As I write this, Georgia sighs heavily and collapses on the wood floor of my office. She stretches out on the hard, cool surface and groans. She looks up at me through one squinted eye for a half-second before closing it in despair.
This poor dog, who has only played ball twice today, has been lying at my feet on the cushioned ottoman under my desk for the last hour. But it’s too hot for cuddling, and the cushion isn’t supportive enough for her spine. Her sigh, her groan, and her entire demeanor tells me: I’m way behind on her latest deadline for going outside and having fun.
My writing deadlines do not matter to Georgia.
She and Jed and Fred reminded me when dinnertime rolled around. Melissa and Truman were no less concerned, but they hung back and depended on their colleagues to sound the alarm. The dogs’ internal clocks on the dinnertime deadline are never late by more than five minutes (but often early by as much as an hour).
I fed the dogs of Dragonfly Pond Farm on time, and they approved of my diligence. Then I fell down on the job again.
Again, they are disappointed by my lackadaisical attitude toward the scheduling of my daily activities.
My dogs do not understand the deadlines that involve me sitting in a chair and looking at a lighted screen while tapping my fingers randomly on some flat piece of plastic. The chimes and sounds that emanate from the black boxes on my desk are not one bit impressive or convincing to them. According to my dogs, I am willfully wasting time that could be much better spent tossing the ball or picking blueberries or taking naps (naps in which they would be invited to participate, of course).
You’d think an animal communicator would be able to convince a few good dogs of my very excellent reasons for sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time. But how many hours of human inactivity = how many dog toys is an unfortunately obscure equation for most canines to compute.
According to the dogs of my acquaintance, all deadlines should be completed before the sun goes down each day. Deadlines for going outside for sunrise potty breaks are important, as are deadlines for playtime, lunchtime, naptime, dinnertime, and bedtime. But deadlines that don’t produce immediate and observable benefits during one circadian cycle are of no value.
I was hopeful that I could have a conversation with Georgia that I could relate to anyone who is struggling to balance work-at-home work with their dogs’ enrichment activities. I was hoping I could explain matters in a way that makes sense to everyone and achieves some sort of agreement about how to proceed.
I’m sorry. It’s not possible.
Our deadlines don’t make sense to them, but theirs are of vital importance to everyone. The dogs win this round, and we humans will have to get with the program.
Next week, we’ll talk about cats, and you’ll feel lucky that the dogs were so easy on us.