After the Fourth, pup has a fireworks ‘hangover’

Rusty hides from fireworks sounds on July 4
Bear on July 5
The day after the Fourth, when Bear heard thunder, he appeared to think it was more fireworks. (Photo: Indie Art South)

This Fourth of July, for unknown reasons, the fireworks in our area were louder, went longer, and flashed brighter than usual. Our Yorkie mix normally isn’t bothered by loud sounds unless they are unusually loud. So when Bear started pacing around last night, I didn’t think too much of it. By bedtime, though, I’d changed my mind. By the next day, because of Mother Nature, I realized Bear had what might be called a fireworks hangover. 

The fireworks enthusiasts worked overtime last night, despite the fact the holiday came in the middle of the week  and we’d had a mid-evening storm we thought would put an end to the booms. Soon as the storm ended, though, the pyro-fans resumed their celebrations. It didn’t bother my husband or me. We both grew up in the South, so we’re used to the celebratory customs. By then, Bear had had enough. He glued himself to my husband for awhile, then paced around some more, and then headed to my husband’s home office to curl up in the one interior room in our house that doesn’t have an exterior wall. This is Florida. We love windows.

I ended up putting Bear in bed with us. I just plain felt sorry for him. Normally I don’t like to do that because at 8 ½ pounds, he is a super bed hog. He stretches out between us, back paws on my husband and front paws on me. And he likes his bubble. He’s used to crate-sleeping, so I guess since nothing touches him in the crate he expects the same in our bed.

This morning, I figured he’d put all his fears behind him. But he was acting sort of strange. He stayed right by me all morning. When I was about to fold laundry, he put on a show in order to get me to let him nap on our bed while I did my chores. He said hello without being prompted. He gave me high fives even when I didn’t initiate it. And he had a low little growl that is his equivalent of “Speak.” He knows he’s cute.

So he was reclining there, enjoying the nice fluffy towels I needed to fold, and next thing you know, he’s standing up at attention as though he hears an intruder. It was thunder, big thunder, and very loud rain. I realized he thought the fireworks were back—whatever he perceives them as, I don’t know. It took a couple treats and some tender pats on the head to get him to relax again. At least he’s not pacing. I guess he has the equivalent of post-fireworks stress syndrome.

I admit even I got startled a couple times last night, the booms were so loud. There must be a new firework of sorts that mimics lightning bolts. I’d see a big flash and then hear the boom. I stood out back for awhile, and realized we were entirely encircled by celebrations. I tuned up a few patriotic songs on my phone and took it all in. I love this. I love watching the displays, especially those the folks at the lake two streets down set off, and I even like the crackles, whistles, and booms. But I know what they’re coming from. Bear doesn’t.

My daughter Rebecca ended up taking the Schnauzer she rescued into her bathroom and turning on the exhaust fan in there. She texted me a photo of her sitting on the rug with the pup reclining by her. She was trying to read a book. And the Schnauzer, who’s always been fearful of any noise including the backup beep on garbage trucks and other vehicles, was genuinely terrified.

Last night, I noticed two very large owls, one right behind the other, zooming low and heading to a thicket of trees in our neighbor’s yard. There weren’t any fireworks in his yard or ours, so maybe the owls saw our properties as a refuge.

Thing is, what do you do when your dog is terrified? Other than offer comfort?

Purina has some tips, including one of those comfort-wrap jackets you can buy. Rebecca bought one. It didn’t help her Schnauzer. The tip on staying close and calm does help him, though.

A local ABC affiliate in California did a short on how a compound that includes cannabis might help. This compound does not include THC—the article says that’s “toxic” to pups (and cats).

Rebecca’s vet tried giving the Schnauzer medication for his noise anxiety. It didn’t help and the side effects turned him temporarily into a 24/7 star gazer. He spent large parts of the day glued to the pool deck, watching the Polaris do its thing. She discontinued the meds.

Today Bear is still walking around like something is about to get him. He’s never done this before.

I think it’s because last night’s displays exceeded any displays I’d heard or seen in our area before. I don’t know why, but there seemed to be a great amount of enthusiasm for our country’s annual birthday celebration. I guess I feel a little guilty still—I didn’t spend a dime on fireworks, but I got to take in a big ticket show and I didn’t have to go anywhere to do it. As for Bear, if he could interpret a calendar, he’d be happy to know there probably won’t be anymore fireworks for awhile—in Florida, that’d be Labor Day in September. We like our fireworks any time there’s any kind of holiday.

(Kay B. Day/July 5, 2018)

Something to say? Do it here.