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.