Our national pride for surviving that onslaught has been traditionally and symbolically relived with Independence Day fireworks. Even though I prefer the quiet, once a year, on or about the Fourth of July, I have a great appreciation for the safe, carefully orchestrated and professionally prepared fireworks shows. My problem is the illegal fireworks that are smuggled into New Jersey, (detonated mostly on the 4th of July and New Years Eve…as well as sporadically the rest of the year).
I’m certain every neighborhood has amateurs (of all ages) who, in the name of patriotism, risk injury and getting fined by the police, solely to come-off as a big-shot. While I don’t see the thrill of firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles, M-80’s, cherry bombs or blockbusters, I was always grudgingly accepting of it…until I got a dog.
My Roxy is a mutt. She is scared to death by loud noises, (primarily thunder and fireworks).
|ROXY STRONGLY DESIRES QUIET SO MUCH THAT AT HER BIRTHDAY PARTY, SHE SPECIAL REQUESTED NO NOISE MAKERS DURING THE CELEBRATION...AND THAT HER YAPPY BFF MADDIE, WEAR A MUZZLE.|
It is unknown why some dogs are so acutely affected. But her case is so severe that the noise triggers persistent, excessive and irrational behavior. Those sounds mess with her so badly that she wants to escape. Nothing can stop her from trying to tunnel out of the house, (she digs like a machine on the material of our sofa, expensive comforters and computer wires). If Roxy was in a speeding car, I’m certain she’d be so desperate that she’s jump out the window.
Studies have shown that working and sporting dogs are more susceptible to a loud noise phobia. Experts aren’t certain why this is true but my Roxy, despite her lack of pedigree falls into that category, (she has beagle and Jack Russell blood coursing through her veins with a dab of Dalmatian and a jumbled Heinz-57 mixture to complete her lineage).
Noise phobia in dogs is linked to bad experiences as a puppy. However, it’s impossible to guess the specific problem. A good way for owners to address the situation is with Benadryl or some other mild, calming agent.
|DOGGIE DOWNERS LIKE BENADRYL REALLY HELP. CHECK WITH YOUR VET TO SEE IF SUCH A PRODUCT (AND PROPER DOSAGE), IS RIGHT FOR YOUR POOCH.|
There also is sweater-like item called a Thunder Shirt which secures the dog with a soothing, swaddling caress. I’ve heard mixed reviews that favor that they don’t work.
Unfortunately, dogs don’t outgrow this fear. You’d think that they’d realize that nothing terrible really happens…but I guess because it’s an emotional response, they don’t. The studies I read conclude that the problem gets more severe with each experience…and in Roxy’s case, I’d say that’s true.
Even the experts can’t agree on whether excessive petting and coddling is a good idea. While some say it helps, others claim that you are negatively reinforcing that there is indeed something for them to worry about.
What seems crazy is that Roxy can hear a distant, single firecracker pop and freak out. It might take an hour before she calms down. Then another gets exploded. Many times, my wife Sue and I can’t even hear it. So we are puzzled by doggie’s inconsolable panting, shivering and drooling, (in the case of storms, Roxy can perceive changes in barometric pressure, electrostatic disturbances and even smells).
Speaking of barometric pressure going haywire, three days ago, the professional Fourth of July firework shows sponsored by nearby casinos was postponed due to the threat of Hurricane Arthur, (I called it Hurricane Chip). The big event was rescheduled for last night. Sue’s friends Rose and Tom invited us to their house to watch the show from across the bay. Even though the explosions were barely discernable pops, the musical simulcast on the radio made the experience far better.
We had a great time and the company was terrific too. Until afterwards, Tom started blasting his own bottle rockets. I imagined some poor dog on their street ready to slash his wrists because of OUR noise. I felt like such a hypocrite but as a first time guest, I didn’t get on my soapbox and complain. Luckily, the stiff breeze was blowing inland, so rather than risk setting a neighbor’s house on fire, Tom stopped immediately on his own.
So please bear in mind when you shoot-off illegal fireworks, it’s likely that you are freaking out a dog. And the collateral damage is, nice people like my wife and I who work odd hours, lose sleep trying to calm our panic-stricken pups while protecting our furniture and other possessions.
This morning to prove how pissed-off Roxy still was, she refused to pose with the wooden pole of an American flag in her mouth or with a bigger flag draped over her back.
|ROXY LOVES PLAYING DRESS-UP AND POSING FOR THE PAPARAZZI. SO PLEASE UNDERSTAND HOW ACUTELY ANXIOUS SHE HAD TO BE, TO MISS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW HER LOVE FOR OUR COUNTRY.|
So don’t label her unpatriotic...what she is, is scared. If we dope her up a little more next year, maybe she won't be so terrified and she'll dress up as Dolly Mutt-ison.