Have I had my work cut out for me this evening.
Our friend has been in hospital today, and it looks like he may be kept in overnight.
No problem really, as we are here to look after the dog and the house for him.
Did I say ‘No problem’?
Add a thunderstorm.
My previous experience with dogs and thunder has been traumatic and upsetting.
In 1980, I went to work one afternoon leaving my dog in the kitchen as normal.
When I got home at 5.30 and opened the kitchen door, she greeted me as expected. but what I didn’t expect was to find my kitchen in chaos.
The fridge/freezer doors were both open, wires were exposed, the inner moulding torn to shreds, and the contents strewn all over the floor. It was a miracle she hadn’t thrown herself through the glass back door in terror.
And all because of a thunderstorm.
It was the year of erratic and unpredicted thunderstorms in the UK, and the vet recommended medication.
We tried it, and it more or less knocked her out to a zombie status. She didn’t know where she was and as the effects wore off, she was disoriented and confused.
I tried taking her to work with me and leaving her in the car (something I would NEVER dream of doing today, even though I walked her in my lunch hour and checked on her often as my boss was a dog lover and understood), but it didn’t work, especially when we had a storm and I spent over an hour trying to pacify her.
On further discussion with the vet, he said we would have to dope her up every day just in case, and gradually have to increase the dose to such an extent that she would be a junkie.
After the kitchen episode, we felt we had no choice. It was the only time she walked into the vet’s surgery without protest.
Maggie’s predecessor also didn’t like thunder and would hide in the bath behind the shower curtain until it was all over. When we replaced the bath with a shower cubicle, he would hide under our bed, although once he tried to get in it and growled at me when I removed him. It was pitiful to see him so unnerved and know there was nothing we could do to reassure him, but at least he managed to handle it in his own way.Buddy is a big dog, a heavy chap weighing in between 45 and 50 kg.
He is also a pacer, a whiner, and a I-want-to-get-on-your-lap-cos-I’m-frightened dog.
The thing is, he gets on our friend’s lap, but then tries to get on his shoulders like some kind of parrot. If thunder hits at night, then Buddy’s in the bed, on our friend’s head, and there’s absolutely nothing he can do except hope he can come up for air occasionally!
Maggie isn’t quite that bad, though she does tremble and comes to either of us for reassurance. Most times, she will get up behind me in a chair, or alongside me on the bench or in bed when we’re home on the boat. So long as she can feel physical contact, she may settle, but is not happy until the storm has passed.
For the duration though, we try to act as normal, not making too much of an issue of it, and may turn up the radio or put our classic CD on.
Imagine therefore canine anxiety in stereo, as I had two dogs vying for lap space!
Maggie got up in the chair behind me, and Buddy tried to follow suit. This resulted in quiet growls from her ladyship (my mummy!).
Buddy then tried to get on my lap, and I had to push him down, he’s just too big and heavy, and would have crushed Maggie behind me.
He eventually settled on my foot and as long as I rubbed his neck (both hands), he was OK. He kept looking behind at me though as if checking I was still there, or maybe in the hope there was space for him on my lap now.
The storm lasted about an hour, and both dogs are now contentedly giving it ZZZzzs in close proximity to Hubby and I.
Maggie has collared the settee space beside me (with cushion)
and I had visions of Buddy coming up on the other side which would have been OK, as there’s plenty of room here. He is actually flaked out under the chair at Hubby’s feet.
It will be bedtime soon, though I don’t anticipate any problems with final wees as the air is clear and it’s stopped raining.
It looks like we had some hail though, as I had to do a double take at the layer of white stuff on the ground!