Tag Archives: Dogs

Chipper’s almost Immune to the Sound of Fireworks

Chipper is my success story.

He’s become almost immune to the sound of fireworks.

Last year he slept at my feet through the grand finale, less than a mile away.  I remember sitting in front of the computer with a 20-inch box fan set at high speed to make my upstairs office more comfortable in the heat.   Sure, the sound of the fan helped dim the sound a bit, but not by much.

Two years before that he had driven my mother nuts with his pacing, his hiding, refusing to go outside to do his business if he heard a tiny blip of a firecracker – for weeks.  I ended up paying her caretaker overtime for several days around the fourth of July, just to help my Mom take care of anxious little Chipper.  If Mom could have driven her car back then, she likely would have put him down.  He drove her that crazy.

I’m enjoying reading all the newsprint about ways to care for anxious dogs who are terrified of the fireworks.  One friend from my BlogPaws network even suggested leaving town and checking into a remote motel for the weekend with her dog, far away from the cracks and booms of fireworks displays.  I thought that was extreme.

Then I read the suggestion of putting cotton balls in the dog’s ears.  How long do you think that would last?  In my dogs, about two seconds.

The Chicago Tribune posted some good tips http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/letters/ct-fireworks-frighten-off-creatures-big-and-small-20160701-story.html

  • Exercise your dog thoroughly before the fireworks.
    • A tired dog is a good dog – has always been my experience.
  • Have a crate as a friendly refuge.
    • Especially if you leave your dog home alone during the fireworks.
  • The FDA has recently approved a new drug called Sileo.
    • Requires a veterinarian prescription.
  • Use low doses of Melatonin,

I’ve tried the Thundershirt, which only made my dogs hotter than they already were in the July heat.

I have not tried melatonin or Sileo.

What works for Chipper?

Chipper & Harmonease

Chipper and Harmonease

Harmonease chewable tablets.  I have used this for years and it has helped Chipper and my last dog, Cassie.  I recently told my sister in-law about Harmonease, and she tried something similar at her local pet shop, that helped her Basset mix a lot.

Harmonease uses extracts from Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron  amurense https://www.drugs.com/vet/harmonease-chewable-tablets.html .   Amazon sells this over-the-counter drug.  I am not being paid for this endorsement, just promoting something that has worked for me.

Book Review: Pack of Two by Caroline Knapp

Caroline Knapp has put into words many feelings that I share regarding several of my relationships with dogs. Words I had not heard before about the deep relationship a dog can provide—not just any dog, but a special bond that forms especially with dogs we have had for a long time or have had during critical periods in our lives.

Caroline had never owned a dog as an adult, but after the illnesses and deaths of both her parents, her break up with her long-time boyfriend, and overcoming alcoholism, she decided to get a dog.

… dogs can—and often do—lead us into a world that is qualitatively different from the world of people, a place that can transform us. Fall in love with a dog, and in many ways you enter a new orbit, a universe that features not just new colors but new rituals, new rules, a new way of experiencing attachment.”

Pack of TwoShe discusses many things that I felt with my dear, departed Cassie, who went to work with me her entire life, traveled on almost every vacation, slept in my bed, and spent most of every day with me. She felt anxious when I was gone, causing me to schedule my work as an environmental consultant into short field days away from her, returning to her in the office; to teach at the local community college, so I could work on lectures and grade papers at home; to walk 3.3 miles to work and back for years until her arthritis required me to shorten those walks by parking my car only a mile away. Many, many things I did because of my dear Cassie.

Caroline recalls a similar experience:

…how I basically structure my life around the dog, organizing the day around the morning walk, the noon walk, the evening outing….how much I think about Lucille (her dog), how much I hate leaving her alone when I have to go out, how I’ve either written off or vastly reduced my involvement in activities that don’t include her—shopping, movies, trips that involve air travel.

Many statements in “Pack of Two” rang true for me, including:

“Growing up, the only person my father could relate to was the family dog… He was a completely isolated person and none of us was close to him, but because he and I both had this bond to the dog, we had a relationship. We could take long walks in the woods and be friends, with the dog as a catalyst.”

I can truly relate to this statement. Our family dog was the catalyst for my relationship with my dad. He had stopped talking to me for well over a year after I moved in with my boyfriend, but when I brought my new puppy over to his house, he broke his silence and said, “Now you’re responsible for another life. You need to take care of it.” That was the last full sentence I remember him saying to me as nasopharyngeal cancer took away his voice and he died a few years later, with me and that dog at his side.

Caroline is most famous for Drinking: A Love Story. It’s her memoir about being an alcoholic and overcoming this disease, which made me see it in a whole new light. Unfortunately, Caroline passed away in 2002 from cancer. Gail Caldwell describes Caroline’s illness, and their friendship which began because of their dogs, in Take the Long Way Home.

Be Careful Feeding your Dogs Bones

Not all bones are safe for your pet and certainly not the Real Ham Bone made by Dynamic Pet Products. My dog Cassie had loved them, chewing on them for hours. But once larger pieces started breaking off – I took it away. More than once I’ve had her poop hard bone fragments, so I tried to restrict her to only getting the meat and marrow and prevent her from eating too much bone.

Cassie enjoying a Real Ham Bone.

Cassie enjoying a Real Ham Bone.

Other dogs haven’t been so lucky, especially not Nugget, a cockapoo who died after gnawing on this brand of bone. To date there have been 54 Real Ham Bone complaints and 5 or 6 dogs have died.

These bones are FDA regulated, but they do warn that bones are unsafe and can cause gastrointestinal obstruction, vomiting, diarrhea and death. Bones can be hazardous whether cooked or raw.


I recommend the following:

  • Watch your dog when you give him a bone.
  • Let him chew on it for a half hour or less then throw it in the trash. Old bones can attract insects and other animals if left outside.
  • If he starts cracking off large pieces, take the bone away and dispose of it.
  • Watch for signs of gastrointestinal distress such as a distended stomach, vomiting, or pain.
    • Take him to the vet if he shows signs of distress.
  • Note if he is pooping normally and the consistency. I’ve noticed Cassie’s stools get very hard after she chews on a bone.
  • Never give your dog chicken bones or rib bones. These can splinter, puncturing the stomach or intestines.

Dogs and Ice Cream

Every time we exited my front gate, Cassie headed south, towards McDonald’s, the pier, and other goodies tossed out – treasures to a perpetually hungry dog.   She always looked disappointed when I turned north for our usual walk, but when I turned south, she raised her wagging tail and quickened her gait, often barking and turning towards me as if to say “Really? We’re going this way?”

Chipper devouring an ice cream cone.

Chipper devouring an ice cream cone.

In the summer, she pulled me towards Government Pier anytime I walked near downtown Waukegan, often convincing me to follow her desires. She wanted a dip in Lake Michigan, and if she was lucky and our timing was right, ice cream from Dockside Ice Cream http://www.yelp.com/biz/dockside-ice-cream-waukegan . They had the best hard ice cream, but we always had to choose something without chocolate for us to share with Cassie, after she devoured her baby cone.

As she developed arthritis and walks to the pier became too painful, we started walking to McDonald’s, a much closer trip, to buy a vanilla cone placed upside down in a plastic cup. McDonald’s won’t serve you through the drive through if you are not in a car, so I’d tie up the dogs and go inside – a bummer, since then I couldn’t watch them.

Cassie never liked Frosty Paws Ice Cream for dogs, she much preferred the real thing, as did we. Her love for ice cream probably began on paddling trips to Wisconsin’s Wolf River. We often stopped on the way home at The Dairy Cove in Cecil, Wisconsin (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dairy-Cove/76795891546) for a quick bite to eat a “pup cup”, free ice cream for dogs.

Cassie’s favorite camping trips involved making homemade ice cream, a tradition that began when the owner of a private campground near Mammoth Cave brought around homemade ice cream to share with the campers. Our friend, Kelly, thought this should become a tradition and purchased a hand crank ice cream freezer. But, unless we camped with a large group, we had lots of leftovers, so Mitch and Kelly would walk around the campground and offer ice cream to the delight of many campers.  One evening we finished making ice cream too late to share with other campers, so Cassie made a gallant effort to finish all the ice cream, but finally turned away, probably the only time she ever had her fill of ice cream.

Apparently, a love for ice cream is common to more dogs than mine. Garrison Keillor on his May 9th radio show A Prairie Home Companion, in The News from Lake Wobegon, told of Maisy, the black lab that would nuzzle up to small children as she stole licks from their ice cream cones. When the dog died, the town held an ice cream social in her honor http://prairiehome.org/shows/may-9-2015/

So during our next camping trip when we make homemade ice cream, we’ll share it with others in memory of Cassie, the ice-cream loving dog.