NJ water rescue of dog, amid fireworks rumor, a lesson for owners
This might be the ultimate happy ending story for a dog scared to death and it serves as a lesson for all us dog owners.
In Union Beach on Sunday, a pet dog jumped into the Raritan Bay and swam a mile and a half and needed to be rescued.
Caiden is a 10-year-old Siberian Husky who “was in distress after separating from his owner,” according to the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s Officers Kasey Collins and Michael Forgione deployed in a boat and pulled the scared animal from the water.
There had been a wide-spread rumor that the rescue actually happened a bit later that day, during the community's Fourth of July fireworks display — which the Sheriff's Office said was incorrect.
But it's a reminder that you never know how a dog might react to fireworks. I’ve had dogs that were fine one year then traumatized the next. But there are some simple things you can do to keep them calm and safe during these celebrations.
Ways to keep your dog safe and calm during fireworks
Leave them home
The most obvious thing? Just don’t bring them. You’d be amazed how many people bring their dogs to the sensory overload of a public fireworks display only to be shocked when the dog has an anxious breakdown or outright runs away.
In case your dog DOES run off, keep them safe ahead of time by making sure they’re microchipped and have a gps device.
Give them a ‘cave’
Creating a safe pace in your home goes a long way. Think in terms of replicating a cave by using an interior windowless closet or their own dog crate tucked away somewhere dark and cozy.
My dog Finn was crate trained and he loves his crate to this day, using it like his own personal bedroom.
Walk them, walk them, walk them. A long, hard walk before fireworks begin later that night can exercise your dog and wear them out in a healthy way so they’re naturally calmer when the booms come.
Desensitization can go a long way. Start by playing at low volume the sounds of fireworks. Loud enough for them to hear it but quiet enough that they’re not overwhelmed.
As they tolerate the noise give them treats so they mentally associate something good with the unpleasant sound.
White noise can go a long way. A white noise machine can drown out the explosions just enough to take the edge off. If you don’t have a white noise machine then any constant sound like leaving a television on.
Ask a vet
Talk to your vet about a medication. Sure it may sound silly, but they have stuff now that dogs can benefit from. If you’re hesitant they even make over the counter dog calming treats now.
Another therapeutic idea is a pressure vest for anxiety. It might be the only day of the year they’d like one but the hugging pressure on their bodies calms a dog like a hug from you.
Editor's note: A previous version of this said that the dog rescued in Union Beach had been scared by fireworks — the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office has said that is incorrect.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.
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