When we first moved to Exeter, my husband took the Downeaster to work every day. Since the Amtrak station is a five-minute walk from our house, trains arriving and departing are part of the soundscape of our daily life. The northbound 6:40 am is often a Really, You Need To Get Your Ass Out of Bed Now alarm for anyone stealing just five more minutes, and another five, and then another. The midday trains punctuate my lunch if I’ve come home for my break. And the evening trains remind me of one of my favorite intuition stories from those commuting years.

There are two trains from Boston during the weekday rush hour. One leaves North Station at 5 pm and arrives around an hour and ten minutes later, at 6:10 pm. Similarly, the other leaves at 6 pm and arrives at 7:10 pm, barring any delays.

Back then I was usually in the scramble of figuring out what to make for dinner and/or in the middle of making it by 5 pm. But I could always tell which train my husband was on by the behavior of our dogs, Daisy and Pouncey. If at around 5:30 they rose and stretched and came into the kitchen, I knew he was on the earlier train. But if they were still sacked out in whatever hard-napping position they were in, I knew he was on the later one.

It was so accurate I could adjust dinner so we could all eat together. And why, do you ask, didn’t my husband didn’t just call me and let me know he was on his way, you ask? He didn’t have to! Because of the pooches, I just knew.

Whichever train he was on, by the time the whistle began to blow at the far southern edge of town, the dogs were eagerly waiting by the door as I gathered 15 and 16, (who were much, much shorter back then), and we would occasionally walk to the train to see it pull in and greet Daddy.

Animals don’t fight what they know.

What would it be like to be like that?

I mean, we have opposable thumbs, so. Maybe a fair trade, maybe not.

Share your animal stories in the comments!

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