I’ve already said that I love this time of year, and I used to love going to the local bonfire and seeing a fantastic firework display. As I child I remember my Mum & Dad letting of fireworks in the garden on 5 November, waving bright sparklers, with the smell of gunpowder in the cold air. I also remember being told over and over again, never to go back to a firework that had been lit, even if it hadn’t flared yet. This was reinforced by some of the scariest public information films of the 1970s; one played the nursery rhyme ‘Boys & Girls Come Out To Play’, and I couldn’t listen to the rhyme afterwards without having nightmares.
Nowadays I’m not so keen on fireworks because my dog, Whiskey, is absolutely terrified of them. As a puppy he wasn’t fazed by anything, but gradually over the years his fear of noises that he doesn’t understand has steadily got much worse. A couple of years ago, the sound of fireworks actually caused him to have a panic attack, and I did sign a petition asking the government to limit the use of fireworks. This was not debated as there had been one a few months earlier, and the government response was that restrictions already exist, and it had no plans to extend them – the full response can be viewed here.
Fireworks are a spectacular way to mark special occasions, and if they were limited to affordable managed events and particular occasions, us pet owners would be better able to manage our pets’ fears.
Whiskey now has a ThunderShirt, an anxiety coat for dogs, and at this time of year we always make sure that he has his walk before it gets dark, and is then settled in home with the radio turned up loud. The problem comes when fireworks are let off at random times during the day and year. The advice these days from vets and animal specialists is to keep things as normal as possible. If your pet wants to hide, then let him. If you’ve always given him cuddles when he’s been upset, then continue to do this. VetsNow have prepared 17 helpful tips for dealing with anxiety on their website.
Everyone that know me understands that Whiskey is my world, and I would do anything to keep him happy.