Saturday, August 1, 2009

Summertime Blues

Driving home during a terrible downpour, there he was zigzagging down the middle of the highway. Cars were veering sideways, horns blasting and brakes screeching like banshees. Scaring him more than he already was, the terrified dog made it to the side of the road, then ran like hell home. (Yes, we stopped to help; no, he wouldn’t come near us; yes, I’ve seen him since and he’s okay).

However, with the glut of information disseminated about the effect fireworks has on pets, you’d think most people would realize that - especially for dogs and cats - a Florida summer day can be just as stressful because crackling afternoon noisemakers occur more often than not.

So, why oh why, do some insist on leaving their pets alone outside when a major storm is approaching? Cats, at least, can usually find a semi-enclosed space to hide though I‘m sure they‘re still scared stiff. For fenced-in dogs with no cover, their fear overtakes all. As a result, they’ll dig/jump/climb…..anything to escape.

Admittedly, not all pets are afraid of thunder and lightning, yet who among us would want to be totally exposed to the treacherous elements of a bad storm? I mean - besides being worried - I was mad as a wet hen as we were running around with lightning popping every few seconds and getting drenched to boot trying to save this poor creature from getting smashed to smithereens.

I understand that Florida’s summer storms can come on quickly, with scant warning to us humans. However, with their superior sense of hearing and smell, animals know long before we do that a weather disturbance is approaching and try to seek shelter accordingly. Again, if that means busting out of the yard to find safe haven, they’ll do so in a heartbeat.

My bottom line is that I don’t believe pets should ever be left outside for extended periods without easy access to the inside of the house or screened porch at all times, whatever the weather.

I repeat: Dogs and cats are dependent on us for every little thing; they are meant to be members of the family. Ergo, would you leave your kids unattended in a sweltering car or out in the yard during a mini-tropical storm, even for a few minutes?

I hope to God no one answers "yes" to that question…