There are only two possible explanations for this stand I am about to take:
One, I have come around to my dog’s way of thinking on the matter of fireworks, which is that they are to be feared, freaked out by, and avoided at all costs, even if it means hiding in the bathtub.
Two, I have become a certifiable old fart.
Oh wait, there’s a third possibility: Maybe it’s a combination of the two.
I am speaking here of the entire gamut of fireworks, from big sanctioned municipal events to small backyard displays to solo performances by those who feel the need to mindlessly fire a gun into the air while intoxicated.
With New Year’s behind us, and the Fourth of July ahead, I pose the question: Do we really need any of it? And, if so, is it possible to have the spectacle without the noise?
There’s a town in Italy, called Collecchio, that has reportedly introduced legislation requiring people to use “silent fireworks” out of respect to animals, for whom the noise causes some serious stress.
That’s an idea worth importing.
Other than a reference on a travel website, I couldn’t find a lot of information about the proposal on the Internet. Then again, on the Internet, good and quiet ideas tend to get buried by loud, stupid and flashy ones.
Nor could I find any truly “silent” fireworks. There are a few videos on YouTube that claim to feature “silent” or “quiet” fireworks, but the companies behind them seem to be promising more than they are delivering.
In the UK, this past November, Birmingham Botanical Gardens offered a silent fireworks show they promised would be “ideal for the little ones,” but it was followed by complaints from parents who said they were forced to leave because the loud noises frightened their children, according to a BBC report.
Why is it society has been able to come up with the technology to put silencers on guns, but not on fireworks?
Fireworks have been an American tradition for more than 200 years, and any voice calling for putting a muzzle on them — much like any voice calling for gun control — is likely to be blasted as unpatriotic.
For dogs, they are more than just annoying. They confuse and stress out many dogs, often leading them to run away, sometimes getting hit by cars in the process. They have negative effects on birds and other animals, too, not to mention air quality and all the injuries to humans the do-it-yourself variety cause.
But the spectacle, and the tenuous link to patriotism, somehow rate as more important than all that.
Even in an age of heightened fears over terrorists, we still feel the need to see and hear the rockets red glare and the bombs bursting in air. We need to see and hear what is, in effect, a re-creation of war.
Fireworks displays are like Donald Trump — big and loud and in your face, full of bangs, booms and bombast, a spewing spectacle that prides itself in being outrageous and pushing the limits.
I would not mind in the least if they both went away. But neither is likely to, even though there are quieter, saner alternatives.
Laser light shows are one, but they don’t seem to have wowed us like traditional fireworks displays.
When an air pollution control district in California offered three towns $10,000 to call off their fireworks shows and replace them with laser light shows in 2012, none of the towns accepted the offer.
“You can’t have a Fourth of July show with just light beams,” one fair official said. “It would have been two minutes and the kids would have been done and gone.”
Another California town, Morro Bay, tried a light show in 2009 — due to predictions of a foggy night — but says it won’t do it again.
“It was like a bad Pink Floyd concert,” one official said.
I’m not sure there is such a thing as silent fireworks or, for that matter, such a thing as a bad Pink Floyd concert. But both my dog and I — while not being so brash as to suggest celebrating peace instead of war — cast a vote for quieter celebrations.
Here’s a not entirely quiet example, from a company that provides “quiet” fireworks for weddings and other events:
Posted by John Woestendiek January 11th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, celebrations, collecchio, dangers, displays, dog, dogs, environment, fireworks, fourth of july, guns, hazards, italy, loud, new years, noise, patriotism, pets, pollution, proposal, quiet fireworks, run away, silent fireworks, war
After hanging out with David Love and his pit bull, Kitty — during which time my dog waited in the car — I owed Ace some fun, so I stopped at a smokehouse outside Brookings to pick up something to eat, then looked for a scenic place to eat it.
I toted my lunch — smoked salmon, a hunk of cheddar cheese and a bowl of clam chowder — to the beach and found a weathered and washed up tree trunk that was big enough to seat us both.
Smoked salmon is my new favorite thing. It may even be better than cigarettes.
I nibbled and sipped my soup, tossing hunks of cheese and pieces of salmon, including all the skin, to Ace. The ocean roared. A cool westerly wind made my food wrappers, and Ace’s ears, flutter. The sandy beach sprawled before us, empty except for pieces of wood washed grey. The sun, finally, was out.
Between the lulling surf, the warming sun and the full belly, I decided a few horizontal minutes might be nice — and the log was big enough to oblige. I stretched out atop it. Ace sat at the other end. And I fell asleep, just for 15 minutes or so. When I woke up, Ace was still sitting at the end of the log, staring out at the ocean.
Sometimes, I can’t tell whether Ace likes a place or not. If there are loud noises, big crowds, strange sights, he gets a little jumpy. But this one seemed to suit him just fine.
He seemed, almost, to be thinking — about what I have no idea, maybe when are we going to get home, how much longer do I have to spend in this car, what has become of my life. As we near the six-month mark on our road trip, I’m thinking more and more that, exciting as all these new sights and scents have been, he wants some familar surroundings, a routine.
I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if he’s enjoying himself as we cross America — does he give a whit, for instance, about the kind of scenic beauty that Oregon’s coast showed us? Does he care so much about where he is, or only who he is with, and when that person might come through with some dinner?
I don’t know. But there, on that beach, at that moment, he seemed perfectly content.
I was too, and could have easily fallen back asleep on my log bed. Instead we got up and walked a ways and played chase and danced at the edge of the surf, eluding the incoming waves. He darted around and took in mouthfuls of sand, as he does when he’s at the beach.
We stopped in the first town, Crescent City, and spent the night in a room with the most badly stained carpet I’ve ever seen. Ace sniffs out every new room, but he spent even more time on this one — going from spot to spot for a good 15 minutes.
Then he jumped up on the bed with me.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 20th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animals, beach, brookings, chrissey state park, coast, coastal, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, logs, noise, ocean, oregon, pets, photography, quiet, rest, road trip, rocks, shore, sleep, smoked salmon, surf, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, waves
Owners of dogs that make “excessive noise ” could face fines of up to $250 a day under an ordinance approved yesterday by a Chicago City Council committee.
Excessive noise is defined in the proposed ordinance as “repeated or habitual barking, whining, crying, howling (and) whimpering,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
The law would apply to any animal, but the article doesn’t make clear whether that includes humans.
“It’s not an anti-dog thing,” said Alderman Patrick O’Connor, who co-sponsored the measure . “It’s not preventing dogs from being dogs. It just means that if you let your dog bark all day everyday, disturbing peace for people in the area, there’s a possibility now that police can do something.”
Under the law, the noise would have to occur continually for at least 10 minutes or intermittently for “a significant portion of the night.” It also would have to be louder than the average conversation at a distance of 100 feet or more. Complaints about a dog from three residents, from different addresses, could also trigger enforcement, leading to fines of $50 to $250.
O’Connor noted the two dogs who live at his home “could be the poster children for this ordinance — two small, little yappy dogs, but if I leave them out for hours on end, I’m an irresponsible dog owner.”
The ordinance still needs approval from the full City Council.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 2nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alderman, barking, barks, chicago, city council, complaints, crying, dogs, excessive, fines, howling, loud, noise, ordinance, patrick o'connor, proposal, proposed, whimpering, whining
With the thunder and lightning seeming to be nearly a daily occurence this week, here are some tips on helping your dog weather the storms.
Dogs’ fear of thunder can be a result of different factors. Some dogs may be genetically disposed to the problem, while others may have learned to be afraid of storms. Some may react mildly to them, some severely. Some — as with my dog Ace and fireworks — don’t develop the fear until they are 4 or 5 years old. As a result there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment, but here’s a look at some of them remedies being touted on the marketplace.
For starters, good old fashion cotton stuffed in the ears helps some, but make sure you don’t stuff it in so tightly and deeply it becomes stuck.
Some veterinarians suggest trying to desensitize the dog to thunder by playing a tape or CD with storm sounds, turning it on for a few seconds at a time, then increasing the increments, until the dog becomes conditioned to it.
Many theorize that it’s the static electricity and changes in barometric pressure that disturbs some dogs, which explains why they might get upset before the storm actually starts, or why they might head for the bathtub.
The “Storm Defender” — one of the solutions featured in the video above — is a product that claims to keep your dog from becoming anxious and destructive during a storm by putting him in a cape made of metallic fabric. It’s makers say it disperses the static electricity that builds up before a storm and may make a dog feel unsettled.
Other versions of canine ”thunderwear” are available, ranging from earmuffs and head halters to swaddling attire that can help calm stressed-out dogs.
Other remedies include medication, such as anti-anxiety drugs — the canine versions of Xanax of Prozac — that are becoming increasingly prescribed by veterinarians. Some suggest the herbal form of Valium, valerian, or dog appeasing pheromones.
Beyond that, the advice is much the same as it is for the Fourth of July – turn on the television, stay home, play music, let the dog stay close, but don’t coddle , and above all, don’t scold.
For even more tips and background, check out this Associated Press story.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 13th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: barometric pressure, care, cotton, desensitize, disturbed, dogs, drugs, electricity, fear, health, loud, medication, noise, remedies, safety, solutions, static, storm defender, storms, thunder, thunderwear, tips, treatment, upset
So, if there’s no deep meaning behind barks (not that we buy that study), how do you explain this?
Japanese toymaker Takara Tomy is coming out with a new “Bowlingual” gadget that can translate dog barks into the human language, AFP reports.
The new model analyzes six emotions, including joy, sadness and frustration, and speaks phrases such as “Play with me!” — an improvement on the original which just showed them on a screen.
The original version of the toy, which has a handset and a microphone attached to a dog collar, won the Ig Nobel Prize in 2002. The awards, a parody of the Nobel Prizes, celebrate achievements that make people laugh and think.
The new Bowlingual Voice, priced at about $212, will be launched in Japan next month, Yamada said.
Initially, it will be only available in Japanese. The original non-speaking version is also available in English and Korean.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 23rd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bark, barking, barks, bowlingual, dog, dogs, gadget, human, language, meaning, noise, sounds, studies, takara tomy, toy, translate, translating, words
With the Fourth of July approaching, it’s time once again for a few reminders, most of which we all already know, but, as they say, better safe than sorry.
First off, make sure your dog is wearing identification tags — even if you’re both planning a quiet evening at home.
Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) has issued a reminder that even animals not inclined to roam may uncharacteristically do so amid the bangs and booms. Animal shelters across the country are accustomed to receiving a surge of “Independence Day” dogs — so make sure your’s is carrying the information needed to get him or her back to you.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 2nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 4th, akc, american kennel club, dog, dogs, fear, fireworks, fourth, health, july, loud, noise, safe, safety, scare, startle, tips
The city Friday submitted plans that include broadcasting the sound of barking dogs for use if and when it is ordered to stop harbor seals from congregating at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool beach, where their numbers have raised health concerns and precluded children’s play.
A lawsuit against the city claims the seals’ presence violates the terms of the 1913 trust that established the beach as a safe wading area for children. Attorneys representing the plaintiff filed a motion last week asking that the seals be immediately dispersed. The lawsuit was filed not against the seals, or Mother Nature, but against the city.
If the order comes, according to the La Jolla Light, the city would use loudspeakers to broadcast the sound of barking dogs to attempt to disperse the seals. Other steps outlined include having employees or contractors harass the seals from afar, possibly spraying water at them.
The plan, at an estimated cost of $688,934, would require personnel to walk the beach from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week for a year, .
(Note to the city of San Diego: Ace and I hereby volunteer for that contract; for half that price, we’d even be willing to camp there at night. Ace would bark at seals and act intimidating, while I would patrol the shore, saying, “Move along now, seals, nothing to see here.”)
The plan submitted to the court also includes steps to protect the public, noting that dispersing the seals “has a high potential to create an environment requiring a police response.” It includes facilitating traffic flow, monitoring demonstrations, keeping the peace and responding to calls. Animal welfare activists have spoken out against evicting the seals.
For a closer look at the plan, you can find it on a council member’s website.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 25th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: activists, animal welfare, bark, beach, california, case, childrens pool, court, disperse, environment, filed, harass, harbor seals, la jolla, lawsuit, loudspeaker, nature, noise, plan, san diego, seals, wildlife