Be thoughtful of scared animals when using fireworks


I love dogs.
I have always loved dogs, but my fondness for them has only grown over the years. My wife and I rescue bully breed dogs and they are simply wonderful family members.
We lost my best buddy Mason last year, a big guy we had rescued while we lived in California. His “sister” Parker, who we adopted in Minnesota, went the year before him.
Of the three dogs we brought with us from California, only Zander is still with us. He is a Staffordshire bull terrier, even though everyone thinks he is a pit bull. Our little girl Dyna, rescued since we have lived in Rockford, is a pit bull and the most precious little doll ever.
Zander is a senior dog now, and he certainly has his issues. One of them will be on full display over the next few days as people set off fireworks almost around the clock.
He will be a terrified mess.
Sure, many people love to watch fireworks, but many animals – especially dogs – are scared to the point of not being able to really function once the loud popping starts. Zander is a fun, sweet boy with a great personality. But if he hears a thunderstorm, he tucks his tail, trembles and paces for hours. Fireworks are much the same.
But thunderstorms can't be helped. This time of year we, along with other nervous dog owners, just accept the fact that we will have some sleepless nights as our dogs will be up because they are terribly frightened.
Fireworks, of course, aren't an act of nature. Like many people, I enjoy a good fireworks show and have since I was a kid. Fireworks shows are a traditional part of celebrating July 4 and are great for the entire family.
We stay home on July 4 to make sure our terrified dog doesn't get too destructive and to give him some comfort. We accept that as part of having him in our family.
The problem comes in the weeks after July 4, when people who have purchased fireworks start to randomly have their own displays in their backyard. These impromptu explosions can send neighboring dogs into a panic.
When we lived in Schaumburg, there was a school behind our house. The playground and ball field areas were a popular place for local teens to go out and set off fireworks pretty much all summer. The police did what they could, but it is impossible to keep a watch out 24/7, and we understood that. But that didn't make it any better for scared dogs in the area, including ours. And when we are gone and fireworks go off, Zander can get panicked to the point of hurting himself.
I encourage people to be mindful of those around them when it comes to fireworks. Not everyone wants to hear the loud bangs and pops that come with fireworks for the rest of the summer. Please, go out on the Fourth and enjoy a big display with your family. It can be a ton of fun.
But if you want to set off your own, go to a place not near homes so you don't bother our four-legged friends who don't appreciate the loud popping as much as you do.