Friday, July 5, 2013

Athena and the Big, Bad, Fireworks

Well, last night we experienced the big booms and bangs of fireworks with Athena during her first 4th of July spent with us.  In the first few months of having Athena, I was sure that we would never be able to enjoy the 4th of July again.  With her fear of pretty much everything, I figured we'd have to drug her and keep her locked up while we watched fireworks on TV.  However, more recently Athena has put on her big girl panties and has really shown us that she's not afraid of EVERYTHING, just a few things (like skateboards...and certain people...and rolled up rugs...).

Our first indicator of how Athena would react to fireworks came on New Year's Eve when a few people in our neighborhood lit some off.  Surprisingly, Athena showed no reaction to the loud noises.  As the 4th of July approached, part of me thought that Athena might not be bothered by the fireworks, but another part of me knew that with the 4th of July comes many more fireworks that are much louder than they usually are on New Year's Eve.

Fireworks went on sale here in Portland a little over a week ago, so many people have been lighting off their loot in the days leading up the the 4th.  Athena showed no reaction to any of these pre-4th festivities giving us hope that she'd be calm on the actual day.  The thing about fireworks here in Oregon is that we can't light off any of the big cool ones that shoot in the air.  That means that all of the fireworks that are actually legal here are pretty quiet and can't go more than a foot in the air, or six feet horizontally.  The catch is, we are a ten minute drive to Washington where the big loud fireworks are legal.  MANY Portlanders buy their fireworks in Vancouver and then light off the illegal fireworks on the 4th and risk getting the $750 citation.

Even knowing that many of the fireworks in my grandma's neighborhood would be loud and illegal, I brought Athena to my usual family get together last night.  Being the helicopter dog mom that I am, I packed a bag full of goodies including a deluxe frozen Kong, frozen beef marrow bone, jumbo bully stick, multiple Nylabones, bull horn, toys, balls, and lots of treats to prepare myself just in case Athena had a meltdown.  While my family barbecued and played badminton, Athena played ball and dressed up for the occasion.

Puffin' as usual

Once it got dark, the fireworks really started booming all around us.  Athena spent some time in her crate with a tasty treat while the TV and radio blocked out the noise.  My family and I lit off our own fireworks outside (I promise they were wimpy and legal) and Athena stayed completely quite and content in her crate (at a place where she's never been crated before!).

Athena on the swing with her great grandma

I can't believe that Athena really had zero reaction to the fireworks.  I know that so many people struggle to keep their dogs calm and free of anxiety on the 4th and I thought for sure that Athena would be one of those dogs.  But, as usual, Athena showed me that I don't have to be such a worry wart all of the time!

Lady, why are these on my head?

How did you spend your 4th of July and what do you do to keep your dog calm while the fireworks are booming?


  1. Yay! Good for Athena. Shy dogs can be surprising, can't they? Our shy girl Pyrrha is scared of most things, but fireworks and thunderstorms don't bother her at all. We'll take the small victories! (She looks super-cute in her headband and tutu, by the way!)

  2. Yay Athena! What a cute little bug - I love her holiday outfit! We are lucky as well our pups have never really shown any reaction to fireworks accept for the REALLY loud/bright illegal ones you see/hear once in a while.

  3. Way to go, Athena! Ray jumped and skittered a few times when the neighbors shot theirs off, but by dusk, I put him in the house with his bully stick and some soothing music, so he was pretty chill.

  4. What a relief for her to be so cool about the whole thing. Koira turns into a bit of a shaking mess, even with medication, but doesn't go into full panic mode. And Pallo could care less- so much so that I have even taken him to a fireworks show a previous year, and he had fun getting attention from all the people.

  5. Good job, Athena! At home there is a fireworks store on the PA side of the line, but you have to be out of state (Maryland) to shop there. We've been fortunate with most of our fosters and Gambit being fine with fireworks and thunder. Fireworks go off in the stadium for every touchdown and we have frequent isolated summer thunderstorms. Eddie is the exception and slept under my desk all night with the help of Rescue Remedy. Occasionally, he'd come out smiling but then he'd hear a firework or clap of thunder and run right back. Not nearly as bad as my previous dog, who would shake incessantly and have an accident if no one was home!

  6. Way to go Athena! We had quite a few loud ones going off around us all night but Boomer has no interest and slept through them while Dottie had a few that made her jump but she went right back to sleep.

  7. Yay Athena!! And she looks SUPER cute all dressed up for the occasion! I love the pic of her on the swing!

  8. Awwww! Good for Theaner! Turk decided this year that fireworks were big jerks and decided it was best to bark and growl at them every time they went off. He also yodeled a bit. It was quite entertaining - although we Thundershirted and Rescue Remedied him so he wouldn't be too scared. :) PS - she looks adorbs in her tutu!

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