This year November 5th landed on a weekend and the accompanying firework activity was particularly intense. As a kid I always used to enjoy Bonfire Night, but increasingly I just see it as a crazy waste of money that scares the life out of anything with four legs and sends scores of burns victims to hospital. It’s enough to make a person howling mad, especially if that person is already prone to howling.
This time around we had a “Thundershirt” for the Beanster and it certainly helped. She still spent a lot of time on my lap and still needed to be accompanied on trips to the outside loo, but at least it kept her from physically shaking with fear. I’ve read that many dogs seek out the best cave-substitute they can find at such times; certainly Biggles was keen to curl up in the corner of the living room behind my computer desk and chair. Beanie however seemed to want a clear view of her surroundings – to see any threats that were coming her way. During a particularly loud and extended series of whizz-bangs she sought refuge in the bathroom, but even then she wanted the door left wide open.
Whenever the noise stopped Biggles immediately returned to his normal behavior, but Beanie remained on alert, her eyes scanning the ceiling for potential threats. To counter this we served up cow ears; those things take so long to chew through that on finishing even Beanie seemed to have forgotten about the preceding trauma.
Another thing that helped break the cycle of fear was a return trip to Loch Ard in the campervan. We drove down on the night of November 4th just as rain paused the fireworks. On arrival I dished up another round of cow ears, not as therapy this time, but simply to keep the furry types occupied while I tucked into a snack of my own. It didn’t quite work as planned; when Beanie came close to finishing she repeatedly tried to swallow her remaining piece early, gagged a little when it didn’t fit her throat, and then returned to chewing. This of course had me worried that she was about to choke, and while I was distracted, his Biggleship – who had finished his ear quickly – pounced on the bedding stored behind the back seat and began a vigorous bed-making exercise. I was suddenly torn between making sure Beanie was OK, keeping my own food from spilling, and protecting the delicate memory foam in the bedding from being torn to shreds by The Bigglet. Somehow I managed all three, though later the bed did feel lumpier than it had on previous outings.
Very early the next morning I struggled out of bed, taking care not put weight on any of the paws, tails, or ears that were in there with me. Beanie and Biggles remained under the covers as I dressed, prepared my camera gear and gulped down a carton of chocolate milk; however the instant I pulled out their harnesses and leads they were up and ready to go, with bright eyes and waggy tails.
Lochan a’ Ghleannain by Loch Ard, about fifteen minutes before sunrise
As on our previous visit we followed the longest waymarked trail by Loch Ard, but this time we did it in the opposite direction, making an early stop at Lochan a’ Ghleannain. I got some beautiful shots of one of the “islands” on the mini-loch, but getting into position meant traversing some marshland and slowly sinking while I waited for the clouds to get some pre-sunrise color. This was not popular with my furry companions and it cost me dearly in biccies and jumbones! Fortunately things got less noisy and marginally less hungry once we were moving again.
After we returned home Beanie & Biggles still had another round of fireworks to endure, but I think the walk recharged their batteries a little and helped them get through it. That and the cow ears.