If you’re a sports fan, you know that March Madness refers to college basketball, but it always brings to my mind the shaking off of deep winter and looking ahead to springtime. There could be a mania to that state of mind—an eagerness to get on with it that results in single-mindedness—a madness if you will. To a lesser extent, you may see changes in your canine companion at this time of year.

At my house, our Daisy is suddenly sleeping more soundly than we’re used to. You’d think it was deep December for her ability to shut out all distractions in the pursuit of slumber. Normally, all we have to do is stir and her head pops up, but lately, we can move all around her snoozing place without a single winking eye, whisker twitch, or jiggle of the paw.

I’ve seen this behavior before with our previous family dogs. When our house was full of young children, the dog was not allowed on the couch simply because it would take up valuable sitting space. So, our beloved Marcus, a black Labrador, would wait until we were out of the house to sneak a nap in the corner of the couch. The couch was black leather, so with his eyes closed, he easily blended in, becoming all but invisible. That camouflage would hardly be necessary under normal circumstances, because the second Marcus was alerted to our arrival, he would hop down and greet us at the door. But around this time of year, when March Madness overtook his senses, he seemed to be lost in slumber. So far down was he, that despite the clamor we must surely have made coming into the house, he was suspiciously missing from his duty as greeter. After removing jackets and shoes in the mudroom and chattering about lunch and what was to come next in our busy day, we found Marcus still asleep on the couch.

At first, I was concerned—thoughts of an emergency trip to the vet threatened—but my mind was quickly put at ease when at my touch, he awoke with a start. He looked utterly astounded that we could be standing over him while he lay sleeping and breaking the rules. He flipped his body upright, jumped to the floor and, hanging his head, skulked off, looking every bit the dog caught in the act. Daisy enjoys the same camouflage when curled up on our cream-colored bedding. Nothing shows but the black rings around her eyes, and not even that if she turns her head into her paws.

It’s not just the sleeping habits that change this time of year. I’ve noticed Daisy’s appetite is more robust. She tucks into her breakfast with gusto and prances in the kitchen by the dog biscuit jar in the early mornings. She seems to have adopted an expectation that it’s part of her routine rather than a treat, and that I’m remiss by taking so long to dole it out. Along with the sun making an earlier arrival in the sky this time of year, so does Daisy want to get on with her day. She beats the alarm clock on weekdays, poking her cold, wet nose into any exposed skin on my husband’s side of the bed. It’s very effective and she’s efficient about getting her way. If he doesn’t get up, but shifts away instead, she comes to my side of the bed and puts her paw up—a not-so-subtle hint to get moving. The neighborhood rooster has got nothing on Daisy’s March Madness. I’m usually well into brewing coffee and reaching for a dog biscuit before the rooster crows. Maybe roosters are sleeping more soundly too. An upside to this time of year is that Daisy seems to be holding onto her fur better. You’d think the opposite would be true, but the weather isn’t warm—not by a long shot. I, for one, am enjoying less shedding and all the clean-up that goes with it. As much as I love stroking her beautiful bunny-soft fur, not coming away with a handful of white fluff is a welcome break. And not having to wash things twice just to get the hair out means much less work all around. She’s an Olympic-grade shedder alright, just not this time of year. And for some reason, Daisy has found her voice. I don’t mean barking, although the local moose population would disagree. I mean she’s talking like a husky talks. In her own unique way, she tells me all about it, regardless of what ‘it’ is. Car rides have changed too. Lately, they are filled with anxious whining, whimpering, and more vocalizing. Of course, the car ride anxiousness could be because more animals are stirring around, filling the air with intriguing scents, or the moisture of melting snow could be enhancing the scent of plant decay. That’s got to be intriguing to the discerning sniffing ability of a dog. Regardless of the cause, the symptoms fall under the heading of March Madness.

It would be helpful if, like people, dogs could have a hobby—something to train for to perfect in the coming season. If Daisy were human, she could ease her seasonal angst by practicing her golf swing, for instance, or jogging on days when the weather warms so she could compete in the summer. She could find her legs on a mountain bike in order to tackle challenging trails this season. And when the spring storms that will surely be on the horizon hit, she could tune her bike for optimum performance. Ahead of hiking season, there’s still a bit of skiing to be had, and snowshoeing in the high country. So many pre-season activities to occupy the wait. Maybe it’s not March Madness at all, but rather our rescue dog’s ever-changing personality traits coming to light. For certain, she’s gotten more affectionate since her arrival a year and a half ago. She’s ditched some of her bad habits and picked up some rather funny ones. All remains to be seen whether these are seasonal changes or simply Daisy being Daisy. Until more evidence is gathered, I’m chalking it up to March Madness.

“It would be helpful if, like people, dogs could have a hobby… ”