It starts with a tiny whimper, a small murmur barely audible to our human ears. The slight quaking of Amore’s front fore legs is, at first, scarcely discernible underneath her thick feathery fur. Amore’s apprehension and anxiety quickly escalates into deep, heavy panting and full body tremors, along with wide-eyed panic and fright. All caused by thunder. Thunder and lightning.
Up until a year ago, Amore would sleep right through the loud clashing of thunder. Up until a year ago, the rumble of thunderstorms, the whip of lightning didn’t bother her. Up until a year ago, Amore was fine with the summer storms that rolled over our high desert. Today it’s a different story.
Today, Amore’s fear from the loud crack of lightning sends her into terrifying distress. Today, her terror and fear of a storm can last long after the billowing dark clouds have passed. It’s heartrending to witness. Her terror and anguish is agonizing to watch. We’ve tried everything. Thunder shirts, calming music, distractions, car drives. We have read articles and books and talked to experts to learn how to minimize and/or eliminate her fear. Nothing seems works but to wait it out, giving her time to calm down while the tempest blows by.
July marks the start of our monsoon season and right on cue, our monsoon rains came within days after the calendar flipped to the seventh month. This Fourth of July weekend brought a series of rains, cool relief from the hot temperatures of summer. But with the rains came thunder and lightning, and on it’s heels, came Amore’s shaking and rapid breathing, her anxiety palatable. By late Sunday afternoon another storm was rolling through, the growl and grumble of thunder far in the background was faint and distant. Amore’s keen hearing distinguished the thunder. Fear gathered in her brown eyes as she quickly recognized the rumble. The tremors already starting as terror locked in on her body.
Malcolm and I instinctively knew this time it was going to be a bad one. Malcolm hurried to retrieve the thunder shirt as I went towards Amore. Before I could reach her shaking frame, before I could take two steps forward, Dolce was already there besides Amore, offering her comfort and love.
As obvious dog lovers, Malcolm and I understand the joy and comfort dogs give humans. We know how rehab dogs can help patients heal, both physically and mentally. We are aware that canines can sense the onset of seizures and depression and assist their owners. Dogs give and give and give and give some more to their loved ones. They are a comfort to our soul, a balm to our weary hearts. They can pack more smiles in the wag of their tail then a kid in a candy store. Loyal, a trusted companion, without judgement, they are man’s best friend. We understand why god made a dog.
So when Malcolm and I saw Dolce come along side of Amore, leaning against her to give relief, we froze in place to observe. We watched in awe as Dolce nudged her litter mate, reassuring Amore that all would be okay. We watched Dolce as she licked away at Amore’s mental fear and pain. We watched Dolce place a gentle paw on a quivering Amore to calm her, soothe her. Dolce’s paw stayed on Amore shoulder for over ten minutes before the shaking began to still. We watched Dolce lean against her sister for more than a half-hour, easing Amore’s anguish, absorbing her fear. We watched Dolce give peace to her sibling. Watching Dolce give comfort, we understand why god made a dog.
So God made a dog……
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