Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fight? Flight? Euthanasia? Celebration?

GREETINGS FROM SOUTH AFRICA!
MAXMOM here...



BANG!!!

After the first one, Tammy comes charging at me. Her expression tells me everything I need to know. These sounds are familiar and I feel a prevailing helplessness overshadow. This time, it’s “Diwali” and I believe this celebration can be five days long. It started yesterday.

Tammy’s eyes are saucers of blind terror. Her ears are firmly plastered back against her skull. And she is panting heavily. Those first bangs have shifted her brain into another, impossible gear – one of total, utter panic. Her face has instantly narrowed in response and she looks gaunt and old. In a few minutes her tongue will be blue too. She darts down the passage, crying, whining, only to sprint back again – to me, her only source of futile comfort.

BANG!!!

In the past we’ve tried everything. We stay home on these occasions. We close the doors and the windows too. We try and block off the invasive sound. We turn on the TV and the radio and turn up the music. We move all glassware off the low coffee table in our lounge. And we also reach for her prescribed tranquilizers and give her a double dose.

The effects of more explosions in our neighbourhood are shocking - to say the least! But I know that there is absolutely nothing I can do for poor Tammy – except to forge through this storm. There’s no telling how long these devastating celebrations will last. It’s at times like these that the idea of euthanasia is very much in the foreground of my mind.


BANG!!!

Tammy is one of the lucky ones however. Others, who don’t have their owners at home during these festivities, will try and seek refuge wherever they can. Some dogs impale themselves on palisade fences in a desperate attempt to escape their properties. Others run wildly – either to get horribly lost, or to meet their death in oncoming traffic. I know that tonight, the SPCA’s will have a massive intake. The emergency Vets will too.

I look on helplessly at poor Aunt Tam. She’s 11 years old now and doesn’t deserve this. I know my attempts to console her will all be futile. I look at the trail of white hair littering my carpet – there are tufts everywhere – all a sign that she is severely traumatised, already.

BANG!!!

For over two hours we sit and battle her terror as the explosions around our neighbourhood continue in earnest. Tammy’s response is to try and reach the highest elevation that she can. This means climbing on top of everything in an attempt to escape the assault on her senses. She scales the furniture, she claws at us, she cries, pants, turns in circles. Nothing works.

Her arthritis is the least of her worries. She climbs on top of us and reaches to the top of the backrest of the couch. Despite our ‘No!’s, she is determined to continue climbing upwards, as high as she can, even if she topples over the edge. Her plight is desperate. We pull her back safey, only to have her clawing again at our legs. She’s very strong and my attempts to help her are exhausting.

BANG!!!

“What shall we do?”

We decide to call an emergency vet – to get advice. This is the worst she’s been and the medication isn’t helping one bit. I explain our problem whilst Tammy whines and claws at my legs. She eventually bumps over the computer. Her panting makes it hard for me to hear the person on the other end of the line. She’s desperate and considers me to be her only escape route.

“There’s nothing more we can do,” the Vet explains. “You’ve given her the maximum dose. You’ll just have to wait it out.”

BANG!!!

I know it would be pointless taking her to the Vet’s rooms, because if they kept her overnight, she’ll gnaw at the cage and eventually be returned to me with bleeding gums and toenails. It’s happened before. I call another vet.

This time, they are more helpful. He’s in theatre, but the receptionist says she’ll ask him. Will I call back in 5 minutes time? Of course I will. I stand up and walk up and down the passage. Tammy follows me. Toby, too. He’s equally confused – his faithful ‘Aunt Tam’ is giving off mixed signals. I can’t sit down either, because she’ll shred my legs if I do. I already have telltale red stripes down my arms. I can’t put her in the kitchen either because she’ll claw the door down and shred her paw-pads. There are no answers – except to walk with her. Sitting on the floor is impossible because she climbs all over me, hugging my shoulders. Rubbing her ears is a futile exercise too – she won’t sit still. Wrapping her up in crepe bandages, shutting off her ears…all are pointless exercises.

BANG!!!

I’m back on the phone to the receptionist. “Give her another double dose,” she tells me. “It should knock her out.” I’m desperate now. I’ll do anything.

The bangs outside continue with escalating fervour. Tammy is hyperventilating by this stage. If she continues like this perhaps she’ll pass out herself and it will save me the trouble. Her tongue is blue from her efforts and I’ve never realised exactly how long it is, until this moment. She refuses all water – knocking over the water bowl in her confusion. She’s running rings around everything and taking on the fight of her life. She’s also fighting the effects of the medication now, together with the fireworks - as if her life depends on it. Hopefully she’ll eventually succumb to the medication.

---xXx---


The good news is that we made it through the night. But there’ll be another like this…and another. I don’t have the answers for my dear ‘Aunt Tam’. There’s only one –

BAN FIREWORKS!!!

But that isn’t going to happen. Humanity is far too selfish.

… Some of us humans call this a celebration! Really?
And there’s more to come: Halloween, Christmas, New Year and any other opportunity our species can get to 'have a blast'!

 I simply cannot understand it.


27 comments:

Bouncing Bertie said...

Oh poor Tammy. At least you don't also have Guy Fawkes Night (5th November) to contend with too...

Hamish, my normally calm dog, was terrified of fireworks and would run around the house barking almost continually for the last week in October (Halloween) and the first week in November (Guy Fawkes). I tried a sedative but one year it had no effect and the next year I doubled the dose and it completely knocked him out in a worrying fashion. After many years, the problem resolved itself with old age and deafness.

Bertie, my excitable little dog, has to date been completely unruffled by fireworks, to my utter amazement.

Special hugs to Tammy.
Cheers,
Gail.

STELLA and RORY from Down Under said...

Oh poor Tammy, we send you lots of extra puppy hugs and slobbers. We haven't experienced fireworks yet but in our little town in December we have a night of fireworks so we will have to see how we are. Hopefully mum will put the radio and TV on for us. Take care beautiful. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

Amber DaWeenie said...

Tammy, I'm so very sorry you're going through all of this. Our packmate, Rusty, has a very similar reaction to thunder. Now it doesn't even have to thunder. If the wind starts blowing, he knows a storm (or even just rain) is on the way. Fortunately, Rusty feels the safest in his crate and always runs to get into his crate during a storm. He feels safe just lying at the back of the crate and usually just falls asleep. We got him a "Thundershirt" (www.thundershirt.com) and it helps somewhat but he's still terrified of rain and thunder.

Scout 'n Freyja said...

Years ago I had a Great Pyrenees, Willow, who was so terrified of loud noise that she pushed the screen out of my second floor library window and was half way out to jump before I got to her! She also gnawed at the back door knob so desperately that she crushed it beyond recognition.

I know the helpless feeling watching your pet go through absolute misery and knowing that you've used all the tools in your arsenal and none seem to work.

Would it be possible to take her for a long, long car ride out into the country where there may not be the noise or does it permeate everywhere.

I have heard good things about the 'thunder jacket'. Thankfully, although Mr. Scout isn't fond of those loud noises, if we go down into the family room and listen to music or watch teevee he is distracted enough not to have a severe reaction. As for Miss Freyja, you could shoot a cannon next to her and she'd take it all in stride.

Becky said...

Oh so very sorry. They are in so many unexpected places. One of our favorite theateres does them at the end of each showing so we have to slip out early from the shows. Holiday Bowl Football game - after every touchdown led us out. Sending lots of love and hope they quiet down.

Sam said...

Hi Maxmom, Diwali is going on up here too. And we don't like the fireworks, loud bangs and firecrackers either. There's four of us and four panicky kids isn't good. It seems as though everyone has firecrackers and fireworks and an endless supply at that. Then we'll have Hallowe'en soon and that causes almost as many problems. It does not help that the City has a free fireworks show held in a park about 300 meters away. We understand. I'm assuming you'd like to euthanize the people setting off these fireworks :)

MAXMOM IN SOUTH AFRICA said...

HI there everyone.
Just a further comment about 'Euthanasia'.
Firstly, NO I am NOT going to Euthanase Tammy! Having said that, it is absolutely terrible watching the trauma of a distressed dog. We are heading for a 'season' of fireworks - Halloween, Guy Fawks, the entire Christmas season (with numerous large firework displays), New Year, etc, etc. How do you deal with such a traumatised dog over a long period? The whole scenario is absolutely impossible - for the dog.
Sending lotsaluv and thanks for your comments and suggestions.
MAXMOM IN SA

bbes tribe said...

Poor Tammy and you folks. We have heard good things about the Thundershirts. The dogs we have now don't like the sounds but aren't at the panic stage. Wishing you the best in helping her. We have a basement so sometimes when they are going off, we go down there and watch TV.
Wishing the best..
Ernie,Sasha,Chica,Lucas, and Mom

Josie said...

OMG....I can totally understand your concern and pain when I read your post. We HATE (loathe) the 4th of July over here because of the fireworks and unfortunately it goes on before, during and after. We have to strategically plan where we will be so that Josie will not hear them. Blues on the other hand does not care, but Josie becomes a shaking mess. Thank God we live in a Ranch house that has a very solid basement and my husband has a really good sound system so we usually don't go to any picnics (sorry friends) and we turn up the music, give her lots of toys to play with during the day to tire her out and pray she doesn't hear the deep tones of the fireworks coming through the ground. I've heard of police dogs clawing out of their cages...BAN FIREWORKS is putting it politely!!! One year we had her on our sailboat, this was before we had Blues and there were fireworks up and down the coastline...she was freaking out....and I looked at my husband and said NEVER AGAIN!!! My baby means too much to me to put her through that. Love you. Woofs and hugs, MB, Josie and Blues...praying that the next coming days are not so boomy....

Maggie and Mitch said...

Poor Tammy! We HATE fireworks! We so wish they were never ever invented. They're pointless!

Love ya lots,
Maggie and Mitch

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

OH, how awful for Tammy and you!!! We hope the celebrating torture goes away soon. We are so sorry she has to go through this.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

Two French Bulldogs said...

Poor baby. Mom blasted the TV so loud to drown out the firework noise we are deaf from the volume being so loud. Hope things are better today
Benny & Lily

Petey said...

Petey has the same reaction to lightning and fireworks where he wants to climb to the highest point (or hide under the bed). He literally pulled out of his collar this summer and ran for home when we were across the street at the golf course and fireworks went off. Fortunately, a cop grabbed him as he raced by. Not a happy guy. Can you medicate her a few hours before the fireworks begin then maybe give her a second dose later? Hope this passes soon!

Your pals,

Petey and Jane

Sam said...

Poor girl. We've been lucky to have always had dogs that are okay with thunder and fireworks, but we know how traumatic it can be. I wish we knew how to help.

Sam

Tessa the Maltese said...

Oh my that sounds just terrible!

Have you tried to use a Thunder Jacket on Tam? Ask Frankie Furter, it works very well for him.

woos, Tessa

The Life of Riley said...

My first golden was terrified of thunder and did what Tammy does, but didn’t bother about fireworks. In fact, if fireworks were going off at the top of our street he would want to go outside (always on a leash) to watch through the gate. With thunder, by the time the meds kicked in the thunder was often over, and I hated drugging him so much. So far Riley has been OK with fireworks and thunder (I try to act normal and ignore anything that startles him, only praising good behaviour or giving him some food when there is a loud bang, as I think perhaps my first dog learnt that if he trembled and showed fear he got attention), but I’m not sure how Enzo will be!

Guy Fawkes is the 5th, with fireworks on sale the week before so the noises over the next week will be interesting. You’d think Gundogs (like Golden Retrievers) would be OK with loud bangs - perhaps it has to do with desensitization when they are young. I remember reading the RSPCA in Britain recommended a CD to get animals used to loud noises. A quick web search found this,

http://www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/pets/general/fireworks

and a UK newspaper article about desensitization http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/2718221/Help-for-dogs-fearing-fireworks.html

I then found that the CD the UK RSPCA talks about can be bought in Johannesburg. http://www.kyronlabs.co.za/products/print.php?pid=109

Not an instant solution for your current Diwali fireworks, but it may help Tammy in future years, and also make Toby immune to loud noises.

The Life of Riley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Junior and Orion said...

Awwww, poor Tammy. We will be purring for her for the future fireworks time. We are very glad you stay home with her and at least try to comfort her.

Stella said...

Hi there! Stella says thanks for the birthday greetings!

I was most sad to read about Tammy's Storm/Noise phobia and wonder if you have tried the storm jacket http://www.thundershirt.com/lpc/ . Stella made me crazy with carrying on over storms, so we gave this a try. At first she didn't like it, but then as I kept her wearing it, it began to work for her. I leave it hanging on a door knob and now she asks for it! I have also heard that tight tee shirts will help them. Maybe a combo of the tranquilizer and a snug tee shirt might help her. Also check out
Linda Tellington's T Touch at
http://ttouch.com/ She once showed how to wrap a dog to comfort them. Good luck, I hope you find something that works for your girl!

Cheers,
Jo and Stella

bigdogzola.com said...

I've heard of this thunder jacket - not tried it yet but seen it on youtube..We get lots of fireworks in and around Monaco during the summer - there is even a world competition of different countries for who does the best displays! The seagulls normally let us know whats coming since they sqwauk and fly the other way in their hundreds just before the fireworks begin...horrid - Zola hates it and lies under the kitchen counter in a bit of a tremble - music goes on very loud in our place..I can only imagine how unbearable it must be round your place..we normally go somewhere else those nights but unfortunately where you are the festivities are everywhere..You could try the jacket and the desensitivity exercises..special cd with sound effects you play a little everyday first quietly and give Tammy a few treats as you slowly increase volume etc...we've done that and it does help but unfortunately nothing prepares you for the bangs that physically pulsate and vibrate through the house if the fireworks are nearby...poor doggies xxx

bigdogzola.com said...

I've heard of this thunder jacket - not tried it yet but seen it on youtube..We get lots of fireworks in and around Monaco during the summer - there is even a world competition of different countries for who does the best displays! The seagulls normally let us know whats coming since they sqwauk and fly the other way in their hundreds just before the fireworks begin...horrid - Zola hates it and lies under the kitchen counter in a bit of a tremble - music goes on very loud in our place..I can only imagine how unbearable it must be round your place..we normally go somewhere else those nights but unfortunately where you are the festivities are everywhere..You could try the jacket and the desensitivity exercises..special cd with sound effects you play a little everyday first quietly and give Tammy a few treats as you slowly increase volume etc...we've done that and it does help but unfortunately nothing prepares you for the bangs that physically pulsate and vibrate through the house if the fireworks are nearby...poor doggies xxx

Sheila and Bob said...

Caryl,
We have no suggestions, we have friends who have used the Thunder shirt and it has been successful and others who have had no success.
You speak for most dog owners all over the world, fireworks are horrendous.

Sheila & Bob

houndstooth said...

We've been through this, too, but not in as extreme a measure as you have. One thing that has helped us is the Thundershirt. I don't think that it will do any miracles for Tam, but it might help to take the edge off in combination with the medicines she's taking. I'm sorry you and she are having such a rough time!

Have you thought about giving her something to make her sleep before the fireworks start, like Melatonin?

Tweedles -- that's me said...

This is so awful to hear what is going on! We hate the fireworks too and out here in the country- all the shooting.
Poor Tammy,, and poor all of you.
We do not have any suggestions.
We wish shooting and fireworks was banned too.
I wish I could offer a suggestion

love
tweedles

sprinkles said...

Poor Tammy. I know this is equally as hard on you as it is on her.

24 Paws of Love said...

So sorry to hear of your frightened little Tammy. I have never understood the celebration of fireworks. I just don't get it.

So many dogs are so traumatized by them. Such a scary experience for you and her.

Wish I had an answer...

Curt Rogers said...

Have you tried the Thundershirt? It made all the difference with Duncan over Independence Day last summer. It's amazing. He was behaving exactly as you described poor Tam.

Give it a try, Caryl!

http://www.thundershirt.com/Default.aspx

And my own post about it. http://whilewalkingduncan.blogspot.com/2011/07/thunder.html

I've recommended it to numerous people and they've all been met with success.