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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Things are starting to calm down here after the canine and feline horrors of fireworks and guests in the house.

I do like fireworks. They are an important part of greeting the new year for me, so I won't follow the trend of condemning them just because I'm a dog and cat owner. Doesn't mean I don't see how stressful they are for our four-legged family members.

Elanor was a brave little girl this year, at least 10 steps up from last year when she would hide under my parents' bed all night and develop a bladder infection because she was so stressed out. This year I had her locked up in my room, with the lights and radio for company and the windows and blinds tightly shut.
Everytime I went up to her, she'd come running and complain about being locked in. On New Year's morning she wandered back outside without a care in the world.

Alys had a harder time dealing with the situation. For our last walk, at around six pm on New Year's Eve she apparently understood perfectly what was required of her. She ducked out the door, very quickly walked to the clostes meadow, emptied her bladder and very quickly walked back home. All clearly scared, with her entire body held low and quick, hectic glances in every direction.
Back home she ran up the stairs and tried to hide on the steps for a while, ears pricked up and shaking. After about 20 minutes she came back downstairs, lay down on her mattress and calmed down. She was pretty relaxed when out guests arrived. I think the constant chatter might even have helped. But she just generally seems to feel safe inside the house, no matter what's going on outside.

Knowing that, we left her alone at midnight to go up to the vineyards and watch the fireworks. It's a great place to see the entire town explode in lights. I have to say, though, this year I found them a bit eerie. The fog was so thick, that you couldn't see the town at all, and a few minutes after midnight, even the houses right next to the vineyard including their Christmas lights had disappeared entirely. That left us with dark grey nothing, a lot of howling and exploding noises and occasionally the sky would light up in faint reds or greens. It looked more like pretty much any night-set of any war movie ever than New Year's celebrations.

Anyway, when we came back home, Alys had apparently decided to go to bed - it was way past her normal bedtime after all. I found her on the sofa, but with our guests coming back in, she rushed back onto her mattress, now clearly bemused by the strangers back in her house.

The next morning I could hardly get her out of bed, but almost 16 hours after her evening walk, it was way past time for her to at least go relieve herself. But Alys was tired and had decided that outside was still dangerous. It took me at least 15 minutes to convince her to very slowly walk towards the garages with me. Until my Mom came outside to see if we had made any progress, and Alys instantly tried to follow her back inside.
Once both my parents joined us outside and she had all her humans with her, she finally started walking properly.

It went well for quite a while. Within 10 minutes Alys was back to her normal self, her entire posture changed, and she even started running off all the nervous energy from the night before.
Until, on our way home, some idiots, who hadn't gotten the memo that the New Year had already started 12 hours earlier, just had to throw firecrackers right on the other side of a little stream. Alys started running in the opposite direction in blind panic, and was only slightly slowed down my me at the other end of her training leash. I let her run for a bit before I tried to double back through the vineyards to steer her home.

It seemed to work for a while, until we had to walk roughly back in the general direction of the firecrackers. Alys utterly refused to walk another step, first sitting, the lying down on the path. She even refused any social contact with me, turning her head away, clearly scared.

I sent my parents home to maybe get the car, but by the time they called me to ask about our progress, Alys was willing to react to my signals again. So very slowly, and with lots of praise and treats we started walking home.
We were just reaching the first houses, maybe five minutes from home when another firecracker exploded somewhere close by. Alys stopped, instanly sat down and tried to flee again the first chance she saw.
I had little choice but to pick her up - something he hates, but hardly reacted to this time - and carry her a few steps towards home. When I put her back down, she looked around and seemed to finally realize where she was. From that point we made it home very, very quickly.

We took her with us to see my grandparents that night. Small, quiet village sounded like a good idea. Alys seemed to think so to. I can't remember ever seen her get into the car this willingly.
Unfortunately, the moment we went to take her and by grandparents' JRT Sissi for a walk, there was one lonely firecracker, and the only thing on Alys' mind was getting back inside.

On an adorable note: Sissi, who didn't mind the firecracker and loves walks whenever she can get them, stopped and pulled back home the moment she realized Alys wasn't coming. Adorable dog buddies, that's what they are!

Picture was taken at Christmas though

Things have calmed down since then. Alys slept through most of yesterday, still exhausted from the stress, and she still isn't too keen on going for walks after dark. But during the day, her only sign of insecurity is when she stops at the door for a cautious look skywards.

And now, we have an entire year for some habituation training.

How did you spend New Year's Eve and the first days of 2016?


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 4th, 2016 07:03 am (UTC)
Our dog hates anything that is a huge boom (thunder, fireworks) and usually is quite scared and tries to hide pretty much anywhere that is enclosed and as away from the big booms as possible. But this year the fireworks didn't seem to bother her as much as it used to. Perhaps it's because we had the television on loud enough for her to not really notice. Maybe it's because we were all calm and not doing anything that exciting around that time.

Either way, she was unusually quiet and not attentive to the fireworks, which is kind of a surprise but also a blessing.

I just wish she would do that with thunder, though. Because I love thunderstorms and want to enjoy them without worrying about there being a poor dog terrified out of her mind. (And I know there are ways of training your dog to not react that way to such noises, but idk how effective it would be for her now).
Jan. 4th, 2016 09:43 am (UTC)
Aw, poor sweety. Alys is scared of thunderstorm too, but she calms down after them way more quickly. Maybe because she has a better sense of when they are over.

You can always teach a dog new things, regardless of their age. Some things might take a bit more time and patience than teaching a young dog, other things an older dog may even learn more quickly. So I think it's always worth a try if it makes your dog's life easier,
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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