Ways to love, train, educate, share information, and revel in being a Pitbull Parent.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

July: The Month of Terror

For those of us that live with my pittie, Concobar, July is a distressing month. For those of you who are wondering why, two words sum up the answer; thunder and fireworks. 

Ever since Con was a pup, thunderstorms have scared her. She shakes, sometimes uncontrollably, whines, follows me everywhere, getting underfoot and making me trip, and finally squeezes herself into a half sitting, half laying position in between my feet. 

As I'm sure you can imagine, or have experienced yourself, that situation is bad enough. Then along came the month of July, and with it, the festivity of fireworks. 

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy fireworks as much as the next American. Or I did. Now, I spend the entire month of July running on two or three hours of sleep per day, with a pit bull perpetually glued to my feet. It makes for interesting dinner conversation. Especially if we try and eat out. 

But really, this is a huge problem. And sadly, one I don't know how to solve. 

The first dog expert I asked, a man named Frank who owns and operates Rock's Positive K-9 Training in my town, told me I was the problem. That my coddling of Con made her too vulnerable to outside stimuli, and I was turning her into a scardy-pit. Since Frank is an expert dog trainer who's dealt with thousands of dogs, and because I couldn't have that, I took his advice and began to ignore Con whenever she displayed signs of fear. No petting, cooing, or reassurances whatsoever. This seemed to work fairly well, so I enrolled my entire family in the "No Comfort" plan, and soon Con became more accustomed to thunderstorms.  

All was well in McCormack land for a time. Then I made a fatal mistake. I took Con for a walk. 

The fatal walk began as an ordinary stroll around the neighborhood. Con was trotting happily along on her Weiss Walkie, I had my plastic poop baggie and a pair of headphones. I certainly wasn't expecting the neighborhood children to begin throwing firecrackers into the street directly in front of us. As I'm sure you can imagine, neither was Con.

I'll admit, I don't remember every detail of that horrible walk. I remember the incredibly loud popping of the fireworks, and Con's instant and terrified reaction to that popping. She turned and bolted for home. Now, when I say bolted, I mean she almost ripped my arm out of it's socket. I don't believe that's an exaggeration. It felt like my arm was being ripped off. Somehow I managed to hang onto the Walkie, though my wrist was red and swollen for a couple of days afterwards. 

That innocent walk set the tone for Con's reaction to fireworks to this day. Sadly, the progress we had made during thunderstorms was lost, as well. I still abstain from comforting Concobar during thunderstorms or fireworks, although sometimes it's pretty hard to maintain that tough position. But I know it's for her own good, so I stay strong. 

In my neighborhood, fireworks begin the first week of July and continue pretty much through the whole month. I've come to dread July even though it's full of family birthdays, including my own and my twin daughters' (which is on the same day!). 

So, dear readers, I'm turning the tables with this post and asking all of you for some advice. I'm open to any and all suggestions with the exception of the thunder shirt. We've tried that with very poor results. I'm hoping with all of your combined experiences and insights I can begin to give Con a little peace when thunder strikes and July comes around. Her human friends could use a little of that peace, as well! 

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