Still Waters: Don’t take Fido to the fireworks


I love fireworks. There’s something magical about the sparkling colors in the sky at fireworks shows like our local display at the fairgrounds. (Thank you so much, SLV Federal, for sponsoring this show so folks can enjoy it for free.) I can usually see the display pretty well from my house or the office, which are both near the fairgrounds.

I also like to buy some ground fireworks and usually save some for stocking stuffers at Christmas. Even the little “ground blooms” are cool.

I guess most of us grown up kids love fireworks.

One group that does NOT love fireworks is the four-legged category. With their sensitive hearing anyway, fireworks must seem like World War III to them, bless their hearts.

I remember eons ago when I was just out of college and spending some time working in Missouri. I was very lonely so far from home, and on one of my travels out and about, I picked up a brown dog I called “Pumpkin.” He was a sweetie. I didn’t have him long before the people I was staying with said I couldn’t keep him, and I had to give him to another adoptive home.

But during the brief time I had Pumpkin, I naively took him with me to a Fourth of July fireworks show. The poor guy bolted at the first sight and sound of the fireworks, and I spent the rest of the evening and part of the next day looking for him. I think my host family was not too happy I found him, but I felt so responsible for the little guy.

I have had many special pets since that time, including Pupper, whom I also acquired in Missouri but this time was able to convince my host couple to let me keep. Pupper came back with me to Colorado and although he did not have as long a life as I would have liked, he had a good one here.

The biggest scaredy-cat dogs of mine, however, have been my females — Katy, Freckles and now Ebony. A big boom would send them under the bed, if they could fit, or into my lap, where they would try to fit. I tried to find some calming liquid for Katy, and it worked once as I recall. She lay on the bathroom floor in a state of intoxication, oblivious and unafraid of the fireworks shows or anything else.

The bathroom was (and is) one of the safest places because I could flip the vent switch, and it would provide white noise to mask the big booms.

Katy and Freckles are gone now, but their fear of big-boom noises lives on in the “big black dog” Ebony. Her “brother” (definitely from a different mother) Boca is not as bothered, partially because he can’t hear that well anymore.

But there’s nothing wrong with Ebony’s hearing. The first bang sends her into a panic. She can’t fit under the bed but gets as close to it as possible and stays there until well after the last boom has sounded.

It’s the same with thunder and other loud noises.

But the Fourth of July is the worst for Ebony and other fur faces like her for whom fireworks and other big bangs are torture.

Pet owners can be thoughtful during this time to save their furry friends from some of the agony.

• Keep pets indoors if possible. A pet who is outside during the fireworks may bolt, and you may never see him again. Also, the pets will be more comfortable inside where they might feel safer.

• Make sure your pet has identification in case she does bolt and winds up in the next county.

• Provide a safe place for them (like my sound-controlled bathroom, for example.) Some dogs feel safe in crates, for example. For mine, that would be more torture. I remember when I first acquired Boca, he was unsure of everything and would run and hide under the desk in the back room where he had safe “walls” on three sides. I would make sure he had a clear path to his safe spot.

• Stay with them if possible so they don’t feel so afraid, and don’t discipline them for going a little crazy when the fireworks start. They aren’t being naughty. They are just scared. Yelling at them just makes it worse.

• Minimize the sounds and views of fireworks as much as possible, like closing the windows and curtains. Masking the sounds with music on the stereo might also help.

• There are some calming products that can help. I have had minimal success with some of those, but I know some people swear by them. It seems that they are more effective if administered ahead of the actual fireworks. (I wonder if Cosequin Calm Chewable Tablets would work on people too?) I used Bach’s Rescue Remedy, a liquid to be placed on the tongue, for some of my pets, with varying success. (I would have used it on myself, but I think it warns against operating equipment like a car, microwave or dog toy afterwards.) I haven’t tried YoPup Chill Out Biscuits, but they sound good. There again, I know a few people I’d like to slip a few “chill out” biscuits to.

• And by all means, don’t take them to the fireworks show!

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