There are many things that frighten our pets but none so deliberate as Fireworks.
Bonfire / Guy Fawkes night, birthdays, Chinese New Year, Diwali, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve and more… Yet whilst many of us are ooo-ing and aaah-ing at the pretty spectacular our poor pets are often beside themselves with utter panic.
You see, it’s not just the flashes. It’s not just the bangs. One thing I never realised – and I bet you didn’t – it’s the vibration!
Animals are tuned into nature.
Flashes = lightening = storms = look for safety. Bangs are the same = thunder. The vibration through the air all but sends them insane as their sensitive ears AND bodies pick up this unknown phenomenon.
Just imagine (or remember) something you have never done before – going on a plane for the first time, going in a glass lift when you’re nervous of heights, your first driving lesson, even perhaps a roller coaster ride. The first time you do something like that your heart races, your pulse pounds in your ear, you feel slightly nauseous, yet you know that at any point you can stop what you’re doing.
Well for our dogs they have all of those feelings of fight or flight but no real comprehension – they DON’T KNOW it won’t hurt them, or that it isn’t a massive storm rolling in… they can’t understand and they can’t stop it happening.
I have learned that we have to understand them and work with them to a more comfortable situation.
There are many dogs who never fret and that’s usually because their experience of such ‘danger’ was dealt with matter of fact and calmly. Most though have some degree of discomfort with the whole fireworks idea.
Having adopted 2 Romanian rescued dogs I see both sides. Tess, the newbie at 6 month before her first exposure simply chewed her chew or slept through each night – only a little anxious when she desperately needed to go out to pee and someone set offf a loud banging firework. To counteract this, AS SOON AS SHE’D DONE HER BUSINESS we got her in and instructed her to sit on her mat. No treat, no fuss, just back to the mat with her chew toy. If we’re not bothered she isn’t. We did not leave her out any length of time to become agitated.
Now for the big baby Annie, coming up to three years of age. She was 9 months before she was rescued and had lived out on the cold streets, in fields in storms, no pack, no protection, then months in a public shelter and UK kennels. She came to us terrified of everything. Rustling leaves sent her into a panic, cars going by freaked her out… even the TV caused a panting and hiding effect the first week we had her. So no surprise Fireworks send her panic rating off the scale.
I didn’t want to have a constantly drugged up dog every time celebrations were afoot so I investigated, google, read books, took advice from vets and friends with experience and now I share to you to see if you and you dog can benefit.
1) DON’T tell you dog he/she is a good dog when they come to you for reassurance. This, I have learned does not as we think reassure. It reinforces that fear is good. The exact opposite to what we want to achieve.
2) DON’T try treats and food to calm your dog down unless they would normally be having food at the time. Again, treats for nerves say it’s ok to be nervous. Plus, if you dog is very upset it’s likely to give them stomach pains too.
3) DON’T EVER shout at your dog even if they go toilet inside or go into a room that is “out of bounds” … They are not using their knowledge they are using their instinct and fight or flight = release bladder/bowels and hide if you can’t run. We’ve all heard the saying “so scared he pooed himself (or variants of)”. Well that’s EXACTLY what happens to your dog.
4) DO act as normally as possible, no extra fuss, no treats etc UNLESS your dog is comfortable with that. What you do want to do is say “hey I’m here, you’re safe” but without the “it’s ok to panic” message.
5) DO try and walk your dog, a long walk or good runaround before dusk when you are expecting fireworks to happen. Exercise not only settles them, but sends a calming hormone round the body and so stress levels are zero to start with. A stressed dog to start with will be hyper-stressed later.
6) DO try and invest in a Thundershirt if you can. It will not work for all dogs but I went through literally hundreds of reviews before I paid a hefty £40 out and the majority (I’d say 98%) said it worked for their pet. It works for Annie. Basically it wraps around them like swaddling a baby and they have a sense of security from it. I would recommend it.
7) DO look at using technology such as DVD’s and CD’s that are available playing sounds to desensitise your dog. You play a few minutes every day and your dog gets used to the noise. They work for many and come highly recommended but I had no success with Annie.
8) DO research and use herbal remedies. There are doggy versions of Kalms, diffusers to plug in, sachets of mixtures to put with food. They on their own will not probably solve the issue but combined with a steady routine, a Thundershirt, exercise and a place to hide, your dog should be a lot happier when coping with the fact that we think loud bangs and flashes are fun.
Last year Annie spent 3 weeks freaking out at everything that wasn’t quiet and ordinary each time fireworks were going off around us. This year we have had one night of panic (because I forgot the Thundershirt until fireworks had started). Last night – 2 weeks into the flashing and banging, Annie, no shirt, no herbs, just a long walk and a steady routine, just lay on her mat and dozed.!! SUCCESS with my baby girl does make me smile.
I hope you have some success with your furry friend without resorting to a trip to the vet, but if the vets it is, at least you tried.
for plug in diffusers
for herbal tablets to calm.
Love your dog, keep your dog safe and you have a friend forever.
As the title suggests – apparently October is Adopt a shelter dog month.
Now I’m all for these monthly drives to get people’s interest perked up once in a while but does it not suggest that October you should adopt but the rest of the year pass it all by?
EVERY month, EVERY week, EVERY day should be adopt an animal day – whether you’re into cats, dogs, pigs – if you want a pet and you don’t intend to show it or have a licence to breed THEN ADOPT. Simple as that.
I’m not getting on my soap box a preaching the rights and wrongs of breeding – each one of us has an opinion and are entitle to that opinion. My only comment to this is “responsible” breeding NOT puppy farm, or “oops my dog got out” kind of breeding. They are both hateful, irresponsible acts that have no part in today’s world.
As I said, I’m not going to soap box the subject. I’m simply going to say today that there are hundreds of thousands of dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs … the whole noah’s ark of animals that someone somewhere keeps as pets, someone somewhere lost or disowned said ‘pet’ and so there are enough to go around for people to adopt.
And if you’re one of those who is nervous – will the dog be trainable or insurable or bite or diabetic or worse? – Will the cat run off, fit in here, have cat flu, be full of fleas? Will the rabbit be unmanageable or ill or not tame? I can’t blame you for asking and holding back. There are many many reasonable questions to be asked. How though can you justify paying £400 for a cross breed puppy or even a so called ‘pedigree without papers’ from a stranger you may never see again when you can buy/adopt for under £300 and have back-up from the shelter if here’s a problem for the rest of the animal’s life…. Try justifying £30 for a petshop guinea pig with no history or drop a £20 to a neighbour for a kitten that “was got at” one night?
So as October is Adopt a Shelter Dog month, I urge you , ADOPT – but not just in October – whenever you intend to get a new pet………
Once again I’m sort of a bearer of sad news… not the worst, but sad. A friend shared a post on Joe’s Facebook page .. STICK INJURY . The guy’s story follows at the end of this. I will not add to it other than say that PEOPLE WITH DOGS, NEAR DOGS, LOOKING AFTER A FRIENDS’ DOG, please do not use a piece of tree in any form as a toy for a dog. Throw a frisby, and old tied and knotted rope, a large-ish ball, a dog toy …ANYTHING but sticks and wood.
After over 140000 views on Joe’s story, https://mrsskeats.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/dont-let-another-good-dog-die-needlessly/, numerous views on his facebook page, views tweets and retweets on twitter and word of mouth via other circles I believed naively that people were getting the message. To read those words “ ‘it’ll never happen to me’.“ made me shiver.
Martyn and Jet’s story
Like most dog owners, I’ve been warned countless times that sticks and dogs are a bad combination and thought ‘it’ll never happen to me’. Well last night it did.
Jet brought a stick back and her mouth was covered in blood. I wiped it away and it came back instantly. Managed to prise her mouth open and blood poured out and onto the grass, and I do mean poured. I ran her to a water bucket nearby and washed some of it away but more and more kept coming – easily a pint in the space of a minute. Finally it slowed and stopped and I got her inside for a look. I couldn’t see much but all that blood had come from somewhere and I’ve never seen an animal look so wretched and in pain in all my life, so to the vet it was.
The vet couldn’t see exactly what she had done, but knew it was bad so took her straight in for a look. One operation later and it turns out that the stick had tore through her tonsil and soft palate, nicking an artery on the way and ploughed over an inch into the soft tissue above her palate. I was told in no uncertain terms that it was a miracle she didn’t bleed out in the field there and then, and had the stick went in even a millimetre to the side she would have been dead, no question.
Once I had her home i went and found where it happened and got a few pictures. Hopefully they will make you all think twice before throwing a stick. I’ve definitely learned the hard way.
Jet has been for her 3-day check-up at the vet and it all seems to be healing okay, but she still has a hole in her palate and is still on plenty of painkillers and antibiotics. Back on Monday for a check-up again but we seem to have got off lucky, although the hole might not heal properly and it will take her a few weeks to fully replace all the blood she lost. Glad my girl is tough as old boots!
I came across this wall poster on yet another Rescue site on Facebook yesterday and there’s a lot of truth in it. Since looking for another dog to go with Annie (a Romanian Rescue) after Joe’s death I have spent weeks spiraling around a head-spinning array of sites for fosters required, adoption required, rescue this, rescue that… It’s mind-blowing to say the least.
Now, I had to make a decision. As someone said recently “Taking in one dog won’t change the world, but it will change THE DOG’S world”. So, I couldn’t go about trying to change the world per se, but I most definitely could change the world for one dog. I trawled quite a few sites, both UK and abroad – Spain, Cyprus, Romania, Spain again, Romania, UK, Romania…. One site stuck out – for me. A lady who was a teacher by day and a carer for over 100 dogs by night/spare time had her story. It was no worse than some others I’d read, but when I read that she’d just taken in 18 pups barely 8 weeks old, that would have been put to sleep, I felt the tug.
We all get it at some point in life. Not always about animals. Sometimes it’s children or elderly or disable people, or gardens, or buildings, or old cars … something somewhere hits a note in the heart that sings just slightly louder than the melee of other notes and there’s the tug. Some call it passion, some a calling, but whatever name you choose it’s that defining moment that leads you in a different direction from the one you intended. That’s also the point we can choose to ignore what we know and carry on our merry way, a pang of guilt or doubt or a 2nd thought soon wiped away by life itself and it’s forever busy goings on.
Sometimes we don’t ignore it, we’re tugged closer, pulled into the outstretched arms of the melody that begins to rise from that one different note. We look, we search, we ask, we read – each time knowing that the more we know the more we’ll be dragged deeper into the song.
When I saw the pups, barely old enough to be away from their mum, I wanted to help. After all, what animal/dog lover can turn their head from a babe in need, especially those of one of the species of animal that truly does just bond with man on a whole different level? Practically, I couldn’t do a huge amount, I couldn’t house them all, pay a fortune for care or drive over and rescue the lot, but tiny stones dropped in a pond make a foundation on which someone can stand one day. I sponsored and offered to foster one (Maiya) , and said I’d adopt another (Tess) to have as a playmate for my Annie as was the original reason I was looking.
Maiya from a public shelter was to be put to sleep if nowhere could be found for her and 17 other pups
Tess when she was first rescued from a Gypsy cellar with her siblings who were all kept in the damp and the dark.
It didn’t seem much but the money I paid for both to be transported to the UK, plus the sponsorship money, paid for food for them and a lot more besides. All of the medical costs for vaccines etc was included in the adoption pack for Tess and I could have avoided costs for Maiya (fosterers don’t pay these the charity does) but that note in my heart twanged regularly and I didn’t mind paying a bit extra.
All but 2 of those pups are now in safe, happy homes across Europe as fostered or adoptee pets. The success of this drive is testament not only to those who’s heart played a specific note that they could not ignore but also to the woman who took them in, loved them and made them ready to leave, whilst still caring for another 100+ dogs, working as a teacher in a school and being a wife and a human being to boot.
Why didn’t I ignore it all when there are thousands of dogs in UK rescues? Simple answer is: – the UK rescue centers have many volunteers not just 3, they have a lot of ‘press’ and reasonable funding, some even from the government, and the dogs here are safe already. Many people adopting a pet will go to RSPCA or the like, or even a local place: that’s the first place they’ll look. We did the same with Joe and Annie. The issue with Romania is longstanding and is now becoming known but has been overlooked to the point of utter meltdown for dogs. The UK is well known as a country of dog lovers, there’s plenty of love to go around.
In Romania dog lovers are rarer as most people see these animals as vermin and starve them, hurt them beyond what we could imagine and then leave them to die. At the very least the country is so over-run the population is exploding ridiculously. A massive neuter drive is also happening but it can’t keep up. Years ago dogs were loved in the country but social and economical happenings changed people’s lives and attitudes and dogs went feral.
I can’t save them all but so far I’ve saved 3…and that is reason enough for me.
My story is for the one that struck that note then struck the chord, the chord became a song I could not ignore – I still sponsor with the few pounds spare and Barclay and Sophie are among the many that need to be taken out of that dog hating trap called Romania – but for the animal lovers of this world that’s a whole other story.
If you as a reader have an interest (and if you don’t you won’t have got this far) then take a look at the links for Barclay and Sophie and go from there – Maybe your song will begin too.
It’s 19th June 2014. Joe died 6 months ago on 23rd December 2013.
Joe was a 6 year old beautiful boy taken from us after only 10 months by a cruel twist .. an accident .. lack of information .. so I started a mini campaign. And I’ve just read about another poor soul, a friend of a friend, having to wait to see if his dog will survive a stick injury. Heartbreaking.
Ok so writing about it channelled my grief but the whole thing goes beyond that.
What was to be thought a rare freaky accident turned out to be all too familiar to vets and families worldwide. What was thought to be a personal kick in the nuts turns out to be a case of ignorance is most definitely not bliss.
I received hundreds of comments on my first post after Joe died. I received hundreds of facebook and twitter comments too. The current WP views are at over 139000 which is great, and yet not enough. Dogs are still being treated for nasty stick injuries, vets see a few each month. I can’t preach and stay stop it, but I can let anyone and everyone who cares know what a potential danger stick throwing is: better than being totally ingnorate of the risks.
What happened to Joe, and happens to dogs all over the world at a frighteningly all to often occasion was borne of ignorance, stupidity, even years of “that’s what we do with dogs”. We simply never thought about the consequences it could bring.
Historically, when man decided to have dogs as pets and not merely working companions (not all that long ago in the UK) chasing a stick was a favourite game. We’ve all seen the old adverts in faded yellows and reds with a boy, stick in hand and his faithful dog pantng happily as he waits for the ‘toy’ to be thrown. Why should we think it’s dangerous? We see things like celebs on the One Show with their dog, happily throwing it a stick, or in videos…. Dogs and stick throwing seems synonimous
These are but a few stories of reasons why we should try and change this……………..
http://www.croftreferrals.co.uk/news read Flick’s story
The list goes on.
Please think twice before you throw a stick for your dog to chase.