For many of us Time is such a fleeting, precious commodity it got me wondering about our animals sense of time and do they consider it as hard to come by as we do? God knows neither my horses, dogs or cats seem to stress about time like I do but, how much do they understand of its passage?
For example, now in my 50s I am often reminded of how many years have passed and so quickly. Normally it is only that daily look in the mirror that brings the reality of time crashing in, but then there are those other not so subtle reminders like an invitation to the baby shower of a student that you started teaching when they were not much more than a baby themselves. I often wonder where the time goes and muse at how fast the years whisk by. Are our animals aware of the same concept? Do they realize that they are getting older and that perhaps their time with us is getting shorter with each passing day.
My barn recently had a joint Birthday party (Yes I know I am a little bit crazy) for my horse Pete and my dog Morgan. Pete turned 22 in March and Morgan turned 11 on April 29 so we had a onesy/twosy Royal birthday party since it was the same day as the Royal Wedding. Morgan in particular relished being the center of attention and although I don't know if she understood that it was the day of her birth, she clearly understood that the occasion was for her. Pete on the other hand is an attention hog every day so he was just happy for the extra treats. But do they know that they are both middle aged or better?
I tend to worry and angst about how my animals are and if they miss me or get lonely when I am gone on long trips. My sister loves to tell me that animals do not have a clear concept of time so they don't know they difference between you being gone a day, week or a month. I don't think I agree with that. My dogs are always gleeful at my return even if I have just been gone an hour or two, but I notice a greater velocity to their response when I am returning from a longer absence. What do you think?
Maybe I truly am crazy but I worry about this especially because I have several beloved 4 legged companions that are getting up there in age and I recently lost my favorite cat to kidney disease at age 16. Every time I have to go out of town, are my animals aware that there is less time that we have to spend together?
Now I don't plan on being one of those people who calls her dog from the airport but is there something else I can do to keep my animals from missing me when I am gone. Between horse shows, teaching clinics and pony club testings, I travel a lot more in the summer so I am open for any suggestions. I have people the animals know take care of them when I am gone but they still sometimes act funny when I am gone for longer periods. The dogs get depressed and mope around and sometimes my horse Pete goes off his feed. The cats are the only ones that seem to do fine but they certainly lecture me when I return.
What do you think? Do you experience the same thing with your animals when you travel?