Now is the Time for All Good Humans to Come to the Aid of the Petrified

Surprise!

It’s a bonus mini-blog, for you, Bored Surfer, to read, enjoy and then share your new-found knowledge with everyone you encounter.

What, you may be wondering, could possibly warrant an extra edition of BLOG blog? According to timeanddate.com, June 18 is International Panic Day. It is also listed as International Picnic Day, so perhaps one of those is a typo, or perhaps you are meant to sit down for your picnic lunch and then panic because it is raining, or there are wasps in your soda or your picnic basket grew mutant mushrooms since its last use. In any case, I’m opting for Panic Day, and would like to offer you some suggestions for how best to observe this obscure holiday.

 If you are already predisposed to a level of panic that involves running around in circles and wringing your hands while shouting incoherently, please take your (prescribed level of) Xanax before continuing. For those of you fortunate enough to find the previous sentence completely unrelateable, pause for a moment to congratulate yourself on the composure of you and your loved ones and then continue reading.

On most occasions, panic is to be avoided. On an individual basis, it is not conducive to logical thought. On a larger scale, it can be contagious and dangerous. Today, I will attempt to inspire just a tiny iota of panic centered around one aspect of one particular topic – noise phobias.

In the central section of North America, storm season is already in full swing. It usually starts around April and lasts until September. Certain areas are prone to frequent thunderstorms and the occasional tornado. Contrary to popular belief, cyclones occur in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, not in Kansas (diffen.com/difference/cyclone_vs_tornado). This should be readily apparent, as tornadoes are known for destruction, not transporting people (and Cairn Terriers) to other, more colorful, worlds. 

Even if it is not storm season in your neck of the woods, there may be another noxious noise source in your near future. If you live in the US, Independence Day is approaching, which means it is time for your neighbors to go blow money on things to blow up. (If you live in another country, Danke, Merci, Gracias for making BLOG blog an international sensation! Please keep reading, just adjust the dates to your country’s holidays.) 

Let’s face it – explosions are cool to watch. Crowds gather when a building is brought down or when a new action movie opens. I’m not sure why – perhaps it’s the noise, the destruction, the excitement of potential disaster, or the idea of matter abruptly changing form (after all, sublimation is also cool). While many people are content observing an explosion from a safe distance, there are those who want a more direct role. These persons (frequently young males who still consider themselves invincible because they still have all their fingers) have a few annual opportunities to engage in detonations, and are compelled to do so. 

Listening to explosions is another matter altogether. Rarely does anything good come from sudden loud noises, especially in nature. Animals instinctively know this, so they tend to avoid artillery ranges and horror movies that rely solely on jump scares instead of building an overwhelming sense of dread. Unfortunately, there are people who relish loud sounds, which results in an all-out assault on the eardrums of everyone in the vicinity. This includes you and your beloved pet, to whom I shall refer (using the German word for thunder) as Donner the thunder dog (or cat, or flying reindeer).

Please use this day to panic (just a little) about Donner’s mental health. Do not wait until July 3rd to call your vet asking for meds to protect Donner’s sanity. Take action as soon as possible. If Donner is already stressing, pacing, hiding or trying to burrow into your armpit, please contact your vet. It is going to get worse.

If you have a Donner, there are many different actions that can be taken to help him cope. Some of them can be enacted immediately, such as providing a place where she feels safe. It may be the kennel, the recliner in your basement man cave, under the couch, in the bathtub, your closet or under the covers on your bed.  They often want company, and may respond well to calming classical music (not the 1812 Overture). Reward Donner for being calm in the midst of a cacophony, with delightful treats, if she is willing to eat. No one should go hungry at Donner’s party. (Groan if you must, but you knew that joke was coming.)

Some Donners respond well to the Thundershirt or some other form of gentle compression, but some don’t.  Soothing pheromones and supplements are available, but results may vary.  You will have to find out, through trial and error, what works for your particular Donner.

Desensitization, usually in the form of subjecting Donner to gradually increasing levels of the offending sound, is a long, slow process. It’s too late for this year, but you can think about starting it for next year, after the great 4th of July arms race is over.

If Donner needs a little (or a lot) of pharmaceutical assistance, it is best to start in advance. The effects of psychoactive medications vary between individuals. You cannot always predict how any particular Donner will respond to any particular drug. Ideally, you try a low dose and see how Donner responds, and adjust from there. It may take multiple attempts to find the ideal dose. The first choice of medications may not be effective; another drug may need to be substituted or added. For Donner’s sake, please start this process now. Do not wait until the bombardment is at its height and your neighbor is taunting you with that damn trumpet.

Farewell for now, Bored Surfer.

Dr. Debbie Appleby