Thank goodness it’s over.

Last night was the first night I dared leave Frankie’s crate in the living room where it belongs instead of in my bedroom. He only slept in it once all last week, preferring instead to wedge himself under the bed between unused framed art and boxes of old yearbooks. If he were playing hide-and-go-seek, he’d have lost. His hind legs and tail poked out from under the bed frame. I’m sure he thought he’d made himself as small and invisible as possible. I let him take whatever comfort he could. He’d been traumatized.

Frankie’s a little unorthodox in his other flight-taking routines, though. Instead of getting under something, he prefers to go up. Much like a cat. My mother left him alone inside on the Fourth while she lit sparklers in the driveway. When she went inside to check on him he was on top of the fish tank, scanning the walls to go higher.

Dog owners know this is their companion’s least favorite holiday, New Year’s Eve taking a distant second. My neighbors and I nodded to each other as we walked our dogs in the mornings after and exchanged comments like, “I see you two survived,” along with advice about doggy valium and something called the “thundershirt” which guarantees to reduce anxiety by creating gentle pressure. I abandoned evening walks altogether as the booming began in my neighborhood right after lunch. My mother insists this is ridiculous since you can’t even see fireworks when it’s bright out, but I guess that’s not the point. The noise is.

So, although it’s too late to help out this year, I’ve learned some important pointers for next year (and New Year’s.)

  • Resist the urge to take your pet to any fireworks displays.
  • Keep your pet indoors at home in a sheltered, quiet area. Some animals can become destructive when frightened, so remove any items that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to keep him company while you’re out celebrating.
  • Don’t coddle or reassure your pet. The dog sees your reassurance as confirmation that there’s something to be afraid of. Talk to your dog calmly during these times and try to engage the pet in distracting activities such as playing with a ball or performing obedience commands.
  • Try accupressure points. The points that can be gently massaged to promote relaxation are the neck from behind the ears and down, the tips of the ears and the front of the paws just below the wrist joint.
  • Explore natural remedies. A bit of peppermint oil on a dog’s paw pads has a calming effect. A few drops of Bach’s Rescue Remedy, a flower essence, in the dog’s water bowl will also help calm your pet during times of stress. (We tried rubbing Rescue Remedy on the tips of Frankie’s ears and he fell asleep!)
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