So, here we are again on Daylight Saving Time, that time of year when we lose an hour out of our day.
If you're used to getting up at 7 a.m., you've noticed it's a little darker outside than it was last week. And if you're used to having dinner at 7 p.m., it may seem like it's just way too early to be eating.
I've often wondered: Does the time change affect our canine family members?
I started getting an answer when my Ella first came to live with me. It was November, and all through that winter, when I got up around 8, it would be light. Ella learned that was time for breakfast.
Then as spring approached, it started getting light earlier and earlier. Soon she was waking me up earlier and earlier. The sun was up, so she figured I should be, too!
When you work the night shift, 6:30 a.m. comes awfully early.
After it came time to "spring forward," I got to sleep in a bit because it wasn't light so darn early.
Now that she's older -- and because she learned she really was going to be fed twice a day, every day -- she has adjusted a bit better. The last couple of years, she has not been so adamant about getting up at the crack of dawn.
Indeed, on those rare mornings when I have to get up real early, before dawn, both my pups look at me like I'm crazy and then roll over and go back to sleep.
So it turns out dogs also have circadian rhythms, the body's biological system of timekeeping that regulate sleep and hunger.
Dogs do best, especially rescue dogs, when they are put on a schedule, but it can be hard to keep to those schedules when the daylight rules the roost.
Alison Holdhus-Small, a research assistant at CSIRO Livestock Industries, an Australia-based research and development organization, weighed in on time changes for an article in The Dogington Post, an online newspaper all about dogs.
Holdhus-Small advises that behavior shifts can indeed cause animals psychological and physiological stress. She uses an example of a cow's udder, which will continue to produce milk regardless
of how the clocks are set and pressure will build up until the cow is milked. She also advises that household pets might get grumpy when they show up to an empty food dish at their perceived dinner time.
So when we spring forward or fall back, your dogs may need some help adjusting.
The Dogington Post article has a good suggestion for easing your dogs' transition to time changes.
Some dogs will take the change in stride, but if yours seem to be especially befuddled, try adjusting his routine in short increments, perhaps 15 minutes a day, rather that switching to a new schedule by a full hour.
Hopefully, your dogs (and you) will make the transition a bit easier.
M.K. Means, Herald copy editor, can be reached at 941-745-7054.