Among the several reasons to enjoy July 4 in the United States is the calm that comes about when this country takes a collective recess from work. Not a collective meditative calm, which is hard to even imagine, but at least a recreational calm.
Everyone’s playing. Or eating. Or chilling. Or whatever.
To be sure, the commutes are light. And there’s a welcome stillness in the air.
Which makes tonight all the worse. That stillness – not to appear overly dramatic here, but that’s the calm before the storm.
Tonight’s fireworks are going to create an unfathomable amount of duress across wildlife communities and of course among domestic animals. We all know dogs and cats who run and hide at the sound of the first firework, some who shake uncontrollably for hours.
Surely many pigs and chickens and cows suffer likewise, though being out of sight, their plight is unnoticed. It’s not hard to imagine that many animals in laboratories are adversely affected, too.
“Ralphie” the buffalo mascot of the University of Colorado will be trotted out for the amusement of the crowd at tonight’s event at the campus stadium. Buffalo and bison are known to be highly sensitive to sound.
I remember seeing a fox absolutely disoriented and terrified outside the stadium at a celebration many years back. She somehow found herself in the middle of the huge crowd of people agog at the flashing lights and loud bangs. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an animal so alone.
The companion animals inside our homes are the best off. They are less likely to get physically hurt. They won’t be running into traffic or fleeing blindly into the night.
Those who are terrorized or made anxious by fireworks may be helped by wrapping a towel or sheet around them (or using the popular Thundershirt, which operates on the same principle).
Some will benefit from pharmaceuticals or natural remedies.
Many will benefit if you close your windows and turn up the volume a bit on whatever it is they like hearing. Keep them busy. Keep them inside.
Tomorrow Facebook, Nextdoor.com and other sites will be rife with reports of lost and found animals. Animal shelters will see an increase in the number of lost animal companions. (If you’re in CO or TX, you can use the Animal Help Now website or phone app for guidance if you find or lose a companion animal.)
I feel, too, for the veterans and others among us humans for whom fireworks are traumatic.
I know how I sound, but give me a magic wand, and I won’t make fireworks go away; I’ll make them enjoyable for everyone.
Such wands being in short supply, I’ll hope for the best tonight, and I will welcome tomorrow’s light, though with the sad knowledge that our celebrations resulted in so much trauma to our animal friends – domestic and wild, alike – and in countless of their lives being lost or shattered.