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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Thunder Phobia what a blast!

The greater area of Northern Central PA was under severe thunder storm and tornado warnings on Sunday 6, 6, 2010. (One more 6 and we would all be in trouble! 666 get it?) One tornado was reported to have hit land in Bradford County. Where the heck that is, shamefully I do not know after living here for 17 years, but it must be close because it was on my local yocal news station where the backyard guest in the spring /summer months is a gardener extraordinaire or a whacked out leprechaun who is really a big red headed fellow dressed funny! Kinda creepy!

So, where were you when this news was filtered over the airwaves? Me? I was outside picking up dog poop for the first hour and upon my return to check the status of my face book account, I learned that one tornado may have already touched down. After all, isn’t Face Book where all the important news is?

I hustled to get all the dogs inside to safety should something come our way. The dogs though, were way too sedate for such  excitement that I was preparing for so I figured we were in the clear, although I could see the darkness blanketing the hills that surround the valley in which I live. I could see the tree limbs and the four foot leaves of my lily’s rustling in the air as the atmosphere seemed to grow thicker and hang over the mountains. My stomach rumbled like the thunder that was about to befall us and so I thought, ‘Humm, what’s to eat!’

Yes, we’ve arrived into the dreaded storm season and the phobias that some dogs go through at just a hint of a barometric pressure drop makes you want to pull your hair out! That would include my Bentley boy who sets the whole tone for the rest of the dogs in the house if we give that anxious behavior any attention.

I often wonder if they all carry on like this when no one is home to hear it! Hmmm, maybe I need to keep a tape rolling and leave the house during the next storm!

What’s the worst thing to do with a dog that has thunder phobia? Well, we as humans have a tendency to talk softly and use sweet words of, “it’s okay baby, don’t be scared,” then we give the dog a big old hug or hold it on our lap and dribble and drool all over it.

WRONG! Why? Because at the exact moment that they are feeling anxious, we, the caring humans that we are, are actually reinforcing that very behavior that is making them into big wusses!

So what should we do? Well if possible ignore the behavior, if it’s not possible to ignore it then work the dog in commands so his mind is on that rather than the storm. It is also perfectly fine to let them go in a closet, a bathtub, or hide under the bed if that makes them feel safe. What is not okay is if you are right there with them coddling them with affection. Let them be to work through it!

I personally would gladly trade an annoying barking dog who can set off a whole household, with a pooch that prefers to hide in a bathtub. Hey, look at the bright side; he’s already in the tub so why not give him a bath!

So this brings me back to my nutty lovable boy Bentley, when he is behaving of course! Bentley is the father of the Newfoundland’s in my house, the one who is supposed to lead his children by example! Yeah right!

With the day’s events of thunder storm and tornado watches I took the opportunity to catch on tape how one dog’s actions inside the home can cause a ruckus among the others. Granted, it wasn’t the best time to do this, what with possible tornado's on the way, but I ceased the moment to make a demo tape for my beloved readers. Yes, I put my life on the line to show you a little bit of neurosis! Of course if I had been swept in the air by a tornado while taping this I could quite possibly have made a lot of money off the video, but alas I am not that lucky!

One last note. Keep in mind that dogs that panic by pacing and barking during a storm, can cause themselves to get heat stroke and larger dogs can cause themselves to bloat because they are hot and more likely to drink quickly and take in air. The air  can turn to gas trapped in the belly, all leading to bloat. So before PETA gets on me for having Bentley tethered inside the home, it was for his safety.

Click here and enjoy the video! ( Pay no attention to that big goober on Bentley's face, to have removed it , which equals soft touch, would have been a reward at the wrong time. Dog goop, get over it!)

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