They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but my parents' dog, Ellie, who is getting on a bit, recently learnt how to tell the time. It would appear that the maxim holds true, however, because Ellie wasn't taught how to tell the time, she somehow worked it out for herself.

Ever since Ellie was a puppy, my parents have fed her in the late afternoon, so she soon got into the habit of standing by her bowl with a poor-starving-dog look on her face. She would start at around 2pm, just in case my parents were feeling generous. But, about six months ago, my parents noticed that Ellie had started going to stand by her bowl at exactly the same time every day: 4:35pm. That's not 4:35pm, give or take a couple of minutes, you understand; that's 4:35pm on the dot—you could set your watch by her, apparently.

My parents have no idea how Ellie could know the time to such precision. They have a grandfather clock which chimes on the hour, but Ellie doesn't go to her bowl on the hour; she goes at twenty-five to the hour. They think it's very amusing.

I visited my parents yesterday evening and asked them how Ellie's time-keeping trick had fared last weekend, when the clocks went back. It didn't make a jot of difference, apparently: there she was, standing at her bowl at 4:35pm on Sunday afternoon, looking as hungry as ever.

I reckon Ellie must be the only dog in the world who automatically adjusts for daylight-saving hours.

Filed under: Nonsense

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.


  1. I seem to have found various references to terriers on your site/s.
    I learned whilst stopping with a terier nut in Stockport the reason why they all jump up.
    All terriers evolved from a key crew who were bred to go with the hunt in the 16th 17th century. Only the Patterdale could run all day beside the horses , all the rest ran out of puff and had to be carried. The huntsman would not get off his horse so he took his foot out of the stirrup and the dog would then jump onto the foot and scramble up his leg. Those who could not do it were deemed useless and those genes were eliminated. Nice thought.

    er The rest is history.

  2. A-ha! But, in that case, the human beings would have to have in-built clocks to know when to look at their watcheswhich they clearly don't have, because, if they did, they wouldn't need watches!

    I think I'll go for a lie down.

  3. As the person frequently on the receiving end of the enthusiastic and energetic attention of a friend's three Jack Russell terriers, I think those huntsmen have a lot to answer for.

  4. Look up the Goons sketch 'what time is it, Eccles?' maybe it will answer some of these points.

  5. Why is it that both 'street survey game' & 'watch dog' have the same comments?

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