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A Ten-Minute Thunderstorm Leads to a Week of Trauma

Last weekend, at five in the morning, there was a thunderstorm. These are rare where we live — really rare. Like, once-a-year rare. And this one was loud. My husband and I both hopped out of bed expecting to see that the school across the street had been hit by a meteorite, or the flames of an oil refinery explosion by the river a mile or so away. But there was nothing. The street was quiet, and so far, dry.

Danny, however, was not reassured. He was trembling. While the cat (he’s no longer a kitten at one year and 14 pounds) ran to the window to fight off this new, loud foe, Danny shook in terror. For the first time in his life, he was allowed into the bedroom, where I crouched around him and squeezed him tight. Doug got back into bed; the next morning, he told me he could feel Danny shaking the furniture. A lightning bolt would flash, I would warn Danny (not that it did any good), and he would recommence trembling with renewed verve.

Eventually, a few drops of rain fell, and ten minutes later, it was all over. We let Danny sleep on the floor in the bedroom.

Little did I realize, though, that this one thunderstorm would linger in our house. Danny’s big ears have never been keen on loud noises. If there’s too much bass in a movie’s explosions when we’re streaming Netflix, he heads for the landing on the staircase. He is not a fan of fireworks, but neither am I. I’m sure he, too, realizes that someone could lose a finger.

Last night, someone in the neighborhood had three leftover fireworks, apparently, and they shot them off at 9:45. Recommence trembling. I moved from the couch to Danny’s bed in front of it and held him with one arm while I finished watching So You Think You Can Dance. This morning, city workers started doing maintenance on the grounds of the school next door. It’s loud, but not that … oh. Recommence trembling. Under my desk.

I’m sincerely hoping for a quiet August … and September … maybe the rest of 2011 … so that Danny can put this traumatic, noisy July behind him and go back to being a mostly brave dog. Maybe the cat can give him pointers.


4 responses »

  1. Ahhh! Oh no! Not good at all. It super sucks to see your dog that way, so sorry Danny lost all his dogly courage.

    I counter conditioned Elli’s fear of fireworks this month and it’s worked so splendidly there’s not ever more than an alert expression and then deep sleep once again, even for those it’s-way-past-the-4th fireworks people set off once and a while. It even appeared to work for the thunder last weekend! She alerted and curled up tighter and back to sleep before we went to work that morning. I call it a super success! Highly recommended, too.

    • I talked to another friend about it this morning, and she recommended the same thing. Actually, the training techniques we learned in Reactive Rover class would probably work to get him over this new-found fear. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Thundershirt, DAP sprayed on a scarf tied around the neck, Through A Dog’s Ear CD–all three are in our special kit for fireworks, thunder, and those other percussiony sounds. Thundershirt stops the shaking for Maggie and she is a 9 out of 10 in Nose Phobia and the others help calm as well. Start now; over time it can get worse.

  3. I definitely like the DAP on a scarf idea, and I’ll look into the others, too. Thanks, Kathy!


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