July 4th, Lost Dogs & Safety Tips
July 4th is a time of fun and excitement… for humans. If you have a dog with an anxiety disorder, however, the Fourth of July and its crowds, hubbub and fireworks and you have a recipe for disaster. Henrietta, my diva poodle, is fine with the fireworks and crowds as long as I am carrying her. Being surrounded by feet and not being able to see above the legs makes her anxious.
July is also an important time for all pet owners — it’s Lost Pet Prevention Month. While pet owners know it’s important to keep track of their animals year-round, it’s crucial to spend additional time sharing with pet owners, and especially new pet owners, how to keep their beloved pets safe and prevent them from getting lost.
Murray, now topping in at close to thirty pounds is too big to carry comfortably so that is not the fix for his anxiety with crowds and especially loud noises. This will be his first Fourth of July as he was born on March 13. We know, just from taking him for a walk that loud noises from cars and motorcycles freak him out, people walking behind us make him nervous, the sounds of music pouring out of the local bars had him slinking to the ground and tugging on his leash.
My husband and I never let our dogs off-leash. Even if they were well trained enough to obey a command to come back I am too worried about them being off leash to ever let them off, unless we are in a fenced in area.
Henrietta wears a collar with her rabies tag and her “My name is…” dog tag with my contact information on it. She rides with me in the car most everywhere and I always worry if we got into an accident or something and the door got opened that she might bolt. It puts me into a panic almost every time I get behind the wheel. Knowing she has her collar with contact info helps me ride without as much fear.
Murray also has his tag with our contact information and that alleviates some of our anxiety when we take him for a walk.
Here are my tips for protecting your pet when surrounded by the sights and sounds of the Fourth of July celebrations. Remember, too, any time you leave your home and are in an unfamiliar location, losing a pet could make it even harder to get him back home. Even when you’re home, though, if your beloved cat or dog slips out of the house, a tag with your contact information may make the difference between a lost pet and a found pet.
Keep him home.
Plain and simple. Does your dog really need to brave the crowds and be out for the fireworks? Believe it or not, they aren’t as fascinated with the pretty blasts of colors in the sky. In fact, the “booms” that might make us gasp or clap with glee, can hurt your dog’s ears. Those loud booms can lead to terror in your pet. Even though I love taking Henrietta places with me, I know there are times when she is better off at home. I am not doing her any favors by dragging her along — all I am doing is bringing her for my own edification.
Provide a safe, quiet spot.
It’s not enough to waltz out the door, pat your dog on the head and leave her home alone. If she can hear the loud noises of the fireworks and even the crowd noises, chances are she will be terrified. Not only is she home alone, but now she is hearing all of the unfamiliar noises.
Set your dog up with items that provide comfort. If he likes his crate, put him in it. If she has a favorite spot on your bed, let her go there. Give toys and a treat to keep them occupied.
Be especially diligent.
I know Murray has a habit of trying to slip out the door. We discovered that early on and are diligent in keeping track of him. Our cats never even go by the doors, but that doesn’t mean we don’t always shoo them away when we open the door. Henrietta is stuck to my leg like Velcro so when I go out, I snap on her leash and scoop her up.
When we first moved into our home, one of our cats, Parker, found a way to get out of the house by opening a cupboard door and finding a hole large enough to get free. He got underneath the house, but we didn’t know it until it was dinner time and he didn’t show up. Thankfully we found him and he was so thrilled to see us that he ran into our arms. We scoured the house to find out how he’d escaped, patched the area and never lost another cat. It could have been a tragic event if he’d not been so scared that he froze in place.
Take time today, and every day, to assure your pets are safe. Don’t let your pet become a “lost pet” statistic.