Sunday, July 2, 2017

Boom, boom, ain't it great?

We thought we might be lucky twice, but it was not to be.

Tralfaz, three and a half years old, has never been bothered by thunderstorms, carpet cleaners, or fireworks. He gets a little annoyed by one loud floor cleaner, but it hardly rises to the level of fear. The local Fourth of July kabooms are so much ambient noise to Fazzy.

With the second dog? No so easy.

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He turned in around nine, as he usually does, but that's when dusk falls at this time of year. We heard the explosives in the next town over -- pop, pop, popopopopop, POW -- but no sound from the puppy. Then, WOOF!

Every dog has his own way of dealing with being scared. As we saw on Friday, Nipper is scared of garbage cans, and reacts to them on the sidewalk by shying away as hard as he can, even to the point of trying to run into the street. For a frightening sound with no obvious source, his technique is to walk around the house barking at random.

(Fazzy never made a peep through this whole situation. He saves his fear for important things, like the cellar stairs.)

There are a lot of ways you can try to calm your dog during storms or fireworks. Dog-training legend Cesar Millan offers several, like trying to acclimate him to the sound in advance through recordings, giving him a quiet place to retreat to (many go under beds or into closets), and using sedation if necessary. He and many other experts note that you should not be seen making a big deal out of the noise or his reaction to it, as dogs get their cues from their owners, and that was what we did. We just carried on as we normally would at home at that hour, advising him to be quiet when he barked a lot, and by ten the show was over.

It would be worse in an apartment or condo or even a duplex, where your neighbors might get upset about your dog getting upset. But then, ambient fireworks shows are not audible in most city apartments.

The challenge now is that, with Independence Day falling on Tuesday, we essentially have a four-day weekend of black powder fun. Here in the Hudson Valley every town and village seems to have its own fireworks night. Near as I can tell, tonight's will be too far from us for the dogs to hear anything. Our own town will be blowing the joint up on Monday, though, and maybe someplace else close by will do it Tuesday. So we may have freaking dog for a couple more nights yet.

On the other hand, if there's a series of fireworks nights he may get used to the sound and start to think it's no big deal. My wife even suggested taking the boys out to the fireworks show on Monday so they'd be in a fun setting (around people, which they love) and maybe associate the sound with good times. My main concern is that parking is hard down at the town center that night, and if little dog started to go crazy we'd have a hard time getting him out of there.

If you have any thoughts or experience on this, please drop them in the comments or drop me a line at frederick_key AT yahoo dot com. But drop it quietly; we've had enough noise for a while.
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