|Ready to rock thunderstorms and silly human holidays.|
The Fourth of July was rough for us. I live just five minutes from the light rail station, and its large, empty parking lot is the ideal place for people to set off (illegal) fireworks. When we walk over there, the asphalt is littered with the remnants of things that go bang in the night. This has been going on since about the first of July, and even last night we heard some more pops and crackles. It's getting old. Ruby isn't as bothered by them, and in fact her thunderstorm phobia has been improving as well, but Boca is terrified of fireworks. I'm not sure if she has bad memories of them from her life on the street (I recently watched a video in which a camera is attached to a street dog in Mumbai, and children chase the dog with firecrackers) or just thinks the end of the world is coming, but she has grown increasingly worse and developed some unfortunate associations. Since some of the loudest explosions happened just after we went to bed several nights in a row, even after trying to stay up late watching loud TV, Boca is now afraid to sleep on the bed when the window is open (which is a necessity when you don't have AC on a 90 degree day).
Now that the fireworks should be winding down (except for a local display scheduled for the 25th celebrating the city's anniversary when we plan to skip town), I decided to purchase a Thundershirt for Boca, and I sure wish I had done so sooner. We were able to try it out on Thursday night when I arrived home from dinner with a friend in an impressive lightening storm, complete with sub-woofer thunder. There was a noticeable change in Boca as soon as she was swaddled in her pink polo. Rather than quaking and panting, she simply curled up in the bathroom with the fan running and seemed almost comfortable. She was able to fall asleep next to the bedroom door within minutes of going upstairs to bed. Last night I put it on again after we heard those firecrackers, and she curled up next to me on the sofa instead of hiding in corners. She even seemed to recognize that it helped her, because as soon as she saw me unfold it and say "Do you want your shirt?" she came over to be wrapped up. Ruby has a Thundershirt, too, but the difference it makes for Boca is much more dramatic. I am so glad to have it on hand now.
|Ready to roll in calm, quiet style.|
Boca wasn't the only one to try out something new this weekend. For a while now I've been looking at travel crates for Ruby. Her reactivity in the car is stressful for everyone, and not exactly safe if she sees a bike, motorcycle or dog before I can steel myself for her shrill and frantic barking. Counter-conditioning while driving isn't an option. Early on, I did transport Ruby in her crate, but she would get carsick and throw up every time. I related this to riding in a crate, but I now think that it was carsickness in general which she has outgrown. With an upcoming trip to the vet during rush hour for her annual wellness check, I decided it was time to implement a more peaceful commute. I ended up choosing this crate because it was inexpensive, I liked the size options and it had good reviews. It's lightweight, a cinch to assemble, and has adorable bone-shaped mesh windows. It has zip doors on the top and the front. I would not consider this crate for daily, unsupervised use, but for car travel I think it's perfect.
After setting it up with a comfy crate mat, I coaxed Ruby in with yellow cheese and set it up in the car. I can't tell you how wonderful it was not to hold my breath whenever I saw something Ruby would react to, or dread hitting a red light at an intersection where cyclists waited at the crosswalk. Ruby was a little nervous in the crate, but nothing like the overstimulated state she is in if we have the misfortune of being passed by a Harley tour or a dog barking in the back of a truck. Talk about a game-changer! I'll be much more apt to take Ruby more places now that the getting there isn't such an ordeal. It was poor planning to make her first trip in her travel den one to the vet, but she did great at her appointment and even did some of her tricks for the vet. Yesterday I improved the association by taking The Ginger Sisters to my barn for a hike on the property, and by the time I snapped the above photo she was loading up happily on her own. Another win for management of the reactive dog!
Have you ever had a dog product change your life?