The soft glowing light of the alarm clock says 3:42 a.m. The low hum of the air conditioner kicking on is followed by the soft hiss of air beginning to come through the vent in the corner. The bed feels soft beneath me, the blanket warm and sleep is quickly calling me back to the land of dreams, but there’s something else. Something that has jarred me from my much-needed REM cycle after an evening at work.
Suddenly, it all becomes clear. Claws on carpet, pawing and scratching, as if in search of some long lost treasure. But then, it happens… with a clunk and a loud chain-reaction crash.
All the shoes on my seven-tiered rack are now on the floor! And it’s 3:30 in the morning! I manage a sleepy whimper.
Then, a deafening bang, but this one comes from outside. BOOM! CRACK! And soon, from behind the closed blinds the sky lights up and quickly goes dark again.
Soon, the plops, drops, splatters and drips of a torrential downpour are heard on the rooftop overhead. And that’s when I know that I won’t be getting back to sleep for a while, prompting another whimper.
It’s all because my terrified Golden Retriever is quaking with fear at my bedside, shaking like a leaf about to plummet to the ground on a brisk fall day.
Now, Camellia – my 65ish-pound, caramel-colored Golden Retriever – is scared of just about everything. And, I’m not even kidding about that! EVERYTHING! But, it’s thunderstorms that are her main nemesis.
The first sign of darkening clouds and some low grumbles of thunder in the distance can send this girl’s best friend into a fit of fright only rivaled by that of the girl in the horror movie who makes the ill-advised trip back up the stairs to certain waiting death.
In addition to the toppling of my shoe rack and clawing at the carpet to try and dig a hole to hide in, Camellia’s fear of storms has led to other destruction and disarray. This includes the tearing apart of cardboard storage boxes and plastic bags, the doggy drool all over my collection of stuffed Eeyores, all the tipped over house plants, and the unplugging of wires so she doesn’t get tangled in them.
To sum it up, Camellia turns completely spastic. From the frantic panting to the endless search for a hiding place, from the basement to behind the end table to behind the powder room toilet to under the coffee table to trying to stuff herself under my bedroom chair and there’s always the space beneath the spare bedroom bookcase, too.
It breaks my heart to see her that scared, and it’s also led to some restless stormy nights.
Oh, and she also knows the sound of the robotic voice that reads the forecast on The Weather Channel. Yep, you read that right. She knows the voice, the background music, and the severe weather alert sounds. Maybe, we just watch too much TV at my house!
It could be a sunny day out, but turn on The Weather Channel just to check out the radar or for the temperature, and look out! Camellia goes into a tizzy. But, that’s what the mute button is for!
Now, I know what you’re thinking, what about tranquilizers or that Thundershirt thingy. Well, we’ve been through them all. Different doses of drugs and the online ordering of the above mentioned Thundershirt, and while they have worked for many a dog, not Camellia.
Therefore, when Mother Nature decides to rain down her terror on my poor pup, all we can do is give her a reassuring pat on the head, scratch behind her ears and try to keep her calm until the storm passes and her shaking panic dissipates.
But, anything for her. She’s that important. If you’ve ever had a pet, you understand. They’re family. And Camellia’s my family, intense fear of thunderstorms and all.
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