Storm causes Minnie crisis

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 2, 2011

Whoops—looks like I did everything wrong.

One day, my daughter’s miniature pinscher Minnie lounged luxuriously in the big green recliner in my living room. She lay across it with one hind leg extending to the arm of the chair, sleeping peacefully, as I slipped into the room and sat down in my recliner.

It was time for my afternoon break. I settled in with a book in my hand and a glass of ice tea on the end table beside me. I was on the verge of nodding off when I heard a soft rumble. Instantly Minnie righted herself in the chair, her ears on alert. She sat very still, waiting. I heard it again, another rumble, louder this time. Suddenly Minnie was beside me in my chair, pushing close to me.

As the thunder moved closer and became more pronounced, Minnie jammed her body against mine. I heard heavy raindrops pounding and was thankful. We definitely needed rain. But Minnie was not happy. I realized her beautiful little body was shaking. She buried her head against my hand and left it there as the thunderstorm raged on.

I remembered my daughter had mentioned that she needed to get some kind of a blanket that was supposed to soothe dogs frightened of thunder. She said “Minnie gets crazy when it thunders, Mom.” Actually, I thought it might be a bit of an extravagance—why couldn’t you just wrap Minnie in any blanket when thunder scared her.

Minutes later, Minnie wasn’t only trembling with fear; she was heavily puffing for breath. Besides that, the little creature felt so hot I wondered if she might be feverish. Nevertheless, with that thunder blanket in mind, I reached over on my couch and got a small throw. I wrapped her in it as I cooed soothing words to her. It didn’t calm her at all. I realized that the throw was making her hotter, so I quickly removed it and we snuggled back in the chair together. She was at a point of such anxiety I worried that she might flop over with a stroke or heart attack. I continued to speak soothing words to her. They did not work. I felt frustrated that I couldn’t help her.

I took her to the kitchen where I offered her some water. She turned away from it and jammed herself against my legs. Minnie wanted back in my arms. I obliged her. We curled up in my recliner again. She shivered and shook. I crooned more assurances. When the thunderstorm subsided, Minnie’s anxiety did too. We relaxed and surrendered to a much-needed snooze back in my recliner.

I did a little research on Minnie’s problem. I found comforting her just confirmed her fears. And common sense told me the throw was a bad idea; it was too hot. The next time Minnie and I weather a thunderstorm together, I hope her “pet parent,” my daughter, will bring me the magic to calm her fears.