Whenever the power would go off in our home, our Briard (French Shepherd), Asta, would go absolutely snaky. She would twirl like a dervish and whine pitifully. She knew something was up and it probably wasn’t anything good. Thunderstorms and the sudden shrill shriek of the smoke detector would cause her similar anxiety. And while we can relate to the latter two events, her reaction to the power failure is a little more puzzling.

There is a constant hum to our everyday lives, although we rarely notice it. It is the white noise of our automated world, the constant low sizzle of electricity running through our technological veins. Dogs, with their far greater hearing acuity, must be very aware of this noise, although they probably get used to it too, and it constitutes the normal state of their lives, as it does ours. But when the power goes off and there is no sound, clearly dogs are much more acutely aware that something is definitely out-of-place.

I rarely sleep the night, usually waking up at 2 or 3 AM, thoughts of all the shit I have on the go running through my mind. I can usually fall back to sleep, although I’m almost always up for good by 5 or 6 AM. But when I do wake up at those ungodly hours, I must confess, the sounds of all that household automation are very comforting. I can hear the hum of the fridge, the clicking of the thermostat, and the low rumble of the heating system coming on in the Winter. If I have to get up and go to the bathroom, I pass my office with its dozens of little blinking lights from the modem, router, printer, fax, laptop, desktop, and phone system. And I like it! It’s as if all these sounds and lights confirm that there is someone out there making sure that all is well….a god of technology backing up God himself.

And I understand why Asta used to freak out when the power went out. She must have thought it was the end of the world.

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