Friday, June 04, 2010

Thunder Dogs

If, like me, you are of a philosophical turn of mind, you may have often wondered, why are dogs afraid of thunderstorms? You might even wonder this while your collie mix is making a determined attempt to dig a hole in the computer room closet floor and your springer spaniel is setting new records for most pants per minute, with accompanying drool. You might also think, irritatedly, that dogs might notice that it has fucking thundered every day for two weeks and, honestly, get over it. And then you might wonder why cats are totally unafraid of thunderstorms yet still take everything but perfect, 70 degree sunny weather as a direct slight against them, almost certainly perpetrated by you in some evil, fuddled attempt at a most uncatly joke. That one I cannot answer.

However, I believe I can shed some light on the dogs and storms question. Years ago when my parents lived in Jackson County (Warning! I may already have told this story on this blog! I'm not sure and I don't care enough to check! Old age is like that!) they had a handyman kind of guy who would come around and do landscaping, stuff like that. This guy also had bees, which was highly awesome, because it led to us always having lots of sourwood honey - sourwood honey, if you don't know, is the best honey and will totally spoil you for all regular honey forever - and he was also one of those characters who are all about the folksy, down home yet slightly off kilter stories. Central casting, yes. However.

For whatever reason, my mother's dogs were always terrified of thunderstorms. I don't know why this was; maybe it was something in the way she reacted - although she was totally unafraid of pretty much everything - but I do remember that she had, once, to disassemble her bed to rescue one of the springer spaniels who had gotten stuck underneath it in an effort to escape a Charleston summer thunderstorm. After that adventure that same dog got downers prescribed just for such storms, which is how, some years later, I got to say the immortal words, "No, Mom, please do not mail me the dog tranquilizers. I don't think that's a good idea no matter how afraid I am of flying." on the phone, meanwhile visualizing the slightly crazed and no doubt sitcom worthy high jinks that would ensue from a resultant drug bust. It's all fun and games until somebody ends up in maximum security women's prison!

Back in Jackson County, though, my parents had basset hounds, one of whom was, predictably, terrified of thunderstorms. The other one was not. So one summer day, one dog was having a thunder induced panic attack when the handy guy stopped by.
"I don't know why," said my mother, "only one of them is afraid."
"The other one hasn't been hit yet." said handy guy.
"Hit?" said my mother, confused.
"By lightning," he explained. "Dogs is natural lightning magnets; they all get hit sooner or later. And then they're scared."

You bet they are! Watch out for dogs, people, they attract lightning like trailer parks call to tornadoes! And this probably explains why Django, who never cared a bit about thunderstorms, has suddenly started in the last couple weeks, to freak out almost as much as Theo whenever the rumbling begins. He must have been hit by lightning out in the yard or maybe while asleep under my bed (it's stealthy, that dog drawn lightning) and now, alas, the fear is upon him. What can you do? Dogs is lightning magnets.

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