It doesn't seem fair, does it, that there should be fireworks and thunder going on at the same time? Those pops, booms, and staccato bursts of machine-gun like explosions are reserved, aren't they, for hot summer nights, clear and dry, with lightning bugs speckling the darkness. And thunder? Well, if it's rumbling all around with increasing, sky-lighting flashes, shouldn't the human pyrotechnics be saved in paper bags by the door for another night?
Last night, we had both going on simultaneously, and my mention of this leads to an obvious insight on your part: Yes, I have a dog. When the thunder starts, my dog shivers uncontrollably. If I try to hold him, he won't be held. If I put him on the bed with us so that he can try to go to sleep and tell him that "This is the safest place in the world," he will jump down and emit high-pitched whines in the darkness. He will move irrationally from place to place, so the whines begin to come from all over the room. If he seems close, and I reach out, I will grab nothing but air. If I turn on the light to locate him, he will back away when I call him.
And when there are fireworks and thunder, there is no respite. Such was last night.
We had friends from Florida with young boys over the other night, and we were out in the backyard playing Spikeball and could hear the beginnings of the evening fireworks around us.
The oldest one said to me, "Did you hear that? That sounded like a gun."
"That wasn't a gun," I said.
"How do you know it wasn't?"
"Because I hear them all the time," I said, casually. "And that wasn't one."
"But how can you tell?"
My expertise kicked in. "Guns have a sharper sound. They are more sporadic, random. Sometimes you can hear another, more distant or different sounding gun shooting back." I have to admit I was kind of amazed at what was pouring out of me. "Oh, yeah," I said, "And it's usually later at night that you hear them. They wake you up and you say, that was a gun."
There is a way to keep my dog safe from his terror of loud noises. It is called a Thundercoat, and we own one, though I couldn't put my hands on it, if I had to. It is a tight-fitting canine garment, and its snugness gives the animal comfort, like its mother is protecting him. If you've ever been held tightly, you can quickly grasp how it works, or is supposed to.
You see, there is a design-flaw to the Thundercoat--you must put it on the dog before the thunder starts. If the dog does not feel secure before the noise begins, the coat is worthless. That leaves a couple of choices: 1) trust the Weather Channel to be able to tell you when a thunderstorm is coming or 2) keep it on your dog all the time. But a tight, secure embrace all of the time? That would be like an American citizen wearing a bulletproof vest to work or school everyday. What kind of life would that be?
Even if we grant the weather people a fighting chance, there is still no way to predict when the fireworks will start or stop (around here, it is often many days after the 4th before all of the ordinance is gone). Or when a national exuberance to celebrate means firecrackers in the rain. Or when the holiday is over and you know there will still be explosions in the night that leave me awake wondering what lit the fuse and knowing that the coat won't save anyone.