When you light the fuse, spare a thought for the little doggie…

Fireworks and flowers Fireworks
Fireworks Fireworks

Generally, Halloween makes me think even better of my neighbourhood. The kids running around are terrifyingly cute, of course. And it’s hard not to get a warm feeling from the generosity and evident fun being had by the treat-givers as well (especially some of the older folk).

But another Vancouver tradition this time of year is less enjoyable. I have never lived in a Canadian city where selling and exploding fireworks is legal, much less so widespread. For a period of weeks, a firecracker can go off at any moment, and the evenings are a steady stream of explosions that often extend into the morning hours.

In previous years, I hadn’t thought much either way about the nightly banging, rattling, and whistling… It gave the city a certain pleasing, lawless atmosphere, and I certainly can understand the fun to be had in blowing stuff up.

Then we got a dog. Even sporadic firecracks can set him into an absolute panic, and when the steady Halloween barrage begins, well, the mental anguish is a sad thing to see… He quakes uncontrollably, cannot take comfort from us, wedges himself under furniture, jumps into the bathtub and tries to claw his way down through it…

We have since learned that our animal is not unusual. A great many dogs and cats experience similar panics this time of year, some of them so afraid to go outside for days that they suffer some truly gruesome problems with their digestive tracts… I can only imagine the effects on the wildlife in the city: the raccoons, the coyotes… and the birds are clearly being disturbed.

Last night was particularly hard on gentle, sweet Dexter. We were trying to find music on the stereo loud enough to mask the sounds but with some calming qualities as well. Then Keira remembered that Dex likes to sing along with the accordion:

This time, Dexter was too freaked to sing along, but the effects of the accordion were remarkably soothing. However, the calm was fleeting, the run of explosions outside was unrelenting. So we found ourselves in the wee morning hours lying in bed, desperate for sleep, taking turns playing the accordion, a quaking dog at our feet…

Not to be a killjoy, but I wish the annual firework party in Van Rock City didn’t involve cruelty to the creatures we share the space with…

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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5 Responses to When you light the fuse, spare a thought for the little doggie…

  1. Hmmmm, I wonder if the accordion would sooth a crying 2 year old?

    We’re lucky. This is the second year where our municipality has enforced a strict fireworks ban. Sure makes sleeping for everyone easier.

  2. Alan Levine says:

    I hope Dex is okay, what trauma! Bring him to Strawberry next year; living in a dry forest has put a complete damper on fireworks. Nary a pop all night long (well maybe a stray car backfire).

  3. Katherine Irvine says:

    Hmm, something I never thought about – my dog was never bothered by fireworks. Of course, he was one of those little pea-brained fellows bred to cheerfully fight things bigger and meaner than himself.

    Also, it might not be entirely fear – he might have sensitive enough hearing that the bangs are painful on his poor ears. In that case, adding more noise might not help. Does he react poorly to thunder?

  4. DebbieG says:

    Thanks for that, Brian! How true. One of my dogs used quite literally not to eat for about a week because of all the firecrackers and fireworks in our neighbourhood. And every time he went out for a pee last thing at night a bang would go off and he’d race back in and into the deepest darkest corner he could find. Dogs with herding backgrounds tend to be more noise sensitive than others, but many dogs share the same problem. Sadly, the fireworks ban Clint mentioned didn’t seem as effective this year in my neighbourhood (maybe I’m in a rougher part of town than Clint *grin*)

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