Sunday, July 4, 2010

"And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air"

A couple of years ago, Andy was the only dog living with me. Abby could no longer live with us since her limited mobility made it difficult for her to get in and out of the condo I lived in, so she stayed at my mom’s ranch style home where she could move around better. There were only a couple of steps in the house and not any stairs for her to deal with, and she only had to step outside a few feet in order to get to a suitable place for her to use the bathroom.

It was the Fourth of July, later in the evening when I took Andy for his usual late evening walk, not realizing it was the holiday. I knew Andy was petrified of fireworks. He has such a nervous disposition. I found this out the hard way many years ago when I was visiting my mom during the Fourth of July earlier in the decade. I knew Andy lived his life in fear, but that didn’t stop me from buying some fireworks at the grocery store and later that night setting them off. Looking back, that was an awful idea. He was scared shitless. Andy has always been a scaredy-cat. Loud noises, for example, scared the hell out of him driving him to run into the back of the house to hide.

So here we were, halfway through our walk which is about a quarter of a mile, and a huge display of fireworks in the downtown area merely blocks from us were set off. I didn’t realize that fireworks were going to be set off so close to home. I am not sure if it had been done in previous years, actually. I think this was a new event in the downtown area as a part of the downtown revitalization initiative. Fayetteville Street back in the 70’s was closed off and turned into a mall, which didn’t work out so well. The city was fighting a nationwide trend of stores fleeing downtown areas to shopping centers and malls in the outer suburbs with safer settings and better parking. But now the mall area was torn up, and Fayetteville Street was open to traffic once again.

The fireworks were so loud that it made the ground shake. It even rattled me at first when they went off. Andy was paralyzed in fear. He crouched down and stayed still. I comforted him, and immediately took him back to my condo where the noise was well shielded from the outside. The only problem was that Andy did not doo-doo, and now that he was scared, he couldn’t or wouldn’t go. This meant that sometime later that night, he would have to go. If I didn’t take him out later in the evening, he would slip out of bed late in the night and leave me a present on the rug downstairs. Abby could have held it, but Andy wouldn’t have. Later that night after things had calmed down, and the crowds had vanished, I took Andy back out where he took care of business.

I wish Andy were not so fearful all the time, but things could have been worse. I knew of someone who left his boxer out in the backyard one evening during the Fourth of July. The dog became so spooked by the fireworks that he jumped over the fence, ran into a nearby road and was run over and killed by a car. When Andy gets scared, he becomes paralyzed with fear, shuts down and won’t move.

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