Bear’s Notion of Time

“No, Bear. It won’t almost be winter. It will be the beginning of summer.”

“You mean summer hasn’t even started yet?”

“I’m sorry.”

“So what’s so good about it?”

“After tomorrow, the days will start getting shorter, and instead of heading north, the sun will appear to go south.”

“I don’t understand anything you said, Martha.”

“It means we’ll be going in the direction of winter instead of going in the direction of summer.”

“How do you know this?”

“It’s on the calendar. It’s how humans know what day it is.”

“Wow. I really don’t understand that.”

“Humans have all these systems to keep track of time so they know when to do something and can make plans for the future.”


“Tomorrow, next month, next year.”

“Sometimes you say ‘tomorrow’ to me. That means ‘no.'”

“‘Tomorrow doesn’t mean ‘no’. It means not right now.”

“I thought ‘later’ meant that.”

“Later does mean that. It’s two words we have to express time in the future.”

“Words are confusing aren’t they, human.”

“Yes, they are very confusing. But you tell time. I can know what time it is by what you do, Bear. You know when I will feed you. You know all the various times when you can expect to go on a walk. You know when I usually wake up. You are a very strict dog about those things.”

“That’s so I know you’re all right. If everything happens when it’s supposed to, I know things are all right and I don’t have to go kill something. It’s not about time. It’s about keeping you and Teddy safe from harm.”

“Oh Bear.”

21 thoughts on “Bear’s Notion of Time

  1. I just read something interesting about time. Until the 14th century, the length of an “hour” varied with the calendar year — something about solar time rather than clock time. Since they didn’t have clocks, they’d just divide the sun’s path into segments (“hours”) with each segment being longer or shorter depending on the season. It sounded kind of liberating, actually 🙂

  2. Some dogs seem to have a very good concept of time. I used to have one that knew what time we would come home from work and others seem to know the difference between five minutes and an hour. I think they all interpret later as either “not now”, “five minutes” or “go away”.

    • Bear has an incredibly acute sense of time, way more than any of the other dogs I’ve had. She comes in to go to bed at exactly 9 pm. In the winter she comes to get me for a walk at exactly 1. I understand that it’s part of what it means to be a livestock guardian dog.

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