Battle Weary

The man who answered the phone at the sheriff’s office late last Saturday night was polite and sympathetic. “We’re getting lots of complaints about firework noise,” he told me, “especially now that the Fourth of July is over.

He went on to tell me that, since there’s no noise ordinance in the county and since shooting fireworks is legal for two weeks before the Fourth and two weeks after, there was nothing the sheriff’s department could do to stop it except to suggest to the revelers (if they could find them) that it was past most people’s bedtime.

Meanwhile, as my dogs drooled and trembled, the battle of Gettysburg raged all around us.

I thought I was ready this year. The day in early June when I heard the first firecracker pop, I went to my veterinarian and bought a bottle of acepromazine maleate, a prescription canine tranquilizer. It held 20 pills, 10 for each dog, and the vet assured me I could get a refill if that wasn’t enough.

The noise began in earnest just before dusk on June 29. I tucked pills into bite-size pieces of hot dog and gave one to each dog. It was well past dark when they finally settled down. Meaning that they quit pacing the screened porch like caged lions. I finally let them in the house, which is a whole ‘nother story entirely, and logged on to Facebook. I posted a picture of Sophie, the cutest dog in the whole wide world, along with this rant: “She’s had a canine tranquilizer and is in the house with the range fan on high and the TV blaring and my arms wrapped around her and still she won’t stop trembling…I hate the Fourth of July.”

Within minutes, I got dozens of comments, most of them sympathetic. It would seem that my dogs aren’t the only ones who go nuts over fireworks, nor is Putnam County the only place in the USA where fireworks are used with an overabundance of enthusiasm. A couple of friends suggested I try “thunder shirts.” Others recommended putting the dogs in an interior room with no windows. And Hugh Billingsley, who owns Fireworks City on S. Jefferson Avenue, invited me to stop by his stand for some “Heavenly Hounds,” a peanut butter-flavored relaxation product for dogs that contains passion flower and valerian root, which are thought to relieve anxiety and nervousness.

I stopped by the next day and purchased some treats, but before I could try them out on Sophie and Iniesta, I got another message from Hugh. He’d discovered the Heavenly Hounds were past their expiration date and suggested I return them for a full refund.

Leaving me with only a bottle of acepro and the realization that I should plan to be within hugging distance of my dogs every night until July 18.  In next week’s column, I’ll finish this story.

(July 16, 2017)