Things That Go Boom

We are finally in the season where fruit tastes like fruit and vegetables taste like vegetables. You know what I mean. Some of those “box store” apples and melons and berries taste like … well, they taste like nothing. As if the flavor was sucked out and a preservative was shot in. They “look” fabulous, but that’s where the fabulous ends. 

(This morning it was 90 degrees before it even hit 10:30 AM. We are in for a challenging week. Full disclosure, I am sitting inside my house at a perfectly cooled temperature, but I know it’s almost dangerously hot outside). 

We drove by the river and saw dozens of folks in the sand bars, desperate for some relief. The rivers are still running high this early in the year. I can’t help but hold my breath as we go by as if that could magically keep everyone safe. But I do it. My superstition is much more powerful than my indifference. 

I took a walk at Nisqually earlier today. It was a delight, as it always is, but I’m dragging a bit. Last night was another “fireworks show” at the vendor area near the casino up the hill. It’s 90 minutes of constant explosions that rattle the windows on our 25 year old house. 

Our boy was fine, early in the evening, but as “the show” amped up he was desperate to be free of his sleep crate. He charges down the stairs but there’s no escape and no relief. These early weeks of summer have become something to endure. I see nothing at all worthy of this painfully loud “celebration”. 

If it were one night, we could plan. If there were a start and an end, we could get far, far away from the raging rockets and aerial explosions. I don’t remember our terrier being this afraid in his younger days, but he cannot be consoled. I just want to hold him tight but I don’t know when it will begin or end. Like a locomotive that jumps the tracks. I can’t see it coming. 

So what is it about dogs and fireworks ? I want to understand it so I know how to help him. He’s 12 and a half. His hearing seems perfectly fine. We’ve tried everything it seems: Thundershirt, white noise machine, cbd. I even spent some time trying to reward him with treats each time he failed to respond to a loud “boom”. He isn’t fooled. 

Two years ago I got a prescription from the vet but I could not give it to him. I read about it and then tucked it away deep in the cupboard. Maybe you’re wondering why ? Let me tell you. There are two common “drugs” used to treat noise anxiety in dogs. SILEO, which prevents specific reactions in the nervous system and TRAZADONE, which is an anti-psychotic drug in the tranquilizer family. Both come with a long list of side-effects and both can be deadly if not dosed correctly. 

I just can’t do that to him. 

Some dogs are terrified of fireworks. More dogs go missing on the Fourth of July than on any other day. Their sense of hearing is more acute than ours. Not only do they experience a wider frequency they hear sounds from further away. I know how jarring these explosions can be for me, imagine hearing them in a frequency that makes them seem louder. Closer. Sheesh.

Fireworks are also unpredictable in every way. Your dog won’t know when or where the sounds are coming from and from that perspective all loud sounds are perceived as a threat.

It may also be possible that your dog is feeling somehow trapped. As the explosions become more alarming, the sympathetic nervous system ( the fight, flight or freeze response) kicks in and this is often when the unbecoming behaviors kick in too. (Property destruction, running away … )

The drug SILEO is designed to prevent certain reactions in the nervous system. So does this mean that my dog would experience it all without being able to respond ? Good lord. 

No thanks. 

Fireworks have been around for 2000 years. The bamboo shoots tossed in the fire by the Chinese alchemists in 200 BC to discover the secret to eternal life are nothing like what we see today. Originally discovered “by accident” they have morphed into something infused with chemicals to make the colors brighter, the explosion louder. Oh, and did I mention that those chemicals are toxic to the environment ? (How could they not be ?) 

The fireworks “business” is a billion dollar a year industry. (1.3 billion in 2019 ). For you numbers folks, that equates to roughly 268 million pounds of fireworks, or one pound for every man, woman and child in America. They cause over 19,000 fires every year and upwards of 12,000 injuries. 

It’s 103 degrees right now with no rain in sight for days. The little city I live in is tinder. My little boy is snoozing comfortably, but that could change at any moment. The air quality is dropping, the fire danger rising.

Can someone please tell me why we have to “celebrate” in this way ? I’m looking for real comments and real feedback.

13 Comments on “Things That Go Boom

  1. I was so excited when I saw the Lewis Co. headline about dry conditions, fire danger on the 4th. They’re going to ban fireworks this year! I thought. Ha. Ha. Ha. It’s Lewis Co. They would never do such. They might have to enforce it, and that would be unpopular. Just guidelines for staying safe. (Like Safeway “encouraging” unvaccinated people to wear a mask in the store.) They are restricted to only the 4th though. We’ll see. Other than a random noisy night in mid-June, it’s been quiet so far.

  2. I was so excited when I saw the Lewis Co. alert about fire danger this weekend. They are banning them! I thought. Ha. Ha. Ha. This is Lewis Co. They wouldn’t dream. Because then they might have to enforce it, and that would not be popular. Nope. Just some guidelines to stay safe. Yeah. Right.

    • Omg, I’m with you on it feeling like “a suggestion” instead of a law. W T actual F ? I will never understand people with such blatant disregard for others. It is beyond my understanding. Auburn and Centralia are pretty similar in that regard. So frustrating. Sorry you have to endure it too. 

  3. Sorry your dog has such a hard time at this time of the year. There is no perfect remedy for his reactions. We lived in a heavily forested rural area two hours north of you for many years. Around the 4th, I always feared there would be a raging fire that surrounded us. It never happened, but I do not like the fireworks set off near this holiday. Hope your dog manages okay.

    • Thank you. Last year was the worst I’ve ever experienced by far. This year we have a plan for the Fourth that involves taking him far away from here for the bulk of the night. I am hopeful we can spare him the worst of it.

  4. It is also quite hard on military veterans. My neighbor in Federal Way used to head out to a secluded camping spot for the 4th. The terrifying noise of the fireworks was too similar to his combat duty overseas.

    • Agreed. I feel for all beings affected by this explosive “celebration”. I just don’t get it.

  5. It is such a helpless feeling. I really have a hard time understanding the draw to such explosives. As I mentioned, we could plan for a day or even a few days, but this goes on all of June at random times. Big snuggle to your 8 year old. It will be over here by this time next week. We have a plan for the next bad night (the 4th) !!

  6. I got one as well, a flight-or-fight responder at thunder and fireworks. 🙁 I have never medicated him either. He is 8 (middle-sized mix dog). When he was really young, we had him with us for the New Year’s Eve in a square in Slovenia and of course, when midnight hit, all sorts of shit went down and up in the sky and he pulled towards home, and ever since he trembles and tries to climb furniture and scratches at things and knocks them off shelves when there is a storm, fireworks, hunters or any unidentified noise. He is better now with age, but still far from calm. I noticed that it helps the most if I close all windows and play my music quite loud. He’s good with any genre. 😀 I put his leash on him so that I can control him, and then he calms down by my feet eventually. Do not ask me about my opinion on pyrotechnics. 🙁 All well to him and you.

    • So hard. We have just a week or so to go before the worst of it is over. The Fourth is when it all looms large. I’m so befuddled by those who are drawn to this stuff. Sigh …

  7. Well, you’re not alone. Every 4th, for the week before and after, Next Door and Facebook are filled with please for silence. Gun folks like to shoot their weapons off too. So annoying. Have you tried noise cancelling headphones? I wonder if a dog would keep them on once he figured out how effective they are. Kids like them.

    • Sooo ironic that you mention those headphones. I was just looking at them, digging through reviews, wondering if he would wear them. The noise begins here on June 5th and goes through the 5th of July. Crazy.

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