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Tuesday, 28 June 2016


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Fireworks torture cats too. At least it does for ours.

Two words: Rescue Remedy, a Bach Flower Remedy found in health food stores. It is a liquid and comes in a bottle with a dropper or as a spray. Ten drops or a few sprays into the mouth and it will calm the dog down. This is a non-pharmacutical natural calming product derived from flowers and it is for humans too.

This has worked for four of my dogs for fireworks or thunder. Takes about a minute to kick in and you can start giving it before the noise starts.

Highly recommended.


Let me get this straight: Rather than address your situation with your dogs -- my dog is just fine around both fireworks and thunder, thank you! -- you're proposing instead that we change a tradition celebrated by tens, if not hundreds of millions of people one day each year? (rolls eyes)

[Sigh. I can never say things clearly enough that people won't misread. I said I concede the one day (of course), but that I wish people wouldn't randomly set of firecrackers for days before and after the day. --Mike]

At one time I had two dogs: a Greyhound and a mixed Lab. The Greyhound would drool, tremble and pant during a thunderstorm or fireworks while the mixed Lab would be sound asleep and snoring loudly.

I live near the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) and in the past they would have a nightly fireworks display and my Greyhound would stress out every night. The Greyhound lived to be almost fifteen and these days the CNE has fireworks only for Canada Day (July 1st) and closing night on Labour Day.

Today I have Rex, a mixed Terrier. He will stop eating when a low pressure zone arrives prior to a storm. This is strange since he always has an excellent appetite. He is not stressed out by loud noises.

For someone who is so careful when writing about photography and photographic gear, you continue to write broad sweeping generalizations about "Americans" and what "we" are like - but your generalizations really only describe your life, your family, your friends, neighbors and associates, and only for the places where you have lived. I never see myself, my family, friends and associates when you write about "us". Why won't you acknowledge that you are writing about YOU and YOUR experiences, not US or OUR experiences?

In this particular case, your description of July 4 is not recognizable to me. I've never see ANY friends, family members, neighbors or associates get drunk, shoot bottle rockets or guns on July 4. It has always been a holiday centered around family and particularly children, associated with parades, picnics in the park, watermelon, homemade ice cream, catching fireflies, and watching the fireworks after dark. As long as I can remember, my family has taken groups of immigrant children with us to watch the fireworks - we are all children again when we see the delight and amazement through fresh young eyes. YOUR experience might include drunks and guns, but mine never has - and I am American, too.

As for dogs, I am sorry that Butters gets anxious and I'm aware there are other dogs who also get frightened by the noise. But once again, my experience is different - none of my dogs in the past 50 years have shown any discomfort related to fireworks. On the other hand, most of my dogs dislike and are frightened by the vacuum cleaner - shall I call people (including myself) who use vacuum cleaners 'sociopaths' for 'torturing dogs on purpose'?

[I rewrote the post fairly substantially after receiving this comment to try to correct for some of what Sophia objected to. I want to make my point but I don't mean to upset people. --Mike]

Bottle rockets aren't as interesting rockets as Estes models, but they're much cheaper so you can fire off a lot more. Sending stuff zooming into the sky is amazing!

Summer is loud-noise-and-flashing-sky season anyway, with thunderstorms coming through quite frequently around here.

My childhood dog didn't like thunder, she was quite pitiful. But I'm afraid the chance of getting rid of fireworks on the fourth of July is zero. Other countries use them for their celebrations, too, and Disney World has a nightly show I believe. Fireworks are really popular.

Oh, and firing guns into the air is a bad idea, but I associate it with third-world countries mostly. (Some early tests, including the famous Hatcher's Notebook research, seemed to show that bullets returning from a high aerial excursion didn't have enough energy to be too dangerous, but later experiments suggest otherwise; probably the difference was that straight-up-and-down caused them to loose stabilization before impact, but ballistic arcs leave them still oriented and more ballistically efficient and hence moving faster.)

This time of year is always a good time to reread this article about bottle rockets:


I'm with you a hundred percent Michael and I live in Spain where this goes on for months! I have never seen the sense in this save for perhaps days of yore when country folk could neither read nor had telephones and noisy fireworks were the only way to gather them from the hills to church on certain important days in the ecclesiastical calendar.
I suffer greatly for dogs and other animals who cannot understand this senselessness in the human species. If I had the power to, I would ban it altogether and help teach people why this anachronism is totally unnecessary.

In the western states fireworks are often the cause of wildfires.
Far too many folks ignore common sense and every year we fear a fireworks-initiated fire taking out our town.

I'd recommend a ThunderShirt: https://www.amazon.com/Thundershirt-Anxiety-Treatment-Heather-Large/dp/B010JNJIIM/ref=sr_1_3?s=pet-supplies&ie=UTF8&qid=1467139807&sr=1-3&keywords=thundershirt+for+dogs. Our dog gets very nervous with loud noises, especially thunder and fireworks. The ThunderShirt wraps tightly around her and helps keep her calm.

We have one rescue dog who is terrified of fireworks and every year we try to take a trip to somewhere where there will be no fireworks so she won't be cowering terrified in a closet of frantically pacing around the house.

That said, I would strongly urge everyone to make noise desensitization a part of socializing their puppies. I've had several hunting dogs where I introduced them to progressively louder noises when they were puppies and none are bothered by loud noises or fireworks as adults.

People should carefully introduce their puppies to loud noises just like you should introduce them to children, bicycles, other dogs, etc.

The mutt (I use the word with affection) I grew up with crawled under a bed at the sound of thunderstorms so far away we couldn't hear them. Fireworks left her a quivering wreck.

Our first Golden Retriever amazed us by sleeping through the city fireworks on the Fourth. The next three retrievers were equally unimpressed by loud noises.

My dog is a very sweet 30 pound terrier who is absolutely terrified of thunder and fireworks. I stay around the house on the 4th so she has someone to hang with if there are fireworks in the neighborhood. Dogs as "livestock" is a different philosophy than one I live. I've met many, many dog that I like much better than many of the people I've come across in my life. Dogs are rarely mean.

Unlike Sophia, who must live in a very wonderful place, most holidays in Austin are exercises in mass traffic jams and mass public gatherings. The 4th of July adds endless noise, and a park filled with a mix of families, drunk young adults, drunk middle aged people and the constant presence of corporate messaging blaring from loudspeakers and on signage (aka: Sponsorship). The city fireworks display is done in the main park and is partly sponsored by a pop music radio station whose 4th of July playlist is mostly populated with Bruce Springsteen's, "Born in the U.S.A."

So, imagine an audience of about 200,000, sitting in on the dirt in a fairly small area, generally in 90-100 degree heat. Listening to really crappy music and waiting for the city to fire off the fireworks. Since there is no public transportation in Texas to speak of those same 200,000 all leave at once when the fireworks are and rush to their cars to join traffic jams that can take hours to clear.

The park is covered with trash and empty beer cans. Disposable diapers are mixed in randomly.

Spending the evening home with the dog seems like a privilege to me...

"In this particular case, your description of July 4 is not recognizable to me. I've never see ANY friends, family members, neighbors or associates get drunk, shoot bottle rockets or guns on July 4."

I would be curious to know where you live. I think I might like to move there

I am an American and have lived in Charleston (WV], Chicago, Chicago Suburbs, Lexington (KY), San Francisco, Oakland, Ft. Bragg (CA), Eureka (CA) and Boise (ID). In every one of those places I have heard people setting off firecrackers, fireworks, bottle rockets and and firing guns in the days leading up to July 4 and on July 4. I've seen drunks in all of those places year-round - not just on July 4.

I love fireworks, but the days before and after where every idiot in the neighborhood wants to set off firecrackers at all hours (and, full disclosure, I have been that idiot) irritate me no end. I have small kids and daddy needs his beauty sleep.

Two of my three dogs are terrified of fireworks. My youngest one was found on a state park and had been physically abused. Now she loves everyone, but she is extremely terrified of fireworks. Every 4th and Jan. 1 I book a hotel in a location where they won't be popping fireworks. I sleep better too.

Hate those holidays that bring out firecrackers. The only good thing about not having a dog right now is not having to worry about this issue.

My worst experience of this was many years ago when a neighborhood boy tossed a noise maker right at my dog and me as we were walking down the street. My frightened dog took off down the road and when I expressed my upset, the boy's father just laughed and took his side. From that day on I have had a perfect loathing for firecrackers and other bang-bang noisemakers.

My next dog was just like your Butters. Our Canadian fireworks holidays (May 24th Victoria day and Canada day on July 1st) were always hard to get through.


We do things better in the UK - we have our annual explosionfest in November, when the weather is usually so crap that it puts a serious damper on things (in every sense of the word). We celebrate the possible deliverance of an unpopular (and frankly weird) Scottish monarch from a (possibly fictitious) plot. At least it gives us the opportunity to celebrate the hanging, drawing and quartering of a handful of (probably innocent) Catholics. Compared with what has happened in this benighted isle in the last week, it all seems eminently sensible.

David Brookes

PS I am a cat person, but I have to admit that Butters looks absolutely adorable!

Living in Hawaii for five years in the 90s, the whole island of Oahu would look & sound like something out of a war zone for days leading up to new year's day, Chinese new year and the 4th of July, the three holidays for which it was legal to sell and use fireworks. Thick smoke everywhere and constant loud pop-pop of firecrackers, like gunfire. My Labrador retriever I had back then didn't mind the fireworks at all until one night some mean neighborhood kids threw some firecrackers into the yard - possibly at her. She was scared of fireworks and thunder after that. My two mutts now don't seem to mind it, but they also haven't heard anything like the nonstop use of firecrackers in Hawaii.

Now, I live outside DC and have some really nice pictures of the 4th of July fireworks over the National Mall (taken from Arlington Cemetery) - and you're right about what a spectacular sight that is - but the crowds for that get old fast, so I stay as far away as possible from the fireworks show now - I just don't want to deal with the crowds and traffic.

Fireworks are so passe these days, overused for any small occasion, so I'm glad I don't live in the US of A as they're bad enough here in Australia. On the other hand I don't have much sympathy for the dogs - their barking has disturbed my peace everywhere I have ever lived far more than a few days of fireworks have disturbed them.

My friend Tom, an architect, lit a Roman Candle for his children and remembers thinking he was doing the wrong thing the moment he looked down into it when it did not not go off. It DID go off and he wore a black eye-patch for the rest of his life. Made him look like a pirate but that's the price you pay. Tom would agree with Butters and all his friends. Leave it to the professionals or, better, just leave it.

Steve L.,
They also keep coyotes and foxes, weasels and mink away from the chicken coop, sheep and cows. Theh live in peace with the cats and animals we keep and raise.
They bite hell out of 'midnight riders' stupid enough to stop and try to siphon gas from the machinery or take items from the farmyard or barn.
They warn of someone coming into the drive before we know they are there. They are very protective and go after those who would raise an arm to strike the family.
We feed, water, groom, treat for flea and ticks and consider them family. They are inside and protected when temperatures get below zero.
You may not like them so you are cordially invited to walk into our barnyard area anytime after dark so they can greet you appropriately. If you are smart you will stay where you have no dogs to bother you and we will both be happy.

Have to admit, as a youngster I was facinated with pyrotechnics, not just 4th of July but any time. Since where I lived even ordnary firecrackers were illegal we 6th graders had to make our own. (And I don't mean ground up match heads) I could read chemistry books and knew nitrates were unstable so......
Trouble was, getting reagent grade nitric and sulfuric acid was not so easy for 12 year old kids, fortunately I'm sure for us. Gave us the opportunity to grow up and not blow up. We did mess around with potassium nitrate and rather crude home made gun powder, but it was slow burning and not too dangerous. Nothing so crazy as a group of 12 year old boys determined to make the biggest bang in the neighborhood.

1) It is true that dogs aren't people. On the whole, they are better than people. I've only found one human as loyal as a dog. I'm sure there are some but they are less common than they are among dogs.

2) Thunderstorms are a problem for dogs too. I used to sit in the middle of the floor with our two dogs during bad thunderstorms with one arm around each of them to calm them and recently it has been discovered that (at least for a lot of dogs) that a compression vest will calm them. You might try that for Butters. A brand called Thundershirts is available on Amazon. I'm sure there are others. Good luck with helping Butters get through the 4th.

Just the 4th of July? Well, I have two huskies, and I live a mile from Stanford Stadium, and they have fireworks after almost every game. The dogs don't like it, but they are getting used to it. So, be glad you only have fireworks on the 4th!

Our recently departed Dachshund wasn't scared by the sound of fireworks, he instead became angry and iritated. He would bark loudly as if to answer the noises with his own "return-hostility."
Oh, and all dog photos and stories are still OK.

Great op-ed piece, Mike.

My local 'dog whisperer' dog behaviour expert when I told her my dog was calmer during thunderstorms when wearing a Thundershirt, said, "So would you be wearing a strait-jacket".

My late father in law was an eye surgeon that was always on call on July 4th and had some real horror stories. Fortunately my dogs have always handled noise pretty well, except for the 100 plus pound German Shepard. He couldn't handle thunderstorms and would somehow get under our bed to hide. When the storm passed we had to lift one end of a really heavy bed up so that he could get out.

Here's an alternative: http://travel.excite.co.uk/town-in-italy-starts-using-silent-fireworks-as-a-way-of-respecting-their-animals-N52632.html

Here's an alternative: http://travel.excite.co.uk/town-in-italy-starts-using-silent-fireworks-as-a-way-of-respecting-their-animals-N52632.html

"If you think about it just a bit, explosives were developed for the sole purpose of tearing human beings apart."

Although the history of gunpowder is spotty, its first use as an explosive was probably to make firecrackers to drive away evil spirits and ghosts The Chinese attribute the invention of the firecracker to Li Tian, a thousand years ago.

It's not just dogs. It's dogs, cats, horses, farm animals, birds, deer, wildlife in general, and combat veterans who can be extremely sensitive to noise that sounds like gunshot/fire and battle.

Stray fireworks can start fires and they pollute the air. And many people don't like the sound either.

I think we can find other ways to celebrate our independence.

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