The first day of the new year didn't so much dawn as it oozed into existence, the heavy cloud cover preventing anything remotely resembling a sunrise. A nearly invisible snow was falling, so fine that 24 hours of snowfall has yet to yield more than a dusting on the ground. Even the motionless trees, bare tangles of branches against the featureless sky, showed no sign of putting on a hint of sparkle for winter, for the new day, or the new year. In spite of all this, the dog stuck her cold, wet nose under the covers in a cheerful attempt to rouse me from my grumbling slumber. No sleeping in with Sadie on the job.
And so I ponder: What is a new year to a dog? For that matter, what is a new day? It seems a dog can tell time of sorts, sensing when a mealtime is past or, more dramatically, waiting for the regular arrival of a family member at the appointed hour. Even our own biological clocks have a way of waking us before the alarm goes off. But knowing it is time for something is not the same as knowing that time has past. Perhaps, to the dog, life is only periods of sleeping and waking, night time and day time, with no sense of what came before or what is to come, interspersed with periodic alarms that signal when it is time to be fed or to greet the children when the bus drops them off from school. How odd it must seem to the dog when those children head off to college and their appearance no longer fits any discernible pattern in their timeless existence.
Perhaps that is why Sadie has developed such separation anxiety. Just the slightest hint of a suitcase being packed and she will dart out of the door at the earliest possible instant, run into the garage and scamper excitedly between the cars, looking back at me to see which vehicle door will be opened to admit her wiggly bottom. It is the saddest part of leaving the Adirondacks for my job in Connecticut, that look of grief in Sadie's eyes as if to ask, "Why are you leaving me again? Haven't I loved you enough?" when I scoot her back into the house and close the front door between us. Standing on her hind legs, her front paws and nose just reach the bottom of the window as she stares mournfully out at my receding figure. Or maybe she just wants to go for a ride and I only project my own sense of loss onto her seemingly baleful expression.
But, all that is for another day. Today, at this moment, she only knows I have slept in beyond her breakfast and it is time for me to crawl out of the warm cocoon of my bed and feed her. And, I, human, am alone left to ponder my own mortality with the passage of time through the greying of my beard and aging of my offspring.