Monday, July 5, 2010

Fat Charlie's Home Safe

So, maybe once or twice you've heard me mention that I love my vets?

First thing this morning I loaded up the whole waggle (minus Delia and Looch who went a'walkin' with Bill) and headed to Ol' Poke n Stick's before breakfast. (Hey, if Fat Charlie couldn't have breakfast, none of us could. That's only fair.) Wait, let me back up a minute.

Last night was awful. Pure personal hell. The fourth of freaking July.

I hate fireworks. Long before I had boom-phobic dogs, I hated fireworks. If you sneak up behind me and say "boo" you better duck and run and protect your private parts. I respond to being startled by hitting. Hard. While I scream. And I kick. Hard. Then I yell at you for being so STUPID. It is completely reflexive and I've been that way all my life. So I hate things that supposedly are going to look all pretty and then out of nowhere go boom.

In the country, you loaded up and went to the church or the fairgrounds and watched the fireworks. My mother learned early on, when she couldn't get me out from under our car, where I lay in a fetal position with my hands over my ears, screaming "Stop it stop it stop it," that it was better if she and I stayed home and popped popcorn and watched TV. They tried to condition me to liking them by buying sparklers and making a big deal of how fun it all was. Bull Shit. You couldn't fool me even at age six. But, in the country, at least home was safe. You could hear the bangs in the distance, but home was safe.

Then as an adult I worked in the Operating Room. Oh yeah, those blown off hands, feet, eyes: whewie, there's some fun. Idiots.

When my first whippet, Gracious, was around eight, my teenage son thought it was a good idea to shoot a squirrel out his bedroom window while she was sleeping on his bed. Thus began her intense terror at sudden loud noises. Caruso (Lindy Loo's great grandfather) and Giacomino (Very Old Dog) both developed old age thunder phobia. They would lie in some corner and tremble violently, panting with the curled-up panic tongue, eyes popping and nothing nothing nothing could I do for them. We all suffered through the week of the freaking fourth.

This year would be the first year since we moved here to the city that I didn't have a boom phobic dog. What a relief. It's just so different in this southern city. Cherry bombs, bottle rockets, things that make that ZZZZZzingBAMBOOOOM going off all over. The city sponsors a fireworks show over the river - only eight blocks away and bad enough though it lasts only an hour and a half and is done by people who supposedly know what they are doing. But everyone goes to Missouri and buys their own fireworks and sets them off all over. I hate it. But at least this year I wouldn't have an old dog trying to die of a heart attack.

Or so I thought. My neighbors had apparently bought out the entire state of Missouri. (Sorry Missouri, I guess you guys did without, lucky dogs.) Early on, way before the city's show started, HUGE explosions started going off in the empty lot right across from our house. And then over our house. All the dogs started looking alarmed. Then one firework went haywire (imagine that) and did the falling bomb sizzle noise as it shot horizontally past our TV room window and then exploded. I hit the floor and the dogs went ballistic.

We were clearly being attacked.

This went on and on and on. The city's display started; we could barely hear it over the amateur crap right outside our door. And over our roof. And in our yard.

I was already worried about Fat Charlie's surgery today. Anytime you anesthetize a thirteen year old dog, well... I said, "Let's just go to bed." I tried to let the dogs out to potty, but they were WAY too freaked out. Our world was exploding. We went up to our room. I couldn't find Mama Pajama and Fat Charlie. Found Mama Pajama in Bill's study, eyes huge and worried. I got everyone in our bedroom and handed out treats. No Fat Charlie. The calm dog, the unflappable. The one who was going to protect me - tooth and nail - with all he had when an old drunk guy thought my house was where he needed to be one night when Bill was out of town. My bravest fastest Whippet who had to have surgery in the morning. My oldest dog. Thirteen.

I found him in a dark crate downstairs in the dog room. Panting. Trembling violently. Eyes wide with terror. He didn't know how to protect us from this. I got angry.

My other sweet neighbor called. Her thunderphobic dog, Cooper - a lab/border collie cross - was wild with fear. "I'm afraid he can't keep this up much longer," she said. Should we call the police? It's our neighbors, our friends. But this is ridiculous. Those can't be legal.

This is just what my old dog's heart needed nine hours before anesthesia. It was getting louder over my house and he was getting more frantic. I asked Bill to read in our bedroom to keep the other dogs company and I took Fat Charlie and Sam I Am (for company) down to the van. We were getting out of there. As we ran from our breezeway to the van one exploded right over our heads and the burning things landed all around us. I screamed, "Stop it stop it stop it," just like my six year old self. It didn't stop. As soon as we left my immediate neighborhood Fat Charlie settled down and went to sleep. I called my sweet neighbor with Cooper to tell her what a good idea the van was. She answered her cell by saying, "We had to get Cooper out of there, so we're in our car out by the Mall." They had left before I did.

I tried coming home twice, but the neighbors were still at it. As long as I kept driving and Charlie couldn't hear the idiocy, he slept. We came home around eleven; the show across the street was over. But it had moved to the back yard. Fat Charlie didn't mind the firecrackers too much and he was worn out. He finally went to sleep. I did too. Around 1:30.

Okay, now I'm back to loving my vets. They let Fat Charlie wait in his own crate - his safe place - in my van while the pre-op shot went to work. They let me stay with him, with my quiet calm voice until the Propafol was injected and he no longer knew or cared what was going on. I took the rest of the waggle out to the kennel club to burn off their energy. My vets called me: Fat Charlie's surgery was over and I could pick him up in an hour.

He was FINE.

Now we're all lying in the kitchen/dining room. Fat Charlie's rear legs aren't working too well yet, but they will. He stopped panting when we got home. It's normal quiet here. Mama Pajama is sleeping a couple of feet away from her brother on Bill's armchair. Sammy is curled up by my head and Swede William is lying on my right leg. My foot's asleep.

As awful as last night was for me and for Fat Charlie, I kept thinking of a nurse I know. Her husband served in Iraq. He suffered from injuries from a roadside bomb. And now from PTSD. What the hell was last night like for him? When explosions brought back memories of friends' being blown to bits and his own stunning injuries. I kept thinking of him.

I HATE fireworks. I HATE fireworks. I HATE FIREWORKS. Hooray for the FIFTH of July. I hope all of you and your dogs are okay.

hug your hounds


  1. Oh, Patience, I am with you. Hooray for the fifth of July!

    A whiplash injury left me with vertigo from certain sounds almost 20 years ago. That opened me up to a whole new world of hyperacusis and the many people living in that world. Add PTSD and I remember my first year after the accident when I had to drive through the fireworks area on the night of the 4th. You have been through an evening that no one and no hound should have to endure. Jumping in the car was an excellent idea!

    My refugee neighbors from Bosnia and Laos agree with you.... though for the first time, my Bosnian neighbors had their little grandson outdoors with some mild, legal fireworks, laughing and smiling for the first time.

    So glad that your archangel is fine and still serving his duty here with you. Hugs to him, you, unshakable Bill and the Waggle.

    Kathy and Flynn

  2. Hi!
    Rudy's mom here -- I hear you on the PTSD stuff --- my across-the-street-neighbor has it from being attacked while attending VA Tech 3 years ago (survived with gunshot wounds in that massacre) and her mom was telling me the 1st July 4th after that, she spent the night in a closet. Now she just leaves town...
    I really think this amateur pyromania should be confined to a public park somewhere, rather than neighborhoods...
    Rudy's Mom

  3. Unfortunately for us, your neighbors didn't buy all the fireworks in Missouri. Our neighbors got a few. The PWDs are pretty good about noise. They run around and bark at the booms, but Morgan is terrified. She shakes and tries to hide. Last night she sat on Rob's lap all evening, then she and Tsar refused to go outside at all and just held it all night.

    I wish they would make fireworks illegal and enforce it for all but the public displays. Even at that we watched the firemen set the roof of the highschool on fire one year at the public display.

  4. So glad Fat Charlie is fine! We were horrid servants this weekend. We went to Arkansas and left them here with the neighbor. Apparently, it turned out to be a good thing because our easily freaked out dog was pretty calm with her dogs around.

    I only wish our noise ended with the 4th. The noise will go on for at least another week. We live in Missouri in a county that sells them. It's supposed to be illegal to shoot them off in our county, but we can sell them!

  5. What a horrible experience for you and the dogs. Fireworks are banned from most communities where I've live recently, but that doesn't stop kids from getting them either from the States or from the reserves where they are legal. However, it's usually only a problem at Hallowe'en here - any fireworks during our Canada Day celebrations are most often community affairs. Even at Hallowe'en, it's mostly the little "ladyfinger" firecrackers that the kids set off. But I'm with you - I hate them. Fortunately, my dogs have either been deaf or totally unperturbed by them.

  6. Patience
    I'm so relived that it's over and all your beautiful hounds are OK..especially that Fat Charlie came thorough the surgery and is resting peacefully..Thank dog Asta ignores the fireworks..and that we live in the city where other than the ones done officially, there were no booms or whizzing fireworks.

    Hurrah for if we could just get temps that are not in the hundreds.....
    smoochie kisses fromASTA love from Ami

  7. We hate fireworks as much as you do, Patience! Why did these darn things ever have to be invented?!
    Our paws are crossed that the neighbors have run out of fireworks and aren't planning on having any more pawties tonight! It was 90+ degrees here today! Please, doG, please let them be all gone!
    We are so happy that Fat Charlie is okay!

    Love ya lots
    Maggie and Mitch

  8. We have had our first "bad" fourth of July, with even (relatively) non-reactive Gussie playing Velcro Dog. And Teka...well...picture a JRT climbing the curtains toward an 11 ft high ceiling.

    I did call the police, who politely ignored me, but I'm not staying around this neighborhood for long, so I didn't much care about "relationship building," and told them that this morning.

    Ah, I am sooooo popular in Mayemphis.

    Gussie's Muzzer

  9. Francarrich from WWJuly 5, 2010 at 6:44 PM

    Sorry about the fireworks but delighted to hear that Fat Charlie is home & on the way to recovery.

    Next year you know that the best thing to do is just drive off somewhere out in the country for the evening.

    Wags from Banjo & Aida.

  10. I HATE fireworks too... here in Canada, our day was July 1st and never was I so happy to have a day over with. I have a very storm/noise phobic dog myself and summer is hard enough on Spike with crazy weather. Fireworks are UNBEARABLE! Next year, I'm taking him for a drive in the country!!

    So happy that Fat Charlie is home sweet home and on the road to recovery!!

  11. We so identify with what you experienced. This year was OK -- but several years past we've gone through the same kind of nightmare you just went through: adults who buy the forbidden and illegal fireworks and then let their kids set them off for hours and hours right in front of the house.

    John Adams was the one who said we shoudlld celebrate the signing of the Declaraton of Independence with bells and and illuminations --- did he have dogs???

    Wirey woofs from the Barkies!!

    We're all relieved that Fat Charlies is OK!


  12. I'm so glad that Fat Charlie is OK.

    One of the "joys" of living in the country is that fireworks are allowed. For the past 3 nights, beginning at 9 pm, there has been booming. I think there must be some rule about 9 pm. One of Gabi's puppies is very phobic. Until Josi, I didn't realize that Gabi is a little phobic (or perhaps they feed off of each other. Poor Josi -- she tried to climb into my computer amoire. Didn't think she would make it but she did. I figure tonight will be the last night....forty minutes. Sigh.

  13. What a horrible night. Maybe you can talk with the neighbors about how the fireworks affect you and your wonderful whippets... It was not bad at all at our house, just a few noises now and then, nothing terrible.

  14. There is no better sound than All Is Well
    so glad that the surgery went well
    We, too, had a rough 4th - my old man whippet (Raido) had a Thundershirt this year, which helped a small bit - given our neighbor (who sound like they are related to yours), a small bit was not a great deal - but a loud TV and the AC on high goes a long way
    Horray for the 5th! and for continued healing

    Buffalo Gayle, Raido and Tinker

  15. PATIENCE!! You're BACK!! Why did I think you'd quit blogging? Of course you're back! I love it. about those Paducah fireworks?! Really pretty huh? Just kidding, just kidding. Just for the helluvit I want you to link this post to this week's FSO.

    When we lived in Alabama our gentle, lovely, elderly German Shepard clawed her way through a CHAIN LINK FENCE in our yard to escape the neighbors' fireworks--which we weren't expecting b/c it was new year's eve, not July 4th. She showed up 2 days later, 5 miles away.

    So yeah. I always dread this holiday too.

  16. "German Shepherd" just didn't look right. I hate spelling.

  17. I kind of liked fireworks as a kid - but all we had were sparklers and some little cones. Where I live there are about 800 Indian reservations where they sell some stuff I really don't want any knowledge of. The two whippets I have now are currently not loud noise phobic, but my cat just sat and stared with huge round eyes. Poor Bella. So glad to hear the surgery went well. Hurray!!

    Sue, HotRod, Anneke, and Bella

  18. I'm with YOU, Patience! Our previous dog, Abby was terrified of loud noises. She would jump in the bathtub trying to claw her way to somewhere safe.

    Oh and I love the "shranks" as I call them...that start up the firecrackers at 1:30 in the friggin' morning!!

  19. Im sooo sorry to hear that 4th was sooo bad for all of you. Im in Norway now so the so not sure when there will be fireworks. Not that I want to listen to them. When I lived in Houston I was always worried my apt would catch on fire due to idiots setting them off close to old buildings.

    So happy Fat Charlie's surgery went soo well! Just scary overall. I saw 2 whippets on the bus the other day and thought about you at once :)

    Hug your whippes for me :)

  20. I'm sorry about the fireworks, but happy for Fat Charlie and that you are back to blogging.

  21. Gordy and GeorgieJuly 10, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Very glad Fat Charlie is doing better. Poor Patience and the hounds!It was awful here. The big bang stuff started a block away at 6pm, then at 10 the city fireworks which you can hear from here, local M80s etc kept on until 2am. We got maybe 3 hours sleep then staff had to get up and go to work. We napped. More bangs the evening of the 5th and the corker-4am Tuesday morning some one fired off five minutes worth of loud bangs/M80. We got about 3 hours of sleep. Georgie gets terribly upset with firecrackers. She trembled and paced all evening of the 4th and most of the 5th and couldn't be comforted. Her stress vest didn't help. I did fine. The staff felt very stressed and sleep deprived. Oh and it is illegal to buy/use fireworks in our town but there aren't enough police to enforce this law.

  22. Yoo hoo we are back now...we had awful computer problems and then PL2 had an awful schedule( and she knows you know about that) and she said the picture of you on the floor in your uniform is her every night.... SO we are all caught up and would like to say we too DESPISE the fireworks..Love and kisses A+A

  23. Poor dogs...the van was a great idea! I'm right there with you! For the first 4 years of Mason's life, I had to stay home with him on July 4th and New Year's because he had to be sedated. One July 4th I decided I would see how he did without sedatives and we would up in the Emergency Vet the next day because his anxiety caused him to poop pure blood. Urgh!


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