Thunderstorms and Fireworks. Oh My!

Thunder is scarey

As I sit reading I feel a cold wet nose come up and push my hand in an urgent way.  I need you, it says.  I reach down to pet Louie G and she is shaking.  This can only mean one thing, thunderstorm.

Louie G wasn’t always afraid of thunder and fireworks.  It started for her around 4 years.  Most dogs will start to display noise phobias between the ages of 1-5.  Cats can also have noise phobia but typically not as often or as severe.  With thunderstorms there can be more involved than just the noise; change in barometric pressure, static electricity can also upset some pets.

Here is a list of some common signs of noise phobia:

  • cat under the bedHiding (most common sign in cats)
  • Urinating
  • Defecating
  • Chewing
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Trying to escape (digging, jumping through windows or going through walls, running away)
  • Drooling
  • Seeking the owner
  • Expressing anal glands
  • Seeking constant company of the owner
  • Not listening to commands
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vocalizing (barking or meowing)

Living in Florida with the daily summer thunderstorms and the upcoming 4th of July Holiday can make this a scary time of year for our pets.  Noise phobias will not go away and can become worse over time but there are some things that we can do to help.  The first and simplest thing is to be sure that your dog has had plenty of exercise, a tired dog can be a bonus.

ThunderShirts have helped some dogs.  The thing with the shirt is that you need to put it on your dog at times when no storms are coming so they don’t associate the shirt with the storm.  You could also use a snug fitting t-shirt.

Canine Audio Therapy  is a system where you play cd’s of thunderstorms or fireworks for your dog to desensitize them to the sounds, this can also be time consuming.   I had a client that did this with her rat terrier, Foxy,  and it worked great for them.  You could also try playing soothing music for your pet to distract them like the Positively, Victoria Stillwell series.  When we are pet sitting over firework holidays we will typically leave on the TV or music to help override or knock down the outside noise.

Herbal or flower remedies like Rescue Remedy have been very popular.   You can even use this yourself if you are afraid of the thunder.  Dogs Naturally has a list of  herbal remedies and how to dispense them.  Of course, if your pet has a really bad experience with thunder or fireworks you can talk to your vet so they could prescribe something stronger.

Dogs will instinctively look for a “den” type safe place when they are frightened, under a bed, in closet, bathtub.  Louie G always liked a crate with a blanket over it or to just lay next to me and let me snuggle her.  During a thunderstorm you could try to rub a dog down with a dryer sheet to stop the static electricity.  You just need to find the thing that will give your pet the most comfort.

Louie G
Louie G

Be sure that you dog has on their tags but beware, collars and tags can come off, so a micro chip is highly recommended before the fireworks start.  Have a tag or collar with your dog’s name and your phone number on it, make sure the contact information is current.   There are also GPS collars you can get to track your pet  in real-time.  Whatever you chose to do be sure to keep your pet in the house during fireworks. Be aware that some dogs have been so terrified from the noise that they have jumped through windows.  Closed windows.

If your pet gets out and runs away be sure to check around your home and neighborhood first, they may just be hiding in the bushes or under a house or shed.  Make posters for your neighborhood, post on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor.

Please keep your pets safe this summer and 4th of July

ROAD TRIP 2015: The Dahlonega Cabin

The Dahlonega Cabin belongs to our friends Richie and Bob Whitaker, they are very generous with their invites and we are thankful.  It is the most serene and calming place, sitting on the rocking chairs on the porch looking out over the mountains, watching the birds during the day and the fireflies at night.  Long hikes in the

Dahlonega Cabin
mountains with the dogs, exploring the quaint downtown area of Dahlonega Georgia. It is the place we come to relax and recharge ourselves.  This is the last day of our visit to the cabin, feeling bittersweet as I think this could be our last visit.  The cabin is for sale.

While here we get to spend a lot of time with the dogs, so with no other demands on our attention I think it really gives us a chance to learn a lot about what has changed with

Louie G, Walter, Penny Lane
Louie G, Walter, Penny Lane
them.  Louie G,  Standard Poodle, Walter, All American Wired Brushed Scruffhound and Penny Lane, Wheaten Mix.

Louie G has certainly mellowed in her old age, 11 this year.  2 years ago we had to tether her if we sat out back or she would take off for the road.  Really?  With all the open space right in front of her why did she have to go around the front of the house and up the road?  This year, no problem.  She would run around the house but come right back and she mostly stayed where ever I was.

Walter, well he certainly is showing his age, 12 this year.  The first time we came, 4 years ago and he had just had his first knee replacement.  We used the hikes as his rehab and he wasn’t suppose to use the stairs.  Of course that year he hiked like a crazy man and went up

The Loft that Walter walked and couldn't find his way
The Loft that Walter walked and couldn’t find his way
and down the stairs whenever he felt like it.  This year he would not go up the stairs.  We had to carry him up every time.  UGH, total body workout.  He is also losing his hearing.  This has its own set of issues.  He doesn’t hear you coming and then freaks out because you “snuck” up on him.  When we are walking and he doesn’t hear another dog or person and then freaks because they “snuck” up on him.  He doesn’t realized you moved to another room and freaks because he felt abandoned.

He also seems to have gotten a bit senile.  We sleep in an upstairs bedroom that has a loft area that circles the staircase.  One morning I went IMG_2859

down the stairs, he saw me go, but proceeded to walk around the loft like he could not figure out how to get down.  I finally went back up to lead him down, I was afraid in his dismay he would just jump off the edge.  The next incident I was out back by the fence, the dogs were on the porch watching me.  The next thing I know Walter is barking and charging me like I have invaded his home.  Once he got close enough and realized who I was, he stopped.  My old man.

Louie G checking out the bed
Louie G checking out the bed

Living room
Living room
Penny Lane has been a pleasant surprise.  She needs to be with the “pack”.  If one of use leaves to go into a shop or cafe she goes totally crazy, barking and whining,  especially if it’s Rob.  The amazingly wonderful thing about Penny is she has great recall.  Yeah!  She always comes back when called (although, she can take her sweet time about it).  She is becoming more confident and leading the way on our hikes.  She is sweet and inquisitive.  Now we just need to work on her being reactive with other dogs, thanks Walter.

View from upstairs porch
View from upstairs porch
So if you might be interested in buying this amazing place please let us know and we will put you in touch with Richie and Bob.

Road Trip 2015: Hike 3-Vogel State Park

After a day off lounging around the cabin the dogs were ready for their next hiking adventure.  After breakfast the anticipation was in the air;  pacing, barking and a general sense of anticipation.

We headed out to Vogel State Park, Georgia’s oldest park.  It is located at the base of Blood Mountain in Chattahoochee National Forest.  It offers an array of amenities in addition to its beautiful hiking trails. Cottages, campgrounds, primitive backpacking sites along with play grounds, a lake and a miniature golf course. And it’s dog friendly.   IMG_2838IMG_2837

Vogel Park
Vogel Park
Cabin-Vogel Park
Cabin-Vogel Park

The park offers several different hikes from the very easy hike around the lake to the difficult 13 mile trek of Coose Backcountry Trail.  We opted for the 4 mile Bear Hair Gap Loop with its gentle grade and meandering stream.

Once parked Rob went in the visitors center for a map and the dogs were anxious to get on the trail, let’s go, let’s go, pulling on the leashes.   Penny Lane has gotten confident since her first walk 3 days ago where she stayed behind or with us.  Today she wanted to lead the way. Looking for creatures in the brush, playing in the streams when we crossed, jumping over the fallen trees in our path.  Full of energy of a youngster, ready for the next adventure.

hiking dogs
Louie G & Walter, Bear Hair Gap

Louie G, loves the trails but is happy to stay right with me.  Well, maybe the occasional curiosity to look for something in the brush.  Just to be a dog and enjoy the moment.

Walter did great.  He was slow on the uphill but we took it easy and let him rest when needed.    When we stopped on the overlook Rob let Walter off the leash.  He won’t go anywhere, he said.  Hmm, I said.  Sure enough Walter started to follow his nose and of course being hard of hearing when we called to him he didn’t come back.  Fortunately for us he doesn’t move very fast these days.

Our return was all downhill so we made great time coming back.  Penny had to stop at all the stream crossings to play in the water and was a muddy mess when we got back, but hey a girl has to have fun.

Hiking Break Vogel
Vogel Park, Rob, Louie G, Penny Lane

On our way back we stopped for lunch at Turners Crossing Cafe.  Built in 1928 and still the original building.  They were happy to accommodate the dogs and set a table out on the porch and brought them a bowl of water.  The cafe is quaint with good food and friendly service.  Louie G and Walter are veterans at eating out and settled down to take in the sites.  Penny Lane, of course, was not sure of what this was all about.  She got her leash tangled in the chair legs, barked at a few of the people coming and going but once the food was served she became very attentive to us.  Good dog.

Turners Crossing Cafe

ROAD TRIP! Vacationing With Your Dog

We have one special vacation which we are fortunate to be able to take our dogs.  A beautiful cabin in North Georgia, that is owned by friends of ours.  A big piece of property where they have some freedom to romp around without the confines of a leash.  Hiking in the state parks on nice days.  Lounging around on the porch overlooking the Smokey Mountains.  A perfect dog vacation, at least for our dogs.

Louie G and Walter at the cabin
Walter & Louie G at th Cabin

Of course traveling with pets has its challenges and it’s best to plan ahead and be prepared.  Does your pet travel well in a car?  Plane?  Where will you be staying?  Are they pet friendly?  What will you do with your pet while you are out?

Our first issue is motion sickness.  The signs of motion sickness can include:

Continue reading “ROAD TRIP! Vacationing With Your Dog”

If This Was An Actual Emergency……

It’s hurricane season and we hear be prepared, be prepared, be prepared.  But hurricanes aren’t the only emergency situation that we need to be worried about.  I have lived in Florida for since 1992, not that long but longer than many.  I have been through several small hurricanes, lot’s of tropical storms, rainy days where let’s just say an amazing amount of water came out of the sky.  I have seen flooded streets, patio furniture fly off balconies, docks torn away, roofs coming off and trees smashing everything in their path, when the ground got too soggy and the wind too strong.  House fires and gas leaks, the Republican convention?   Yeah, that too.  Emergencies can come in many different forms, if you are prepared for one you are most likely prepared all.  So let’s take our lesson from Katerina and BE PREPARED and never, ever leave your pets behind.

So what do I need to do to get my pets ready for an emergency?  The ASPCA recommends:

Continue reading “If This Was An Actual Emergency……”

Swimming Dog and Summer Fun

Swimming dogs
Quincy in the Pool

Who doesn’t like a dip in the pool on a hot summer day?  Some dogs love the water, some not so much and others are just not very good at swimming.  Come on, you are thinking, all dogs love the water.   Actually,  not all dogs know how to swim.  I learned this when I took a pet first aide/ CPR class with the American Red Cross.  The instructor told us that CPR is mostly used to resuscitate dogs in cases of near drowning.

Goldens and Labs seem to be made for the water.  Show them a puddle and I’ll show you a wet dog.   Collies, with their heavy coat can become waterlogged or Bulldogs with their heavy bodies can sink like bricks. One day a friend of mine called me to tell me she almost drowned her dog Petey.   Petey is her  80 lb Pit Bull mix that they decided to throw in the pool on a hot day.  Petey sank to the bottom of the pool like a ton of bricks.  Luckily, they were able to get him out of the pool.  So think first before tossing your dog in the pool to cool off.  And besides if your doesn’t like a bath they probably are not going to like the pool. Continue reading “Swimming Dog and Summer Fun”

Dog Tales: Stories from our Rescue Dogs

I decided to share some stories of our dogs, all rescues.  It started with Spike in 1999 and our newest is Penny Lane.  I was originally going to try and get this down by writing about each dog, one at a time.   Now I have decided that I have too much to say about everyone and that it would make more sense to just share stories at my whim.  So here we start with Louie G and Walter, numbers 2 and 3.  I hope you get of sense of each of each of these amazing animals, where they came from, their travels through life, to emerge in a place that is loving and safe.  Forever.

Our Gang
Louie G, Walter, Myself

Continue reading “Dog Tales: Stories from our Rescue Dogs”