The 4th of July: Murphy’s Most Dreaded Day of the Year

Don’t let this picture fool you. Murph may be sporting a patriotic bandana, but the 4th of July is not his most favorite day of the year. For some pets the annual trip to the vet is the most dreaded day of the year. Not for poor Murph. Vets are a piece of cake compared to the whistles, bangs, and pops exploding in the sky outside.

Nothing phased our first dog, Budly. Not thunderstorms and definitely not fireworks. (But take his beloved tennis ball away and that’d spark a meltdown.) Murph, however, is very different. He’s more sensitive to loud noises.

I remember our first 4th. It was a few days before Independence Day on our last walk before bedtime. Some kids down the road were shooting off fireworks. Murph turned tail and pulled me home. Once safely back inside, he then wouldn’t leave my side.

Lots of pets are sensitive to the ruckus that will ensue tonight. I remember one fateful 4th riding around town with Wayne in our early dating years after a fireworks show. We saw a dog, clearly panicked, running full speed in the street –against traffic. Wayne avoided him, but the car behind us did not. All I remember is hearing a loud thunk, a yelp, and Wayne looking in the rearview and mumbling both in awe and horror, “He’s still running.”

There was nothing we could do to help reunite that dog with his home. (He was long gone before we could get turned around to try and rescue him.) But here’s some things to keep in mind for tonight:

• If you have pets that are afraid of fireworks, leave them in a secure area. Backyards are not good enough. Desperate animals (which some become when they’re frightened) take desperate measures to get away from whatever’s causing them distress and will dig under or jump fences to do so.

• For pets that are prone to fear, try distracting them, especially if you’ll be out for the night. Leave on some music or the TV. Make their hideaway comforting by leaving a piece of your clothing so they’ll have your scent, or stash their favorite toy for them to snuggle with.

• Just as you wouldn’t let a child handle fireworks, don’t let your pets either. Not that they’d try to light them, but some will try to attack lit fuses. Or, if you light and throw a firework, some dogs might try and chase it, not realizing this game of fetch could have painful and possibly deadly consequences.

• Remember, they don’t understand the fireworks are a celebration. Most animals won’t enjoy watching them with you, so leave them at home instead of taking them to any shows.

• If you’re driving back from a fireworks show, watch for dogs like the one Wayne and I encountered.

Here’s to hoping your 4th of July is a happy and safe event for the whole family. Murph’s looking forward to staying inside, away from the windows, with Animal Planet or some Irish music (he seems to really like this kind best) turned way up.

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