Things that Go Bang in the Night

We had fireworks just the other night. No one I’ve spoken with seems to know exactly who set them off down by the river. There weren’t very many of them, but there were enough to drive our dog into her customary panic.

As usual, she heard them before we did; my wife realized there was something happening when our black and white bundle of quivering canine burrowed under her desk and wrapped itself around her ankles.

Shadow (because she is mostly black, and can usually be found attached to her mistress) was not afraid of fireworks when she was a puppy. During her first year she was interested in the noise and wanted to go outside and bark at whoever was making it. That changed sometime during her second year, and she now reacts in terror to anything resembling a fireworks display.

I’m told this is common with dogs. A former priest and his wife had two large dogs. The sound petrified them, and one of them backed itself into a corner so hard that he fractured his tail trying to hide. After that, whenever they knew there would be a display, they tranquilized both dogs.

Fireworks are problematic in Dawson. The display the other night was about the earliest in August that Dawsonites could make use of them. In most of Canada they are a summer-time thing, but in the long Northern summers they make no sense.

During the Canadian 125th anniversary celebrations the federal government was keen on supplying fireworks for use with Canada Day events. Our town council decided to save them to use with our Thaw di Gras spring carnival; there was an exchange of nasty correspondence with Ottawa over that decision. Back east they couldn’t seem to grasp the whole midnight-sun-in-July concept. I expect we’ll have the same issue for Canada 150 in 2017.

Using fireworks in the winter and spring presents its own problems, mostly because it’s too cold for standing around comfortably outside. We’re lucky enough to see quite a bit from our front porch on Seventh Avenue.

Shadow doesn’t actually seem to see the things. She’s too busy reacting to the sounds, which for her probably begin with low-level launch noises that we don’t hear, and continue on up through higher-pitched noises, to the actual explosions.

She keeps busy running back and forth. She wants to go outside to get some space, and then wants to come back in to get away from the sound. She hides behind the chair of the human who happens to be home at the time.

Exploding fireworks are one of the very few things that will cause her to go upstairs and seek us out in our bedroom, if that’s where we are. Mostly she knows she’s not allowed up there, but the noise of fireworks overcomes her training.

Her final step is to curl up in her travelling kennel in the kitchen, which is where she sleeps at night. It seems to function as her secure cave. It’s good that she has a place where she feels safe.

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