hours each week when I encroach on his territory. But here’s the really fascinating part: DeAnn and I meet from 1:00-4:00 P.M. each week. Rooney will grudgingly escort me in and then as per DeAnn’s request he will walk out. But at 4:00 on the dot— every single week— Rooney walks back into the studio, cocks his little head at me and gives me a sharp look that unequivocally says, “Okay, lady, your time’s up. My turn.”
How does Rooney know it’s 4:00? He comes in to dismiss me whether or not I’ve begun packing up my work, and whether or not DeAnn and I have begun saying our good-byes—so there are no visual or audio cues. He does this whether the sun is shining or the day is dark and cloudy, and even on a week when we’ve just changed the clock. So the sun is not a cue. There is no bell to signal the end of class as in a school building. There is no grandfather clock chiming in the adjacent house nor a Big Ben somewhere announcing the hour to the entire neighborhood. Nonetheless, Rooney marches in every week at precisely 4:00 to show me the door. How on earth does he know?
DeAnn and I have no idea. Rooney truly is a time-telling canine wonder. And an exquisite one at that!