Canine Stress

It has been a stressful summer for our dogs, Mike and Goose. It isn’t the performance of the stock market or the disappointing job numbers or even Washington’s inability to reach any kind of consensus, though I am certain those things weigh heavy on their minds. The stress in our house has been primarily caused by the weather, more specifically the multitude of thunderstorms.It began earlier in the summer with a brief but very violent storm that hit Chicago. The storm knocked down big trees all over the city which in turn took down whatever stood in their way: a fence, a car, a garage or power lines. Bob and I were among the 600,000 people who lost power.

When the power goes out in our home the carbon monoxide detectors emit a sort of chirping signal. Unbeknownst to us, this noise sounds to dogs much like messages warning of the apocalypse. The first of such warnings, I mean chirps, came at 3:15 that morning and I immediately had two large trembling canines on my chest weighing in at about 140lbs total. I slipped out from beneath my protectors and removed the battery from the offending detector, but over the course of that night there were two more detectors that sent them reeling again. When the power finally went back on the three detectors began to chirp again (this time for lack of batteries) which prompted both dogs to try to climb inside my clothes.

Woman with two dogs on bed

That was, thankfully, the only time out power got knocked out this summer, but Chicago has had an unusually large number of extremely thunderous and very lightening-y storms this summer. Mike, being the eldest, reacts to both thunder and lightening in a protective manner. He barks at both and generally behaves as if he would like to kick some storm ass. While I appreciate the sentiment, it is disconcerting if not jarring to have him bark each time the thunder claps or lightening flashes especially at 2:00am. The other side effect of Mike’s protective barking is that it sends an already nervous Goose over the edge. Goose, who will pace and pant at the first thunder boom, begins to tremble as Mike tells the storm to bring it. The more violent the storm the closer the dogs want to be to me and while I am glad that I represent comfort and safety, my boys are not lap dogs and sometimes comforting them in downright painful.

Woman with two dogs on a couch
Woman hugging two dogs

Enter the Thundershirt, an ingenious t-shirt for dogs that claims to help calm them in stressful scenarios. The Thundershirt comes in varied colors and sizes and being optimistic consumers, albeit comletely sleep deprived after the last 3:00am storm, Bob and I went out and got a couple for our boys.

Honestly, the miracle Thundershirt does not completely eliminate Goose’s and Mike’s storm related anxiety, but it is greatly reduced. This could be either because the Thundershirt people are geniuses or because any anxiety Mike and Goose feel from a thunderstorm is overshadowed by the humiliation they feel wearing these:

Two dogs with clothes on