I learned a long time ago to pay attention to my dogs’ moods and behaviours. When the girls are sitting happily idle, or playing with their toys, or dozing (and snoring) I know there’s nothing to worry about—all’s right in our world.
However, when they go very quiet (suspicious in any instance) ears cocked and listening (usually followed by a sudden, explosive volley of wild barking and a mad headlong dash to either the front or back door)—then I know I need to pay attention. There is definitely something ‘out there’ . . .
Sometimes the girls are simply letting me know that the neighbours have visitors (they’re nosy, my girls, and they assume that I am too), or the postman’s delivered something for them, or (the nerve of it) next door’s cat is sitting in their front yard. But sometimes they are telling me, the only way they know how, that it could be time to take the washing off the line, close the doors and windows and batten down the hatches, because there is inclement weather on the way . . .
I pretty much know the ‘storm’s-a-comin’ signs now. When the girls start to pace, tense and on their tippy-toes, with ears’ pricked and noses’ twitching—it’s not visitors, or the neighbour’s cat, or the postman—it’s for sure there’s a storm approaching. (I swear they are more reliable than the BOM.) So with the turn of the season now upon us and a sudden onset of seemingly neverending rain-and-thunder storms over the past couple of weeks, you would be right to imagine that doggy-tempers in my household have been somewhat fraught . . .
I myself have never minded storms. I mean, I would really rather not be caught outside in the middle of one, but if I am inside at home, or at work, the boom of thunder and flash of lightning doesn’t bother me at all.
Because of this I have always assumed that if I remained calm and unruffled during a storm my dogs would pick up on that, realise there was nothing for them to worry about, and stay calm themselves. And this approach worked very effectively when I had my first dogs, Harry and Frank. They were never even slightly fazed by extreme weather. Harry would happily snore his way through a pounding thunderstorm, and Frankie used to like to sit, half inside and half outside his doggie-door (with his backside in the warm house, and his front feet and head outside in the wind and the rain) and watch the tempest rage around him.
That same approach has worked pretty well with Maudie and Molly. Although they still definitely don’t like storms I find that talking to them in normal tones or sitting quietly and reading (with both of them sitting on my lap of course) is usually enough to calm them enough to see the storm through.
Mabel has been harder to convince.
Since she was tiny Mabel was always the first to let me know when a storm was imminent. She would become whiney and agitated and snappy with her sister (who would, of course, respond in kind) and she would prowl the house, shaking and whining and panting. Like most doggy loving parents I tried everything (short of medication) over the years to try and ease her through these trying times and I eventually found that a Thundershirt did the most to help relieve her storm anxiety (although she always did look somewhat embarrassed when wearing it . . . ‘I’ll wear it but please don’t let anyone see me . . . ‘)
It has taken a couple of years but I am now happily able to report that we haven’t had to resort to the wearing of the humiliating thundershirt in quite a while now. (I hope saying that out loud hasn’t jinxed us). Although it has taken a lot longer than I had hoped I think my perseverance has finally started to pay off and my calm, quiet, relaxed approach to storms is finally working on Mabel. Don’t misunderstand me. Mabel will always be frightened of storms, and the first thundering boom will still send her flying across the room and on to my lap (momentarily scattering the already settled in occupants) but she gets nowhere near as terrified as she used to. I’ll take that. It’s a blessing. For all of us . . .
. . . and especially so as the BOM says we are in for another round of storms today and more over the weekend. Sigh.
But, you know, when I left the house this morning my three little weather-trackers were all cuddled up together and sleeping soundly, so hopefully we might have at least a couple of hours respite before another ‘dark and stormy night’ sets in again.
We can but hope . . .
March 22, 2017 at 10:30 pm
I am quite sure he is saving a spot for you Sal – and Frankie being Frankie he will be prepared to look after it for quite some time (thankfully) 🙂
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S. A. Young
March 17, 2017 at 1:23 pm
I like Frank’s style! If he’s not with you any longer, I can only assume he’s happily watching storms 1/2 in and 1/2 out of his door, wherever he is now. 😊
March 18, 2017 at 7:15 am
Frankie’s been gone many years now. He was one of the most loving and happiest dogs I have ever known. He found joy in absolutely everything and I miss him dearly still. I like to think he is still out there (with his brother Harry) ‘over the rainbow bridge’ spreading the love (and his quirky little habits) . . . and saving me a spot next to him for when we meet again. 🙂
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March 17, 2017 at 10:44 am
Nice post Sal!
Have you offered your (doggie) services to the BOM yet?
Might be quite lucrative – and all of us would be very grateful for accurate weather reporting.
They (BOM not the dogs) got it completely wrong yesterday – but why am I not surprised?
Did anyone lose their job? Don’t think so 🙂
March 17, 2017 at 11:49 am
I have already thought about sending Maudie out to work as a scarecrow – and now Mabel as a weather tracker. I just have to think of something productive for ‘the Molly’ to do. (I immediately thought of taste-tester but that wouldn’t really work as she will eat almost anything . . . )
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C. C. Cedras
March 17, 2017 at 10:27 am
This is a precious story.
Fergus doesn’t like thunder over much, so my counteractions start with playing fetch, to administering a Calm supplement (all herbal), coupled with singing Moon River. Don’t ask me how we settled on Moon River. 🙄 Still, it works all the time.
Say. I’m always scrambling for blog topics…maybe I need to mine the Moon River therapy.
March 17, 2017 at 11:44 am
Moon River therapy! Sounds fabulous. I am going to go home and try it this evening (my friend Pammy is coming over for drinkies – we can try a duet!) 🙂
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