Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thunder Dog, Ho!

Maaco the Thunder Dog


Thunder storms. All week long, wet and wild, they unfurled across the states. They are wrecking havoc in our dog's life. They are wrecking havoc in our life. You see, we have a dog that is scared by thunder and lightning. TERRIFIED is a better word. After hours of storms each day, he is living on the edge, just one loud slam of a car door or backfire away from a trip to Crazy Town. And guess what? He's taking us with him. He spends most of the end of the day with ears pricked, edgy and on guard, for any sound of thunder or sight of a shank of light. He hasn't had a carefree, uninterrupted snooze in days.


We have three dogs--a white one, a black one, and a black and white one. It is interesting how they each react to the ripping, sizzling storms. B.B., the white one, could care less about all the booming and percussion. Yin, the black and white dog, gets clingy, needy and anxiously paces. Then there's Maaco. He's always in a class by himself. A Shar-Pei and Lab cross breed, he has anxiety issues in general and separation anxiety in specific. When the thunder and lightning start throwing tantrums, he begins panting and trembling. His eyes get large, round and glassy. He drools uncontrollably and the corners of his mouth pull back with stress. He won't eat. He can't eat. Which says a lot because this dog lives for food. He turns into a black, fuzzy mass of quivering jello.



On Friday night, the storm, directly over our house, streams fire bolts down from the heavens. Thunder cracks our world. Maaco heads for cover, running under the computer desk for safety. With legs and paws entangled in cords and wires, he continues his headlong assault into the deepest angle of the corner. Pushing to go beyond the wall. Scratching to go through the floor. With a huge show of strength, we drag him, clawing, out from under the desk barely keeping the computer tower and connections intact. Once we had him out, we leashed him and kept him close. If he were outside, he would rip boards off the fence, run blindly for miles, and we might see him in a couple of days, if ever. It has happened before.



He's still frantic. We take him to his safe place in our bedroom, a small space between the wall and the bed. The thunder fires off a barrage of detonations. Panicked, he tries to burrow under a night stand that is only two inches off the ground. Knocking the nightstand over, he breaks the lamp and pulls the phone down on to the floor. It is not a fun night. None of us get much sleep until the storm abates early in the morning. If we had known the storm was going to be this bad, we would have given him tranquilizers. My sympathetic vet has deemed him fit for his own prescription. And, although I don't like the idea of drugging two-leggeds or four-leggeds, there is a time and place for everything. I wonder, what is the DSM code, from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, for Crazy Freakin' Dog?


He truly believes he is in mortal danger. That death is imminent. I can't tell him he is wrong as I know, for a fact, that lighting can and will kill. I have read it and seen it. But how do dogs know this? Why are some dogs terrified and others unaffected? Are the dogs that have intense fear descendants of a lineage that existed in a region where thunder and lighting occurred regularly? Were so many of their far removed, ancient, Wolverine ancestors killed that their DNA was coded with this knowledge? Does the sound of thunder and flash of light signal their primitive, limbic brain to send the message of flight for life? Do the unaffected canines come from regions without such danger? Or is just a personality disorder? I guess it could be, but the fear seems so deeply ingrained that maybe there is a real and practical purpose for its existence.


Thor, God of Thunder


Photo: Marvel Comics


I don't have any answers. All I know is that I am hoping that Thor, God of Thunder, has tired of riding the heavens in his chariot and smashing the heads of giants with his mighty, lighting producing hammer, Mjollnir. In the words of Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets, "Sell crazy someplace else, we're all stocked up here."


Blank

17 comments:

Mrsupole said...

Hi Ronda,

This is when you wish you had a talking dog or you could be a mind reader. I feel for your dog and I feel sorry for you during this time. I would tend to think that your dog comes from somewhere that lightening and thunder were not a common occurance. If it was common then he would think it was normal. Or he just has a great fear of them. Either way it is tough on him and you all.

I am glad that you are getting rain. We still have not had any. It has just been overcast, but no rain. We need rain. I also hope that the rain you are getting is helping to fill some of the lakes up for you all so that the tourists will come to visit the area.

Well I am off to do another rain dance, so Thor can just laugh at me again.

God bless.

Candie Bracci said...

hihi,"As good as it gets" one of my favorite!Just picturing,Jack Nicholson is just the best!

I had a dog who was scared of thunders too.Poor little dog.I don't know how are storms in your place.Hope he's going to be fine.This too shall pass I guess.

subtorp77 said...

We had a big blow-over last night. If Hunter were still round he would've been hiding behind the couch! I know animals can sense things far in advance of us humans, but I wouldn't know where to start with animal psychology....

Brian Miller said...

is that a wolverine and thor allusion all in one post. sorry, my comic radar was tingling...totally distracted. you never know what your dog may be associating the thunder with. it could be the sound, it could be the vibrations...maybe a large sound associated with something that happened in his past.

my prescription...love and a few hugs.

smiles.

otin said...

The summer brings quite a few afternoon severe storms here also, My dogs don't like thunder either! (I love "As Good as it Gets"! and thank you for the All Stars link!!!!)

Ronda Laveen said...

Sherry: Very true, it could be that his lineage came from an area devoid of thunder and lightning. I am sending Thor your way. I'm surprised you've not had any rain with all that we've had.

Candie: I love Jack too!

Subby: I don't think many of us do know where to start with animal psychology. That is why Cesar Milan amazes me so much. I think he is part canine.

Brian: Ahh, I see your comic radar is right on track. Of course, it is a Wolverine and Thor allusion in one post. I didn't think anyone else would notice. My, my, you are a fanboy aren't you.

Otin: With this dog, I live "As Good as it Gets."
I vote for your friend every day.

Ronda Laveen said...

Brian: I forgot to mention one other cartoon allusion in this post. I used three. Do you see it? It is in the title. I totally ripped of Thunder Cats but tweaked it a little. Remember the Saturday morning call of Thunder Cats, Ho!?

VE said...

Well...death is always eminent for all of us...guess he's just getting in some early rehearsal time...

Ronda Laveen said...

Oh, VE, he's rehearsing his a** off! We've had a couple of days respite but kind of cloudy today.

Baino said...

We had three dogs at one time. Two didn't give a shit about thunder until one had a caniption fit they all 'caught' the fear. We now have two and both wedge themselves in dark places during storms. If he's really, really nervous, you can buy desensitisation tapes or resort to a tranquiliser. Yeh, we're all stocked up on crazy here too!

Brian Miller said...

ok, in the title...it's a reference to Thundercats?

Ronda Laveen said...

Baino: It is interesting how dogs can infect each other with behaviors without a word. I've seen the desensitization tapes and wondered if they work. I guess that even if it is "crazy," it's nice to know you have plenty of a thing.

Brian: You got it, bud. The title is a reference to Thundercats!

Megan said...

I'm not a good dog owner. I tried, I failed, I found him a better home. Maybe someday I will have the time and space and energy to try again.

Ronda Laveen said...

Megan: If you ever have the time and space, a relationship with a dog can be very rewarding. And there are people out there who can help you.

Reya Mellicker said...

Oh, poor Maaco! Sounds like Shadow's reaction to the storms. We actually sedate her - something the vet prescribed, and though she's out of it for the rest of the evening, at least she isn't on the edge of losing it. There's a place for tranqs, i believe in Shadow's case it's a humane use.

Hope either the storms pass or Maaco finds peace in some other way. My heart goes out to him - and you. Poor baby.

Jill said...

Oh, that poor, poor dog...so wish he could listen to you and KNOW he is a SAFE boy!

Ronda Laveen said...

Reya: Yes, I was thinking of Shadow during our storms. Sometimes sedation is the best medicine when they are that scared. And a good nights rest never hurt anyone. Today, it seems the storms have passed. Hope their not coming your way. They were nasty. Now were heading toward the 100's again.

Jill: I have wished that he could understand us on many occasions. It would make all our lives so much easier.