Friday, July 04, 2008

Most Dogs Fear Fireworks

I've only had a few dogs who weren't afraid of fireworks on the Fourth of July.

My dog Toby, who passed away last June, was afraid of fireworks. He would stick close to me. When the real loud ones came, he would hide in the bedroom in the corner of the room. And I found out a few weeks ago that my little dog Desi is also afraid of them. I thought, "Oh no! Here we go again."

I live around several schools, and after a high school graduation ceremony, the fireworks displays were set off. They were not only beautiful but they were also very loud. They sounded like explosions. Desi was outside at the time and I was watching TV. He walked in fast. I spoke to him calmly, but he ignored me and walked straight to the bedroom and went underneath the bed! He's small--only about 10 pounds. I tried to coax him out, but he stayed there for almost an hour. When he came out, he jumped on my lap and cuddled. After a few minutes, he walked to the door and looked out, but he was afraid to go outside. I went outside and he eagerly followed me, staying real close. He was finally satisfied everything was ok.

Then yesterday, someone set off fireworks around 9:30 p.m. Desi was asleep on the bed. I talked to him soothingly and petted him. When I walked out of the room, he jumped down and went under the bed. Even after I went to bed, he waited another half hour more before he jumped on the bed to cuddle and sleep.

The animal shelters are always full this time of year because of dogs who bolt and keep running. My neighbor's dog Sasha is terrified of fireworks too. She's a rottweiler, but she'll jump in the tub. When she comes out, she's trembling.

I remember when my dad was in the hospital and I was taking care of his dog Princess. She was terrified of fireworks and he always had to bring her in before the fireworks started because she would jump at the windows and tear the screens. In my dad's neighborhood, the kids start setting fireworks during the day. I went over and brought her in the house. Once she was inside, she was fine. I stayed with her most of the day, but I had to return home in the evening to be with my dog Toby. I left her in the house. I came again early the next morning (the 5th) and she was happy to see me. I let her out and checked the house thoroughly, but there was no sign of mess or damage. Whew! I stayed with her a few hours, then went to see my dad in the hospital.

I had made arrangements to have my dad's step-daughter Isabel check on Princess and to feed her dinner. Around 5 I got a call that the gate was found wide open and Princess was gone! We searched everywhere to no avail. We put up signs and kept driving up and down the blocks for days. We even searched the local pound. We were beginning to think the worst. We wondered what to tell my dad. When my dad would ask how Princess was or how she did on the 4th, we lied and said she did fine. I felt terrible. Finally, after a week, someone called. The man said he had a female dog that matched Princess' description!

Isabel picked her up and brought her home. She was in good condition. It turns out she went for miles down a main street and hid in the back of a business (so they would lock her up at night and fed and cared for her during the day). Princess was extremely lucky. I was so grateful. I gave the guy a gift card to a restaurant in appreciation.

I worry how Desi will be tonight. People told me to tranquilize him, but I don't like the idea of drugging him. I'll see how he does this year. If need be, I'll tranquilize him next year.

Some surrounding cities ban fireworks. I wish mine would. I'll stay home the entire weekend to be with Desi and my cat Kelley (who doesn't appreciate fireworks either, but she stays put). How do you keep your dog calm?

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