Friday, March 16, 2012


[For perspective, read my previous post before reading this entry.
These two events took place less than two hours apart.]

Last night about 7:15 a powerful thunderstorm came through our town.
It produced some of the most significant lightening I have seen in a while.
I like watching thunderstorms, and, since I did not have anything pressing to occupy my time, I turned off all the lights in the house and watched the light show outside through the windows, and from my covered back porch.

I was also curious how Sally the Great Pyrenees Mountain Fluff Pile would respond to the storm.
From previous observations, it seemed that she was not particularly bothered by thunderstorms.
In times past, I have watched her lay around in the yard as the wind picked up and the rain started, seemingly unconcerned by the environment.
When the rain became heavier, she retreated to her dog house to wait out the excitement.
So, amid my personal observation of the approaching storm last night, I took occasional peeks at Sally in the back yard.

The lightening was spectacular and the thunder was impressive, with deep, overlapping rumbles, booms, bangs going off all around us.
Finally, the rain changed from a light drizzle to a heavy downpour.
Sally went from her snuggle spot against the back of my house into her house to watch.
But apparently the lightening was too much for her.

As I watched, she bolted from her house out into the heavy rain to her napping spot in the southwest corner of the yard.
There is no protection from rain there so in a second or two, she raced across the yard to the northeast corner, another one of her favorite spots to nap sometimes.
No escape there, either.
At this point, I could stand this no longer.
I opened the back door just enough to stick my head out and began calling and whistling to her to come in.

Amid the racket of rain and thunder, it took a few long seconds for her to hear me, but when she did, she came to me.
I got a towel and wiped her off.
It was clear that she was excited and distressed and it took a minute or two for her to settle down.
But finally, she laid down on the floor next to my work table, about three feet from the back door (now closed).
I opened the curtains so we could watch the excitement outside, and I sat down on the floor next to her.
I gave her a few scratches around her ears (contrary to what Cesar Milan and his disciples say to do in this kind of situation, this seemed to help calm her....) and sat still and mostly silent.

I say mostly silently because I could not help muttering occasional comments about the jagged streaks of light that were lighting up the dark sky.
(in fairness to Cesar, I purposefully remained mostly still, quiet and calm, as he suggests, to allow her to sense my calm “energy” in spite of the distressing environment outside, which seemed to work as he describes.)

I laid my hand on the floor between us (we were about six inches apart) and she skooched herself so that one of her front paws was under my hand and the other was halfway covering a couple of my fingers.
We sat quietly in the dark and watched the light show together.

She calmed down and laid her head next to my hand – within tongues reach, and occasionally licked my hand.

This reminded me of my former dog, Woof.
He was a big country mutt (I suspect he was part Great Pyrenees because of the shape of his ears and his heavy fur – especially in winter) that for his heroic antics in good weather, was afraid of thunderstorms.
Woof never liked to be inside a building.
He never came into our house.
But when a thunderstorm came, I let him into our small back porch room, and he would lie on the floor next to the freezer to wait out the storm.
Many times I would sit there in the dark with him for a few minutes.

So last night, with such memories in my head, Sally and I shared a special time together.
We sat/laid in the darkness, watching the storm outside for about an hour.

I had the feeling that it was a life-changing event for my dog.
While I may be over-estimating its effect, I suspect that she will feel differently about me from now on.
When things settled down outside, I invited her to go out, reluctantly, she went.

While I would have liked for her to remain in the house (even all night), she is still a puppy and wants to constantly play with me.
And playing for her means biting my hands, legs and feet.
I am sick of that, and did not want to change our quiet time together into a nose-slapping “NO!” session. (Which is exactly what happened between us when I went out into the back yard with her after dinner tonight – see previous posts.)

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