Who doesn’t like picnics, barbeques, and blowing stuff up? It’s awesome. And when you look back on all the history of the 4th and what our founding fathers and early settlers were celebrating it is really quite inspirational. The ideals, the troubles, the perseverance and fortitude was nothing but admirable and a damn good thing to commemorate and celebrate.
Our first dog, Sadie, was a blessing in so many ways. As it happens, we brought her home as a 3-month old puppy just a week or so before the 4th of July. Not knowing any better or assuming otherwise, we brought her with us to a firework display in town. We sat on a blanket in a park with hundreds of others directly below the display. I mean, we were in the best damn spot to see, hear, and feel the most of the percussive boom as the fireworks exploded. I love the boom. I love it more than the colors or displays. It’s powerful. It can be scary. It’s damn good entertainment.
Sadie didn’t mind a bit. In fact, she slept on the blanket next to us during the whole show and never once reacted. This was true her entire life. Thunder, pots banging, backfires, balloons popping… nothing phased her. Not at all. Maybe it was her border collie heritage? After all what good is a border collie in the field that runs from a storm?
Anyway, we were lucky. Most dogs do not like loud noises. Thunder and fireworks are the worst. The news today was reporting from a local animal shelter who took in no less than 15 dogs who ran away during firework displays last night. Most of them were not from the organized city-endorsed displays. Most were from the neighbors out on the street doing their thing like we all used to. The fact that all cities around here have banned all fireworks of all types is a side issue. I feel for those parents and the easily remember being the punk teenager who wanted to see things blow up and burn. It’s just that now with the dogs, and knowing it not only scares them but also hurts their ears, I fall on the side of wishing everyone would just stop doing it. (But again, I’m still torn… ’cause I want to do it, damn it!)
So all the old and regular advice comes out. If your dog is scared of fireworks, do what you can to keep them safe and protected. Our shepherd is a big non-fan so we make sure her kennel is always accessible. It’s her go-to place for safety and comfort. The experts advise putting your dog in an interior room if possible (bathroom or basement, etc), since some dogs go as far as jumping out windows due to the fear and stress of the next-door neighbor detonating explosives. I say only do this if your dog is used to being confined indoors, and is another reason for endorsing regular use of kennels/crates. Also, when your dog is trembling and stressed, trying to console them with petting and soft words of encouragement like “it’s okay, it’s alright” actually backfires. Your dog hears this as proof that there is something indeed to be upset about and it only endorses their stress and anxiety. Instead, try to distract your dog by playing with them, giving them something to chew, etc. Definitely do what you can to muffle the sounds of the explosives like using a fan for white noise, turning on the tv or radio etc. And by all means, make sure your dog is wearing a collar with identification tags so if they do bolt and are found by someone else, they can be quickly returned.
(Creative Commons photo courtesy John Veldboom, Flickr)