Friday, April 4, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go AWAY

the 1937 flood

And leave my poor sweet Very Old Dog alone.

Giacomino didn't start minding thunder and lightning until he was twelve or so. Never gave it a whisker's notice. Now, he breaks my heart. For nearly fourteen years he has been brave, silly, noble, adoring, and treasured. He feared nothing.

On a good day you can hear his heart with your bare ear, thunkin' away with its leaky valve. He doesn't have a murmur, he has a shout out. I asked about a chest xray to see how enlarged his sweet heart actually is at his last visit, and Doc said, "Well whatcha want to do that for? He feel all right? Is he eating and happy and doin' good? He looks fantastic! Whatcha want to do that for?" I love my vet.

It started thundering at 7:30 yesterday morning. I was at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. (Only to support a good friend would I go to a 7:30 AM meeting.) I heard that thunder and my heart squeezed for my Very Old Dog. Bill was right there with him in the kitchen, having his coffee and saying, "It's OK, Giacomino." We could hear the rain on the roof of the Convention Center, and boom, boom, boom.

It stormed all day. The thunder came and went. But the rain kept on coming at us like crazy wild contestants hurrying down the isles on the Price is Right. Giacomino is never more than three feet away from me, hasn't been in his whole life. Not in a neurotic, separation anxiety sort of way, but in an "it's all right, I'll keep you great good company" kind of way. Yesterday he stayed closer than normal, and when the thunder would wake him, he'd raise worried eyes to my face. And he'd stand - not an easy, take it for granted task these days. And he'd pant.

I rub the bells of his ears to lessen the sound of the thunder. Sometimes that is all it takes to make it better for him. But I couldn't mask the terrific crashes of yesterday's storm.

The lightning eased up around dinner time. This was a kindness, because we were invited to our neighbors' for supper. The food was savory and the conversation just delightful, and as we were saying our thank you, the sky exploded. Even Bill said, "We've got to get back to poor Giacomino." It was only a two block drive, and we hurried.

He was beside himself. I tried going to bed as if it were a normal night, and gods weren't blowing each other up right over our heads. By midnight I took him downstairs. It's not quite as bad for him downstairs. This old house has huge windows, so there was no hiding from the lightning. There was no distracting him from earth shaking blasts coming relentlessly. The sump pump harmonized with the wind. I lay on my back on the couch, with Giacomino lying on my chest. No part of him touched the couch. But his heart was beating so hard that the couch reverberated. The cushions shook.

I talked to him, I sang to him, I read to him. I stroked his forehead and rubbed his ears. The newspaper got delivered at 2:30 AM. At first I thought it was a drunk driver, weaving from side to side up the street. Then I heard the thunk of the paper hitting the porch. Giacomino went out and peed in the rain.

At 4:45 AM the wind died down and the rain simply fell out of the sky instead of shooting itself at us. And the thunder stopped. Oh finally that damned thunder stopped. I carried my exhausted old dog up to our bed, managing not to wake Bill. Swede William, who hadn't exercised that particular precaution, and had joined Very Old Dog and me shortly after we went downstairs, went back in his crate and flopped down. We slept until 8:30.

It rained all day today, too, but there was no thunder. I don't know how my brave dog's heart didn't disintegrate right along with his last nerve and mine last night. We had a blissfully quiet day, and he is sound asleep in our bed as I type this on my laptop.

Please, weather gods, leave this dear old dog alone.

Hug your brave hounds


  1. ah, what a lovely post. i felt every thunder crash, every rain drop.

    riley gets terrified of thunder, too. and firecrackers. he's not old and will, like giacomino, but young and terrified.

    for your amusement, here are a couple of short links to riley's trevails:

    fear of firecrackers


    two things that have been recommended to me to help: melatonin pills (you have to give them some time before the storm hits), and rescue remedy.

    i have found them only marginally helpful.

    but sometimes even a little help makes a difference.

  2. Poor very old dog. We are glad he has you to spend time with.

  3. Ahh, poor Very Old Dog. I hope it stops storming, soon.

    I am lucky that none of my hounds has a storm phobia. We had a tornado in the area a couple of weeks ago....calm as cucumbers (I, however, was not so calm).

    I hope it doesn't flood in your area. I love that picture of the old house, cool. (Not the water around it....the house!).

  4. He is very lucky that you are able to take such good care of him.

  5. We were concerned for you in Paducah when we read this morning that Memphis had 2 inches of rain yesterday, and we remembered your pictures of the park with the rising water. But we had no idea the thunder was so bad, or that Very Old Dog was so apprehensive during bad storms. We hope that all of you get some rest today.

    gussie and muzzer

  6. Oh, the poor little chap. Prince used to be petrified of thunder and you feel so powerless to 'make it better'. I hope all's well with you and the waggle.........

  7. Poor Giacomino! I feel for you so much, buddy! I'm terrified of the thunder boomers too! Thank goodness our moms care!

    Love ya lots,

  8. This will sound trite, but it is heartfelt.....
    Been there, done that, feel your pain....

    Jenn & Carson (14 years young this year. Thunder is not his friend).

  9. Poor Giacomo! I just can imagine how terrified he was! Glad you were there to calm him down!
    Kisses and hugs

  10. I feel every ounce of his pain, I hate hate hate hate storms. We are sending lots of AZ sunshine and dryness!

  11. poor guy, my heart melted for him when I read this post. Our old dog Zack - is terrified of thunder also, fortunately we rarely get it in California.

  12. Oh poor Very Old Dog...I just want to give him a hug. Abby used to be terrified of thunder and she would literally wear herself out with fear, panting and pacing. She would sleep for hours after a storm

    Rain rain go away and come again another day. And stop bugging Very Old Dog!!!

  13. Poor,poor VOD! My 1st saluki paid thunder no heed,but her daughter was TERRIFIED- from whence her fear came is unknown-and the mutt Shania, was a-ok with storms until #1 saluki died. Not as bad as Beans,though.You do what you can-and PRAY for sun again-Martha and P-Doggy

  14. Oh, poor Giacomino -- luckily we're not affected by storms, but those firecrackers at Fourth of July make me mad! I just want to go outside and fight them!
    Sometimes, however, if it gets TOO noisy outside during thunderstorms I want to be very close to Mom JUST in case she gets scared.... I have to protect her!


  15. What you wouldn't do, huh?
    Glad to hear the weather gods took pity on you.

  16. Poor Giacomino,

    Me so sorry you get scared of the mean old stormy. Me not dcared Much. Me just stay under the covers cuase me know the Mommy won't let anything happen to me.

    Be brave very old dog...LOVE Mona

  17. My dog of many years was also scared of rain - well, not so much the rain but the thunder that accompanied it. He once came through the screen door to get back inside. I know your G. is happy you are there. NLM

  18. I am afraid of thunder storm too. I will hide under daddy and mummy's bed or I will just stay very close to my jie jie in the room and stay very still and try to sleep through it.


  19. Pals,

    We thought of you last night. Mom and Dogdad had gone to a concert (Mom's 96-year old Dad plays violin in a community Pops orchestra) and on the way home they encountered very serious rain, with thunder and lightning. Knowing how upset JH gets at loud noises, she was upset all the way home. And we were of course upset throughout the storm. Although I, being less sensitive to storms tried to comfort my brother.

    As soon as we heard the folks' car pull into the driveway, we left our look-out posts on the stairs and rushed down to meet them. (Usually we just wait calmly on the stairs, or JH will stick a paw through the railing when Mom comes inside.) This time, we were actually in such a pile of dogs at the door that Monm could barely open it. I remember jumping over JH and he went under me - and then we both jumped on Mom, who came in first. She sat down in the closest chair and JH jumped in her lap in a flash. I had to wait until Dogdad came in, and then he scooped me up and we all sat there for a good while unil the excitement calmed down.

    So yes, we understand Very Old Dog';s beating heart and how much a loving human can do to calm things down.

    Jake and Just Harry

  20. I have been known to sleep on the floor in our walk-in closet with mine from time to time - no windows, and I guess all the clothes muffles the noise a bit.

  21. woofies and burf's. we nos watt old dog iz going through.. angel rusty and angel lacylulu use to b sooo skeered when the thunder and lightning came...i have a old medal desk and thats where lacy would hide till it was over...we tried to take them where there were no windows but thats near impossible...i guess they took after their mama, i am skeered to death of a bad storm...its not raining today, but still under dense cloud cover, and i thot it was pose to b nice and sunny today...heehee never trust the weatherman..

    b safe,
    rocky, bear and angel lacylulu ;)


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