Bernard had always been easily distracted. He could be trotting down the road to get the newspaper and on the way, he’d see a crow with a bit of ham heading down a side street. He’d quickly veer off after it - but then there’d be an intriguing hedge with an enticing scent and he’d feel the need to squeeze himself through that - when suddenly a procession of white rats playing gold tubas would go past, and before he knew it, he’d be dancing the highland fling up a distant mountain. When he eventually got to the paper it would often be a whole different day’s edition.
Possibly it wasn’t just distraction, perhaps some minor time travel was involved as many people are able to do without even realising. You probably know some of them.
They’ll be “just grabbing a coat” and an hour later they emerge like nothing just happened – which it didn’t, for them. They show up on the wrong day to appointments, or they seem to have devoured their meal while you briefly glanced away, and some other reason gets blamed instead of the real one: that they accidentally drifted through a small Time Tunnel which sent them very slightly forwards or backwards in time.
Aside from a couple of wild expeditions that had led him inadvertently through some minor tunnels, an hour or a day here and there, Bernard had lived a pretty ordinary life going steadily forwards in time. That is, until a certain day in early summer when he found a particularly good dumpster to rummage in.
It could have been the magical looking clock he consumed, or the week old tacos he gobbled, who could say – but from that day forward, or rather backwards, or sideways – life was never the same again for Bernard. Suddenly he could see the Time Tunnels, and even read their signs, should he be inclined. He was thus able to intentionally amble through time, and I say amble, because although he had a newfound power of time travel, his character of roving leisurely and getting side-tracked by exciting things along the way did not change. In fact, he moved so slowly and distractedly that he was often still bringing his back legs out of one tunnel when the front legs had gone through the next one. Because of this, you can find him – or parts of his great furry body – spread throughout most times in history (and the future). Have you ever thought you glimpsed something out of the corner of your eye and then there was nothing there?
Or perhaps just his snout, or a paw.
On his travels, he learnt about the rich history of dogs and the different eras they lived in. He saw the many fashions they wore, from glorious ruffs and puffs, to wolf tooth earrings and bone collars, and a short and very strange phase of catsuits.
He particularly relished the era where it was understood that dogs sniffing poles and strange looking patches on walls was an important dog communication system – mostly news and messages with a sprinkle of gossip and love notes, and sometimes great works of literature split into chapters across the town - and that it was rude to pull your dog away before they had added to the conversation themselves. The walks were longer in those times.
He also enjoyed the era where cats and dogs were the best of friends and went on picnics and danced in the moonlight together, howling and yowling and getting up to all sorts of antics before The Great Falling Out (no one knows what it was about, not even the parties involved, but the feud has now passed down through the generations).
But his favourite time was one in the future where a new type of tree had sprung up and the plains of Klah had turned to forests. The trees grew beautiful yellow buds throughout the year, and when they were ready, they burst open, showering the forest with seeds just like the bouncy tennis balls which Bernard loved to chase. In this moment, nothing could distract him, and he moved so fast that anyone observing wondered if he was time travelling.