While I wait in earnest anticipation for grilled goods and cold beverages each Fourth of July, I dread the fireworks. Don’t get me wrong, they’re gorgeous and all, they are known for being symbolic of the “guns” and “bonfires” of the American Revolutionary War, and, when Independence Day does roll around, I am able to pause for a moment to watch those glowing plumes. When staring at the colorful sky each Fourth, I am reminded, sincerely, of how privileged I am to be able to live here in the United States.
To quote Spiderman’s Uncle Ben (and other historical and nationalistic discourse): “With great power comes great responsibility.” Well, with great privilege comes great responsibility. One of the most obvious privileges I’ve experienced is my ability to own and care for a dog. Now, my dog is no ordinary pup, mind you, she is the greatest K9 that ever lived, in my humble opinion. She is a 14 year old Belgian Malinois and a retired police dog.
You might be thinking: “retired police dog, wow! She must be super smart and maybe a little scary.” Well, you’re right about the smart part. And…yes, she can be scary at times but, really, she is just extremely judgmental and mildly neurotic. What I mean by that is that she is intuitive; she senses and remarks (by barking) on others’ intentions and, honestly, this is a tremendously helpful quality. I support owning a critical animal. Cats are great.
While my dog’s Type A personality is useful in the realm of discernment, it is not fantastic on holidays such as the Fourth of July. Basically, my dog, like most pets, hates fireworks and other loud noises. From the first screeching launch to the finale, every Fourth, my dog and I tend huddle on the couch together, shaking. If she can’t find me, she finds the quietest, darkest area in the house. Sometimes this is the bathtub. It’s not pretty. She is not alone. This is why we both dread fireworks.
Luckily, my dog is able to come inside where I can attempt to distract her with fans, air conditioners, wet food, and quiet spaces. Many dogs do not have that luxury. According to The Humane Society of the United States: “On the Fourth of July, so many pets are frightened and try to escape the sights and sounds that animal shelters around the nation report a dramatic increase in lost pets during the holiday.” If this were to happen to my super K9, we’d both be devastated.
There’s lots of advice available online for dealing with animals and anxiety. It’s only natural that most nearly any animal would run away and hide from loud noises. Most scholarly articles available through NC LIVE (Fontana Regional Library System’s Online Database repository) recommend a specific anti-anxiety medication regiment or compile a list of anti-noise suggestions. Free, reliable articles on the possible symptom controls are countless, however, some people may be interested in starting from the beginning with their own pets. The Fontana Regional Library System has many books available on dogs, dog breeds, dog training, and, of course, other pet guides. Some of our resources include: Dogs Behaving Badly: An A to Z Guide to Understanding and Curing Behavioral Problems in Dogs by Nicolas H. Dodman, Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones provided by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, and Caring for Dogs by Andrew Morris.
I know I cannot train my dog to enjoy fireworks but I will always help her get through the Fourth with as little anxiety as possible. So, we will stay inside and enjoy the couch and air conditioner. On this Independence Day, appreciate those fireworks and grilled goods but take care of your pets and be careful that they also do not enjoy too much human food!
- Picture Sources:
- Top: Malinois Puppy – https://www.pexels.com/photo/fawn-and-black-belgian-malinois-puppy-on-green-grass-209115/
- Middle: Judgmental Cat – https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1209138
- Bottom: Fireworks – https://pixabay.com/en/fireworks-color-night-explosions-3598/