The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. I love fireworks and I love spending a long weekend going to different displays around the area. I also know that fireworks are not for everyone, the loud noises and bright lights can be too much for many, including our pets. I have worked with dogs for 13 years and I have been a dog owner for nearly 30 years. I currently have two eleven-year-old dogs, Luna and Samantha that I consider my fur-babies. I have been their “mother” for nearly their entire lives. So I was pretty confident when last year the 4th of July came around yet again that I knew how to keep my dogs safe for another loud and eventful weekend of celebration. I found out very quickly I was wrong.
My girls have an electric fence and they do not cross their boundary. They spend nice days outside while my husband and I are at home. Last year was like any other day, my dogs were enjoying a relaxing afternoon lounging around outside. In fact we were outside with them for most of the day as well. The evening hour rolled around and the loud “pops” and deep “booms” started off in the distance. My husband and I didn’t think anything of it. As the sun began to set even more, the noise increased, and we decided to go in for the night. My dogs normally run to the door when they are ready to go inside, on this night only my dog Samantha was at the door. I let her inside, she was clearly anxious over the fireworks in the distance. I began calling for my other dog Luna. My husband and I called and called and searched around the outside of our house and eventually inside our house incase we had let her in without realizing. She was nowhere. Suddenly gone. My heart fell into my stomach as I came to the realization that my little girl had run away.
Was this real? How could this be? How could my ten-year-old dog that I knew SO well that had NEVER tried to run past her fence line suddenly be gone. We were outside with her the entire time! How could this be? The sun had set and the noise of fireworks around my house was so incredibly loud at this point we couldn’t even hear ourselves calling out “LUNA” as we frantically searched down our road, into the corn field behind our house, into the woods in the dark. The fireworks were simply too much. Too much for her and for us.
Fortunately my story has a happy and very LUCKY end to it. Once the loud “pops” and “booms” stopped for the night, my husband went back out determined to find Luna. We were not ready to lose her. The thought of her alone, lost, and scared in the dark is still today too much for me to handle. Around 3am my husband found her a few miles away from our home, shook with fear, covered in mud and burrs, but alive and safe.
I learned that night that even when you think your dog is safe around the 4th of July, it doesn’t mean he/she is. It is our responsibility as pet owners to keep our pets safe and secure during times of distress. More dogs go missing on the 4th of July than any other day of the year, and many if not most don’t have a happy ending like mine.
If you know or suspect your dog is frightened of fireworks or other loud noises. Here are 7 Tips for Calming Your Dog During Fireworks.
Please share these tips with other pet parents and have a safe 4th of July!