Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Dependence Day

As I write this, Butch has wedged himself between my left leg and my wastebasket, and Kadi has squirreled herself under my computer desk. She's presently lying on top of a bunch of cables, including my mouse cord. Whether this thunderstorm continues or the weather clears up in time for fireworks celebrations, there'll be no independence at my house today. I'm trapped by fearful canines.

I wrote in February about my dogs’ thunderstorm phobias. The bad news is that fireworks, to them, are even worse.

Butch doesn’t exhibit the panic symptoms Kadi does–-quivering, panting, pacing, trying to climb onto my shoulders–-but he burrows into a hiding spot and steadfastly refuses to step one paw outside until at least an hour after the last popping noise. Kadi will go outside if I go first, but there’s no way she’s going to stand still long enough to pee. Instead, her focus is on trying to get me back in the house before I get us both killed. She circles me and barks frantically. She stands on her hind legs and hurls her 65-pound body at me, trying to push me toward the door. It’s painful to see how frightened she gets.

The fact that my dogs are too afraid even to relieve themselves on the 4th of July means we usually don’t get to bed until two or three in the morning, well after the fireworks have stopped. And that means that the more fun my neighbors have, the more miserable our night will be.

It’s been eight years since I’ve looked forward to the 4th of July. Celebrations are out of the question as long as fireworks are popping, and all my energy goes toward keeping things as normal as possible and staying as calm and reassuring as I can. Up to now, though, my pooches haven’t bought it for a minute. They seem to think I'm too lame to comprehend the danger we’re in.

Today I’m allowing myself to feel a little bit hopeful. Right now, although Butch and Kadi are hiding from the thunder and lightning, they haven't hit full panic mode. Today I'm prepared to keep things from getting that far.

Last month when I took Kadi to the vet, I described her response to fearful situations and asked the vet how he felt about tranquilizers. I told him I’ve never wanted to take that step, but I’m worried that the dogs are getting too old to handle so much stress. (I know I am.) He reassured me that Butch and Kadi should have no problems with the type of medication he prescribes, and he recommended that we give it a try.

So here I sit, armed with sedatives and hoping I'll know when it’s time to use them, and I do have some barbecued sausage, baked beans and potato salad for my own private celebration. The truth is, my dogs give so much to me all year long that I don't mind one bit devoting this day to their sense of security.

Happy anniversary, America. You all have a wonderful 4th, and I’ll let you know tomorrow how ours turns out.


  1. Your poor dogs. I've known dogs to be traumatised by loud sounds...fire crackers, thunder.

    Happy Independence Day.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  2. Spot used to be completely unfazed by thunder, lightning, firecrackers, and fire trucks or police cars with their sirens on. As he's gotten older, he seems to have realized the "dangers" of thunderstorms and firecrackers, although he still ignores sirens. (he still lets me sleep if a storm happens at night, thankfully.) I've considered asking the vet for a mild tranquilizer if he keeps on getting upset at storms, and for Labor Day if he's upset by the firecrackers tonight. What's the name of the trank you got?

  3. Bella is the only brave one in the house. She is also the youngest at 9 weeks old. She isn't afraid of anything. She'll walk right up to the dogs bowl and eat out of it while he's eating then have the nerve to hiss at him if he gets sloppy and splashes a tid bit on something on her. Captain, oh well, big ol 125 lb service animal extraordinaire becomes a whimpering sissy when it storms. he tries to fit his big body under the bed but it doesn't work. he doesn't understand why. and if it's raining he'd rather hold it then go out there and get his paws all muddied up. The boy is a priss. I might have something to do with that since I let him get in the hot tub and everything. But like you, I'm there to reassure because he gives so much more to me than I can ever repay. It kills me that they don't even know we owe them anything...the humility and gratefulness in animals is certainly an example for us humans.

  4. i don't like fire works EITHER smart dogs, yes i was talking about oprah, ever time i have tried to watch her it has been some tv person or other and i cAN'T SEE THE USE OF IT , BUT I AM SORT OF A ODD BIRD ANY WAY.

  5. I forgot to add, I give them all fresh Camamille (not spelled right) when they're freaking out like that. I put it in their food. And when it's time to give poor Gracie a bath I spike some canned food with it. That way, she's kinda calm during and after.


  6. In our newspaper a local woman purchased a "phermone collar" for her lab, I guess the scent is simular to a lactating female, and it is soothing for the dog. It worked for her dog anyway, just something you might want to look into...so how did it go last night?

  7. I say drug the dogs. Let them enjoy the 4th.

  8. Guyana-gyal, I ADORE your blog. Thanks for stopping by.

    Janet, the vet prescribed Acepromazine. Good luck with Spot.

    Austin, you have the coolest pets! Thanks for the chamomile tip; I'd never have thought of that.

    Patsy, at least you don't try to climb on people's heads when you hear fireworks.

    Schremgems, that's an interesting approach. It's been a long time since my dogs have been exposed to the scent of a lactating female, so it would be fun to see how they'd respond to that.

    Mike, the drug-laced ice cream was the end of their party. Although they did seem to have the munchies when they finally woke up.


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