Last night, it took a long time for me to fall asleep because I left my window open and jumped at small noises. The open window was a necessity because of the heat, but every couple of minutes I tensed up, certain that I was hearing the pop-pop-pop of firecrackers in the distance, and at any second, my dog Pilot would jump up from his position on my bed to howl his displeasure.
I didn’t always live in fear of fireworks. I still think they’re pretty in small doses on very rare occasions as long as I know when they’re going to start and stop. I realize that much structure is anathema to the idea of fireworks, but if you’re a pet owner in a dense part of the city, then you know my pain.
It’s not just my dogs who go nuts and panic when there are explosions in the sky. I live in a neighborhood where nearly every house has a dog, and most have two or more. The ‘Twilight Bark‘ from 101 Dalmatians is something that happens every hour. Once one canine picks up the call, they all have to contribute, whether the news is about that strange person getting into a car, or a strange dog walking down the block, or the mail carrier who shouldn’t be a stranger to anyone. There’s a cacophony when a motorcycle drives by, when FedEx pulls up, when the tree trimmers arrive.
And the gardeners, oh, how they hate the gardeners.
So imagine, if you will, how my dogs react when the sky starts falling. It’s not just the ceaseless barking or inability to settle down and go back to sleep, but the high-pitched whining as if my dogs are saying, “Why don’t you understand, I have to get out in the yard and fight these monsters with my voice! I mean, I’m doing it for your sake, geez.”
If this was one night out of the year, I could deal. I’d do my best to comfort my furry cowards, and relax somewhat with the knowledge that it would be over soon for another 364 days. But I live in West Hollywood, and the use of fireworks has turned into abuse. We have fireworks on Christmas. On New Year’s. On Memorial Day. At ball games. For premieres. And I spend the entire week before Independence Day a nervous wreck thanks to neighbors who’ve smuggled in the illegal stuff and think it’s great fun to set them off at random hours of the day.
Fireworks can be pretty, but I have three dogs, and I’ll probably never really enjoy the display again. And one day, someone is going to get shot around here and no one will realize it because the Grove is celebrating Nordstrom’s reopening.