THE CLAP OF THUNDER CAPER
by Cheryl Poulin
(Ottawa, ON Canada)
Gus and his Thunder Struck Mom!
I have a fear of thunderstorms. Darkening skies make me anxious. I even nag my husband to not go out in them. Of course he does not listen.
When we picked up our Great Pyr puppy we were told in passing that he comes from a long line of dogs that fear thunderstorms. Oh, and his mom and grand-mom are both “counter jumpers”, but that’s a story for another time. We gladly took our boy, Gus, home in any case.
Now I have watched enough episodes of the Dog Whisperer to completely understand the whole energy thing. If I’m anxious my dog will likely be anxious. I get that. With much work I have almost overcome my irrational fear of imminent storms. And that fear has never been transferred to Gus.
Gus is now 4 years old and has had no issues even from some very severe storms. Thunder does not bother him at all. Maybe it is due to all of the years laying next to the big sub-woofer speaker in our home theater. Who knows? He is a Pyr! But now he has a new quirk that puzzles me.
During the last 2 storms he has asked to be let out using his signal of pawing at the back door. That usually means: "Take me to my kennel to do my “business”. But this was not quite right since his routine is usually earlier or later than when the storms came. So here it is. It’s raining and thundering and my heart is beating... did I mention that I am not in love with thunder storms? And he’s barking his warning bark and he's looking pretty serious about getting out.
Of course the idea of going outside into a storm is way past my comfort zone, plus it’s downright dangerous... Isn't it? Still, he insists and I’m thinking, “Holy smokes, if he doesn’t get out now I’ll have a heck of a mess to clean up! He's really got to go!” So I wait until the thunder is somewhat distant and with a little prayer and a rain slick and my waterproof boots on I decide to brave the elements and take Gus out there.
So here I am in the kennel (surrounded by a lightning conducting steel fence), offering up yet again a little prayer. The serious guardian that he is, Gus stands guard. He moves slowly and deliberately and he’s listening, nose up. What does he smell? What does he hear?
The thunder rolls and he’s on it! Bark, bark, bark. A few more steps, he listens, eyes squinting against the rain... completely focused and intent. CRACK-BOOM-BOOM! Bark, bark, bark! Snort! Harumph!
I swear if he had a fist he would have been shaking it at the bruised heavens with a stern message “Get back and stay back!!! This is my last warning!” And with that he came back to me and gestured that he wanted to be hitched up to go back indoors. No pee, no nothing. Okay Mom. You're safe.
I do believe my fearless Great Pyrenees Mountain Dog is guarding me against thunderstorms. Amazing guardians aren't they?