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Belle's Very Bad, Really Rotten, 48-hour Independence Day

I'll start by saying that Belle, who turned 3 in June, has never had a problem with the booming noises (thunder, fireworks, even guns) that periodically plague our neighborhood.  She first came home in August, so by her first 4th of July here, she was already a year old.  I had been reading Doggy Dan's training advice, and convinced a number of (somewhat dubious) dog-owning friends to gather with us and their puppies in a large living room supplied with lots of antlers, Himalayan chews, bully sticks, raw veggies and some treats. We kept the dogs busy, and whenever the noise of fireworks sounded, we reacted with quiet enjoyment: "That was a good one;" "Oh I really loved that one;" "What fun;" smile, smile, smile, soft ha, ha, has .... We sounded like idiots, but the dogs remained relaxed and happy.  Ever since then, Belle has ignored most booming noises, although if one is really close and loud, she looks at me and I give her a big smile and announce how much I enjoyed the noise.  

Until yesterday.  We had suffered through several days of unrelenting heat, so we weren't in a good mood to start with. Belle was calm despite the incessant fireworks all morning, which stopped only when the storm started.  Then violent thunder and lightening went on for hours and despite the soothing dog music from You Tube, Belle huddled under our favorite arm chair.  She must have been bursting, but absolutely refused to go outside to potty during the short breaks in the tumult. It was still thundering and lightening in the distance when the evening fireworks began. WHO sets off or watches fireworks when lightening can be seen in the area??? It wasn't even the Fourth yet.  The fireworks seemed to stop around 10:00 pm so I convinced Belle to accompany me outside to her potty spot. Of course, just when she squatted, pop, pop, POP ..... She ran dripping pee up the steps, across the brick patio to the door, then straight to her crate in the bedroom and shoved her head under her doodle snuggle puppy.  I turned on the white noise machine and sat next to the crate, and Belle eventually fell asleep.  July 3rd was finally over.

Enter July 4th:  In an effort to avoid the heat and more fireworks, I took Belle for a walk at 6::50 am on the path between the Canal and the Delaware River.  Belle peed 5 times.  We were ambling toward home at 7:38 am when the first fireworks sounded. Belle towed me up the hill toward home.  I haven't run that fast since Junior High.  Belle ignored all the toys and treats I tried to distract her with, and inserted her little self under the arm chair again. Every time I thought the fireworks had stopped until the evening's scheduled shows, booms renewed from another direction (actually, I think some of the booms were backfires from the pickup trucks racing for some unfathomable reason up and down the hills near our house).  Rather than leave Belle home alone all afternoon, I decided to forego the barbecue with the "no-dogs-allowed" part of the family. 

I pulled the arm chair next to the computer and Belle climbed into my lap.  I was really bored with the You Tube doggy music, so I tried to interest Belle in some funny dog videos.  I thought the one of the golden retriever on her back bicycling with her rear legs in time with the exercise class on the beach was pretty funny, but Belle wasn't amused. I tried singing to her, but after I finished my repertoire of uplifting union songs (go ILGWU) and was on the 3rd go round of "How Much Is that Doggy in the Window," Roxie the Cat appeared for the first time since breakfast on the 3rd and scratched my arm.  So, enough singing.

By mid-afternoon, the booms had slowed to about 3 or 4 an hour and Belle consented to eat a few ice cubes with kibble and carrots frozen inside. She adamantly refused to go outside, but made herself comfortable on the arm chair with her backside on my lap and her head on my shoulder.  I wish I had told the groomer to cut her hair even shorter, as it was very hot.  Belle snuggled and I read my book about the marathoner who rescued a dog in the Gobi Dessert. Then, at around 4:00 pm, the fireworks gradually increased until, about 8:00, the main events began. I tried using the Doggy Dan "Oh what terrific fireworks, ha, ha" gambit, but after the past 20 hours of never-ending fireworks and really imposing thunder and lightening, Belle was clearly beyond that.  When I refused to let her crawl beneath my shirt, she returned to her refuge under the skirts of the arm chair.  When things seemed to have calmed down at about 11:00, I carried Belle to her potty spot then back in the house and directly into her crate and the embrace of her snuggle puppy.  Belle fell asleep to more white noise while I sat on the floor next to the crate, and finally, July 4th was over til next year.  I, however, can't sleep, worrying about how Belle will react the next time we have a spate of booming noises.  

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Comment by Linda, Charlie Brown and Beau on July 9, 2018 at 9:07am

Neither of my doodles have ever had a reaction to loud noises or fireworks - UNTIL THIS YEAR.  Beau will be 6 years old in August and this is the first time he reacted.  We went out early evening for a quick barbecue with friends about 5:30 and we were home by 9.  I think we made a big mistake leaving them alone even though it was not for long.  Beau was like a lunatic trying to hide (even in our closet) and it seemed no matter what place he hid in it was not working for him.  He finally settled down about 1 AM!   It has been almost 5 days, and he is still not himself.  However, he is much better.  I wish I had a video of what exactly set this off.  The sounds may have been way to close to home!  Going to listen to the podcase right now that Stella posted. 

Comment by Laurie, Fudge, and Vern on July 8, 2018 at 9:13am

I have so had it with fireworks and loud booms, I could scream. They have been going on around here since 6/28 and poor Fudge is so terrified. I ordered a thunder shirt and we are working with our vet to find a solution using drugs. I hope you can figure out what will help Belle.

Comment by Amy and Annabelle on July 8, 2018 at 5:01am

Anne & Mr. Haley, maybe I will ask the vet about Trazodone for next year ,as I take that myself as a sleep aid. 

Comment by Stella on July 7, 2018 at 7:42pm

This format of the podcast might be easier to listen to if you don't have an apple device:

https://soundcloud.com/sarah-stremming/surviving-the-fourth-of-july

Comment by Andrea, Belle and Honey on July 7, 2018 at 6:27pm

Belle and I thank everyone for the sympathy and suggestions. Belle’s small size is definitely an advantage when she is climbing on me (15 lbs vs 70 lbs, OMD!), but it also requires extreme caution when giving her medicinals, so I made an appointment with the vet to discuss calming agents to avert future trauma. I’m going to listen to the podcast as soon as I google instructions for how to do that. By the way, I apologize for the delay in approving comments - I didn’t receive emails notifying me that they were pending. Here’s hoping for a boom-free summer for us all.

Comment by Stella on July 7, 2018 at 3:45pm

This is a great podcast by a behaviourist about fireworks:

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/cog-dog-radio/id1128562867?mt=2...

Comment by Bonnie and Kona on July 7, 2018 at 2:27pm

This whole things sounds like a dreadful nightmare! I am so sorry you and Belle went through two days of this. Our Fourth wasn't as bad as some, but last year's New Year's Eve was as you described: days of nearly constant fireworks. I have been giving Owen (the white one) benadryl to try to help him through these trying times. We put him in our daughter's room that has air conditioning so "white noise". I have read of other medical intervention from Prozac to CBD oil. I hope you get some good advice. Good luck with the next storm and fireworks whenever they will hit again. 

Comment by Becka on July 7, 2018 at 11:04am

Oh Belle, I am so sorry to hear you had a hard time. At least you are small enough to be carried (and to hide under a chair)! My favorite part of this blog, though, was the "repertoire of uplifting union songs." And the anti-musical cat!

Maybe a thunder shirt would help? 

Comment by Amy and Annabelle on July 7, 2018 at 8:50am

Sounds similar to Annabelle's. I was afraid  she would never want to be in the backyard again. Long after I went to bed on the 4th the fireworks from all surrounding cities and neighbors were still going strong. Hubs told me Annabelle spent an hour in his lap at the computer just shaking. This year was by far the worst. I need to find something to cam her for next year. Thunder shirt does nothing.

Comment by Anne & Mr. Haley on July 7, 2018 at 5:33am

I feel your pain and Haley feels Belle's.  Haley is to big to hide under the furniture.  He is absolutely unconsolable during T.S.  Imagine a 70 pound doodle climbing on you and won't settle.  One night he actually got on my head when I was lying down and I couldn't get him off.  I thought he was going to kill me.  I now give him Trazodone at least 1-2 hours before an expected storm.  It helps alot.

 

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