Patti Soldavini

This Temper

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/29/2012 at 9:57 am

“Is that thunder? Or the END of the world?”

“Why am I getting a shot?” said Olive. “I don’t have a temper.” “Ha-Ha,” I replied. “Just because you’re so articulate Olive, doesn’t mean I’m dumb.” It’s time for your distemper shot again. And so that’s how Olive’s morning began this past Thursday. As we rise to greet a brand new morning, I look outside and see a storm front passing overhead. The clouds, the color of warm putty, cloak the sun completely. “Geez,” this doesn’t look very promising Olive, let’s hurry up and get to the vet.” Olive interprets this statement as an oxymoron. Her pleading amber eyes are as wide as the opening to one of the Lincoln Tunnel tubes. I glance out the front window, certain I just saw the Cowardly Lion scurrying through the cornfield seeking shelter. It’s a double whammy today for Olive at the vet’s office. Distemper shot and nails clipped. Her nails are so long she could probably eviscerate an African elephant in seconds. And thunder is surely on the horizon. For Olive, it is a “perfect storm” of a day. What I don’t understand is why after her first two years of life without incident, now, all of a sudden she is petrified of thunder. This just started happening in the last week or so. I hear her barking downstairs in the windowless bathroom in the basement. In the dark. She comes out once in a while only to pant, pace and shiver. I feel badly for her, but I won’t make the same mistake I did with Idgy. I tried comforting Idgy, swaddled her up in a blanket, played soft jazz music and sat with her in the bathroom for a while. Later on, I learned that all I did was reinforce her fear that something bad was about to happen. So, as much as I hate doing this, I ignore Olive. I act like there’s nothing to be afraid of and let her work it out herself. I’ve tried distracting her with food and toys, but no dice. This dog’s focus will not be broken. Something tells me, this is going to take a while. I don’t want to have to medicate her; the whole world — people and pets — are over-medicated these days. In the long run, it’s not good for either. I’ve seen the “Thundershirts” advertised for dogs and wonder if they work. It seems like bullshit. But, if it was designed by Temple Grandin, then I’d buy it without hesitation. Finally, the storm subsides. Olive is sitting on the couch next to me still on “high alert.” Her posture is ramrod stiff and her pupils are the size of ticks. It creates an expression of barely controlled panic. In fact, she looks slightly catatonic. Or, is that dogatonic? I place one hand on her side and feel tiny waves of fear rippling across her body. Her heartbeat, once pounding like hoofbeats across the Great Plains has now slowed to a near normal level. She finally drops into a “down” position and rests her head on my legs. In seconds, she’s sleeping and snoring like Rip Van Winkle. I gently pet her head and watch the sides of her mouth slowly puff in and out as she breathes. For some reason, I love watching this. I find it both gratifying and amusing.

  1. Oh, sweet Olive we are so sorry. Chancy does the same thing so we understand what you are going through. Hugs an nose kisses

  2. Aw that face! Amusing, but I too feel for her.

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