(Thunder!) Storm?

This is just a quick post, because I’m so sorry for not writing more lately. It has been a difficult period. It has been a busy period. It has been a painful period. It has been, well, a lot. Still, I committed to this blog and I’d like to make it a goal to post something at least once a week. I wanted to write something ambitious like “every day” or “every 48 hours”, but I’ve failed enough in the past years; I’d rather pass this goal with flying colors than look back and wince at my audacity after such a long lapse.

So, here’s a story with the following theme: Meg Feels Kind Of Silly.

My service dog’s name is Stormlight, and her nickname is Storm (and if this is news to you, my communication skills thus far have been so bad as to be almost masterfully atrocious).  When I named her, I had no idea that she was afraid of thunder. Yup: my unshakeable service dog in training is terrified of thunderstorms. She’s fine with construction, plenty of noises that make me want to crawl into a soundproof sleeping bag and put a closed sign out for the day seem to be no big deal for her, but thunder is the scariest thing she’s ever heard. She quivers, the whole dog shaking, and squishes close to me. I tried to distract her with forced cheerfulness and her dinner today, as it fell right when she was supposed to eat, and it didn’t really work; I ended up giving her a blanket to hide under because I knew that holding her and comforting her myself would only reinforce that this was a scary thing and this was how we all needed to behave around the scary thing (and the blanket seemed to make her feel safe, so my heart stopped breaking).  Seeing my brave dog so scared is hard and makes me feel helpless, just like the breathing things she’s been having (more on that later).  She’s there for me when I’m scared, alert and calm and keeping me steady, and I wish I could figure out what would do that for her.

My fellow dog people, what has worked for you?  It’s hard to imagine how you could desensitize a dog to thunder, since you can’t control proximity or timing of exposure and it is one of those things for which a recording just doesn’t do it. My dad has a theory that since she’s from Alabama and thunderstorms are far more intense there it’s something about that that reduces this fearless dog to a quivering pup, though we both know it’s also just a common fear for dogs.

And I, genius that I am, named her Storm. It’s like if my parents named me Spider.

This is one of those moments when I hope Storm doesn’t catch on to the meaning of this particular word…


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