I've got to have a serious chat with the fleabags. My four-legged alarm clocks haven't been working properly.

It used to be the dogs got me up in the morning -- occassionally way earlier than I wanted to be up. The boxer especially has the tendancy to be very active at 3 or 4 in the morning. But lately, I've been the one getting them up -- I usually have to carry both the Shih Tzu and the old dog Chester to the door to get them out. The boxer too has to be dragged to door to get her to go out.

At first I thought it was just the weather, as it's been unseasonably cold; and the time change with springing forward a few weeks ago didn't help either. But even with the warmer weather and the sun rising earlier, the dogs aren't getting up like they should.

It isn't as though they aren't getting enough sleep. They sleep practically all day. If the weekend is any indication, they sleep about 22 hours of the day.

The old dog spends most of the day snoozing in the sunny spot on the couch. He loves it there, and heavon help you if you try to move him. You'll get a threatening growl and risk getting nipped if you try to persuade him to leave.

The Shih Tzu tends to favor Isaac's seat on the couch when he's not there -- though he doesn't always give that spot up easily when he is there. He'll hop on my lap when I'm home -- assuming he isn't mad at me for not being home.

Even the wiley boxer spends a lot of time snoozing on easy chair. She's alway the first one in bed, because the other dogs won't let sleep there if she waits, and she's the last dog to get out of bed, if you don't count the early morning romps.

I also thought changing their feeding time might make a difference. To prevent accidents, we moved it an hour later, but changing it back didn't do any good. I've also considered feeding them in the morning rather than the evening, but somehow I think that will only lead to the dogs wanting to be fed at 3 in the morning.

But it's clear I need to give them a reason to get up other than just dragging them out of the bed. So before I go to work I've made a point to ruffle the the Shih Tzu's fur before I leave and tell him he's my best buddy, pat Chester on the head and tell he's a good dog and pull the boxer's ears and tell her to be good.

I've also set my alarm clock, because I don't think the dogs are going to get any less lazy in the morning. I can't say I blame them. I'd sleep in too, if I could.