For the past week or so, you've probably noticed your Facebook newsfeed flooded with Fourth of July pet safety tips. More pets go missing this time of year than any other. July 5th is the busiest day for ACO's and animal shelters. Why? Unlike us hoomans, dogs don't view fireworks as fun and celebratory. To them, it's frightening. They are terrified of the flashes, noises and odor of pyrotechnics. Your pooch will go to great lengths to hide or escape from the ruckus.
Most of the advice, although helpful, is redundant. Leave your pets indoors. Don't take your dog to a firework display (duh). Make sure I.D. tags and chips are up to date (this should be done regardless of the time of year). Take a recent photo of your pet. Keep them confined to a secure room. Play music or have the TV on to drown out the sounds. Etc.
As pet parents, we need to go a step further. I know a lot of hoomans who do and I commend them. They don't allow fireworks to be lit in the yard. They're aware of the festivities that will be going on in the neighborhood. A lot of 'em just stay home. If your fur-kid is terrified and goes into panic stricken mania when the booms start sounding, no music, TV or frozen treat is going to diminish their fears entirely. Trust me on this one.
I'm almost certain "experts" will disagree. Fine. I'm guessing one of those "experts" listed "coddling a frightened dog will reinforce their fear" as one of the Fourth of July safety tips and advice. Whatever.
Our Sophie is T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D of fireworks and thunder...even from a distance. She hears thunder from a distance before we do. The fear shows on her face. Fireworks...it's a nightmare for her. She shakes as if having a minor seizure. We've tried Thundershirts, a low dose of Melatonin, and a homeopathic calming serum. Nothing works. We didn't think it would. For whatever reason, she has a genuine fear.
Our other 2 fur-kids don't seem bothered much by thunder or firework boomers. Coco will pace if thunder or fireworks are extraordinarily loud. Lobo, he chews his NylaBone or Skinneeez and is a happy lil' man.
I can't tell you how many times we laid on the bedroom floor while she was hiding under the bed. She wouldn't come out. We tried to ease her out with treats, roasted chicken and other favorites, but she sat there shaking. We weathered many storms and firework displays on our bellies with one of our arms extended to where she was underneath the bed.
Towards the end of the summer season last year, and the start of this year, things changed. Slowly. Sophie started coming out of her shell. With that, came trust. Instead of running for cover under the bed or behind the sofa, she's run to wherever we were in the house. If I was at my desk, she'd take cover underneath the desk. If I was in the bathroom, she'd hid between the toilet and sink.
When she does this, that's her way of letting us know she hears something. She's afraid. One of us will sit on the sofa or bed, she'll snuggle against us and we ride it out. She still shakes fiercely and it takes her a while to calm down after the storm or the sound of fireworks, firecrackers or whatever else people are lighting off nearby. However, she associates us with comfort and she trusts us with her fears.
We. Love. That.
Needless to say, this will be our second year staying home. We're okay with that. Rumor has it one of our neighbors will be putting on quite the display in his yard. I could stand on our front porch, throw a stone and hit his fence. That's how close he is. There is no 4th of July party, BBQ or fireworks display grand enough to leave her home alone. This year. Next year. Five years from now.
No offence to anyone who was thinking of inviting us.
Behind all of those tips and advice, and the copious amount of hoomans sharing these reminders, are good intentions and genuine concern for the well being of our pets. I encourage hoomans to continue with sharing and spreading the word. This is how we educate the public, nudge our fellow neighbor with a gentle reminder, etc. However, amid all the safety pamphlets and online posters, keep one extremely important, and often overlooked, thing in mind. Every fur-kid is different. What works for one may not work for the other.
Keeping your fur-kid indoors is definitely something you should do, however, it may not be enough. What else can you do as their pet parent to keep them safe and sound? Or, to comfort them? Is the TV enough to drown out the noises?
When ya think about it, is there really anything capable of drowning out the noise of an M-80 your neighbor just lit and threw? No.
Truthfully, nothing can replace the comfort of you simply just being there. And no, that doesn't mean you have to miss out on the fun. Plan cookouts for earlier in the day. Bring the celebration inside when the neighbors start shooting off
It's that simple.