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.