Back in 1989 I had the pleasure of visiting Phoenix for the first time while driving my mother and her friend to Las Vegas.
As we hit the big city all of a sudden the sky opened and a torrential downpour began. It happened so fast that the water was backing up in the streets and soon traffic was at a standstill.
We tried to open our car doors put the pressure from the water which was up above our tires, prohibited us from opening them.
I had no idea what was happening, but I knew my best bet was to pull into a Circle K and ride out the storm.
The winds were amazing, the thunder and lightning was incredible. The rain came down sideways and by the buckets.
Yes, I had read the book about Chicken Little many times to my children and was wondering if the “sky was really falling.”
Sitting in the car waiting for the storm to end, I imagined a nice cool breeze to be blowing upon completion just like after a storm in Ohio.
Needless to say, I was shocked beyond belief when we were able to get out of the car. Cool breeze? This was the Arizona dry heat? What were people thinking?
It was as if the entire outdoors had turned into a sauna. Upon entering the store and speaking with the cashier, I learned that we had just experienced our first Arizona monsoon.
After moving to Flagstaff a few years later I really learned about monsoons. To my amazement, at times there isn’t even any rain. Instead we get a violent dry storm showing Mother Nature at her finest.
Since the official start of the monsoons has started, it’s time for me to put a reminder out to everyone about protecting their pets during this time of year.
Have you ever noticed that dogs seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to storms? The skies don’t have to be full of dark clouds and rain doesn’t have to be falling for your dog to tell you a storm is coming.
Often the weather man will say that there is a chance of a storm, but the only that really can deliver an accurate forecast is Honey, our Golden Retriever.
Some say that our canine friends are “storm sensitive” due to the drops in barometric pressure of the atmosphere.
Another rationalization is that there are changes in the static electric fields that humans can’t detect that alert dogs to approaching storms.
Others say that our dogs hear the storm due to the fact that they can hear at a much higher and much lower frequencies than humans do.
Experts can give all types of reasons, but whatever the reason may be most animals are very sensitive to storms.
At our house the dogs begin to pace and often whine. They also begin to whimper and be clingy. Not to mention easily agitated with one another.
Not all of us are at home with our pets during the day. This can be a real issue during the monsoon season.
If you have to work and the storm season is upon us, make sure you make the right provisions for your animals.
The best idea is to keep your pets indoors. During storm season make sure that secure their area to keep them from damaging something when they get frightened.
If your dog has to stay outside while you are gone, make sure that your dog has a safe haven to hide in as the storm approaches.
Even though your pet should always have adequate protection, you may need to step it up a notch when monsoon season arrives.
Placing his crate in a protected area may help ease his tension and fears if you don’t have a doggie door.
Purchase a dog house and place it close to your own home in a protected area so he feels somewhat safe until you arrive home.
Secure his water bucket in a manner that it can withstand the terrible wind gusts. Protect his haven from the elements.
Never tie him up in the yard. Out of fear he may get choked on the tangled chain and harm himself.
If your pet is in the house, it may be necessary to isolate him in a specific area. If he is crate trained and wants to go in, let him but don’t make him.
It’s important for you to not over react to the storm. My little brother that is 50 years old probably still hides on the steps thanks to a babysitter he had when he was small.
Some people try to ease their pets’ fears by playing a thunderstorm CD quietly during a calm time of the day. This has been known to ease fears when a storm does arrive.
Get a grip with your fears and do your very best to keep in touch with your reactions. If you are calm it may help your pet during this difficult time.
If you gasp and grab the kitchen chair while slightly screaming as the lightning strikes, your pet is going to think he really has something to be afraid of.
Try to distract him when the lightning is striking and the thunder is roaring. Play in a secluded area with his favorite toys or even something you like. Use this as a bonding time for both of you.
I have been told that some of you place cotton balls in your pet’s ears. This is done to muffle the noise. Shutting the curtains and turning up the TV is done by others.
Don’t try to over protect him. Using baby talk and fussing over him will just encourage him to continue the same behavior. This is not what you want to achieve.
If your pet is outside please make sure that he has current ID just in case he escapes trying to avoid the storm. Many animals will stop at nothing to get out of a loud storm.
If your pet is in severe distress, contact your veterinarian. They do make medicines to help pets cope with their fears.
Fear of storms can be a serious condition if “storm time” only. This gives your pet something positive to focus on. He will learn to associate something special with a storm.