By Paula Hendrickson
I don’t recall if my childhood dog, Sarg, actually didn’t mind Fourth of July Fireworks, or if we were having so much fun we didn’t notice how he reacted to the screeches and booms of fireworks. I recall Sarg hiding under my bed a few times, but he wasn’t the type of dog you’d really want to bother if he was scared or angry. He was small, cute, and anything but cuddly.
Our next dog, big old Bear, was three times Sarg’s size and quaked at the sound of garbage trucks. He was beside himself during storms or fireworks. One year he curled up on the sofa with me and he couldn’t stop trembling. He was so big he pretty much had me pinned to the back of the sofa. When I tried to get up he’d whimper or whine and get super clingy. We spent the better part of the afternoon huddled on the sofa, Bear flinching at every pop or boom he heard. But it was the high-pitched screech of the skyrockets that upset him most of all.
Bear was so freaked out by the Fourth of July we tried not to leave him home alone very long. Dad did an annual breakfast in the park, so Bear had to endure being on his own for a couple hours in the morning, but the bigger blasts usually didn’t really get going until the afternoon.
My current dog, Lily, is also spooked by loud booms – even now that her hearing isn’t so great she can still feel the percussive force of the city’s downtown fireworks. She’s already a bit high strung, so I try not to leave her alone on the Fourth, either. I keep the windows closed, run the window air conditioner if it’s warm enough out, have the ceiling fan whirling away and leave the TV on.
Guess what show she doesn’t seem to mind? WTVO’s annual simulcast of the Rockford’s official fireworks show. Strange, huh? That’s my dog. Gotta love her.
I figured it out a couple years ago after a group of neighboring trees grew tall enough to obscure our view of all but the highest of Rockford’s official fireworks.
Maybe Lily connects the vibrations of the booms with the images on the TV, but she doesn’t try to hide or cower anymore. She usually grabs a chew toy, stretches out under the ceiling fan and gnaws her anxieties away while facing the TV.
Even the toughest dog can be a big fraidycat on the Fourth of July. If you don’t want to leave them alone, but don’t want to miss the fireworks, why not give WTVO’s A Celebration of Freedom a try this year?
If your dog still freaks out from the sound, you can always mute the TV and play some soothing music.
A Celebration of Freedom airs live, July 4 starting at 8:00 p.m. on WTVO.