Friday, June 26, 2009

Rain, guilt

We've had a lot of thunderstorms again lately. Every day starts out gorgeous, with lots of sun (though perhaps a bit too hot), but around early or mid-afternoon, it gets dark and overcast. Yesterday it started raining around 4:00 pm and didn't stop most of the evening, and today it went from sunny, to thundering and pouring, back to sunny in the space of about two hours.

Our most recent addition to the household, an American white shepherd named Grace that we got two years ago, is a rescue and a fairly nervous dog, thanks to whatever happened to her in her past life. We do know that her previous owners chained her up underneath a trailer and abandoned her there, and we suspect she spent a lot of her life chained up outside, because she is scared of being left out in the backyard and storms absolutely terrify her.

This is an old picture, from shortly after we got her, so she was still about 25 pounds underweight — but this is what she does during storms:

Our dog Grace, hiding under my desk during a thunderstorm

Keep in mind this is a BIG dog — about 75 to 80 pounds at her full weight, and tall for a shepherd — crammed into the footwell of my desk.

Her favorite place to hide from the thunder is in our big claw foot tub, but she likes to be near whoever is home, so if she can she'll hide in the same room. If I'm working on the bed, she crams herself in between the bed, wall, and nightstand; if I'm working in the office, she'll hide underneath my desk.

Anyway, Michael had today off so I was originally planning to go to the barn this afternoon, but since I was behind on work I decided to stay home and get caught up. Before I knew it, the skies were black and it was pouring. I assumed it would be another day like yesterday, where it never really let up enough to ride, so Michael and I made plans to see a late afternoon showing of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.

Naturally, by the time we left for the movie, the sun was coming out. I was hoping the weather would be yucky again by the time we came out of the theater, but alas, it was still sunny. We went out for dinner and spent the rest of the evening at a bookstore — and I battled with my guilt the entire time. I feel like if I wasn't working I should have been visiting Panama, and if I wasn't visiting Panama I should have been working.

Two years ago, when I first brought Panama to Denver, I visited him literally every single day. Even a year ago, I was still there nearly every day. This winter, though, I was down to once or twice a week — and even now, while my frequency has increased, I'm only visiting perhaps 3 or 4 times a week. I wish I knew what changed, and how I can get back to visiting daily. Heaven knows, I may not get as much done that way, but I feel a heck of a lot better!



At June 26, 2009 at 11:55 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Fear of thunderstorms is common for dogs. I've had my Corgi since she was weaned and have never abused nor abandoned her, yet she is terrified of thunderstorms. She senses them coming hours ahead of time, even before the sky clouds over, and she tries climbing into places where there are electrical outlets, and then she gets tangled in the cords. She tips over all my art supplies, climbs into our sports rack and knocks everything down. I always know that when I hear the sound of aluminum baseball bats clattering, a storm is on the way. Because we don't want her hanging herself on cords or getting conked in the head with a baseball bat, we chase her away from those hiding places and encourage her to hide in the bathroom. She goes in there and closes the door behind her, because she feels more comfortable in the dark. Save the possibility of drowning in the toilet, the bathroom is relatively safe for her.

At June 27, 2009 at 12:15 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Oh goodness, I'd never suspect you of abusing your animals, NM! You don't even have to say that. I do know many dogs are afraid of thunderstorms, but since we actually know some of Grace's history I'm guessing being chained up outside and left has something to do with it. She was outside for weeks, and would have died had a neighbor not fed and watered her.

The fact that she doesn't like going outside, no matter what the weather -- we have to walk outside with her just to get her to pee -- seems to support this theory. If you let her outside and don't go out with her, within about 5 seconds she's back at the door, right up against the glass as if she is willing her body to pass through it.

We actually encourage Grace not to hide in the bathroom. She has a bad hip (hip dysplasia and arthritis) so getting back out of the big claw foot tub is quite challenging for her. When she is freaking out (which is happening on a daily basis right now, with our daily afternoon storm) I try to situate myself so that she can "hide" somewhere close to me -- under my desk, beside the bed, or even behind the couch if I'm working in the living room.

Oh, and what you said about knowing a storm is coming -- it's the same with Grace, except she paces. She only actually hides when she hears thunder or rain. (She is equally as scared of the sound of rain on the roof as the thunder, if not more so.)

At June 27, 2009 at 5:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Golden Retriever, Sunny, who very sadly died at about this time last year, was terrified of storms - particularly of thunder. When he was tiny puppy, he was sitting with us on our front porch during a storm when lightening struck and split a tree not 50 yards from the house - after that he would try to climb in your lap whenever there was lightening.

My mare Maisie doesn't like wind or storms - but only if she's in the barn - if she's outside she doesn't care. She kicks and body-slams to say that she's nervous.

Don't worry about visiting Panama - he probably doesn't worry about it!

At June 27, 2009 at 6:09 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Kate, I can imagine how much that experience would have freaked Sunny out! Good heavens!

Panama gets a little more high-strung during storms, particularly if there are high winds. But that becomes obvious more if I'm working with him when it's windy, not so much when he's in the pasture. I think feeling confined or trapped tends to heighten their flight instinct.

Yeah, I'm sure Panama doesn't worry overly much about it when I don't visit. I think he does miss me if I wait too long, though, because he's more likely to come greet me at the gate and seek out attention if it's been a few days.


Post a Comment

<< Home