Usually, during rainstorms, our three dogs go crazy whenever it thunders. They run through the house with their little paws slapping frantically against the hardwood floors. They scratch impatiently at my door until I finally let them into the room. Then, they scoot quickly under the bed and hide until the storm is over.
Because of the dogs’ response to thunder, I was concerned how they would react to the fireworks on the 4th of July. I imagined that the dogs would be running around in circles and barking hysterically once the fireworks began. However, to my surprise the dogs were holding it together much better than I was.
Once the fireworks started, I jumped in surprise every time I heard the loud sizzles, cracks, pops, and rumbles that echoed around the neighborhood. It has been 25 years since I have experienced a Kansas 4th of July holiday. For the last 11 years, I had been living in the deserts of Southern California. Personal use of fireworks is illegal there due to the dryness in the region. Fireworks are a huge fire hazard in such an arid environment and can only be used in professional displays like at baseball games and theme parks. While I lived in California, my Independence Day celebration was quiet and calm. I wasn’t used to hearing the constant explosions happening all around me now and was growing more unnerved as the loud booms continued late into the night. Every now and then, I ran to the front door to peek outside. I wanted to see exactly how close the fireworks were to the house. It sounded like the explosions were happening right outside the front door. I worried for a moment if I needed to move my car to a safer location. Was the house secure? Of course, I was worrying needlessly but the deafening roars of the fireworks continued to unnerve me. I apprehensively shut the front door. The light from outside flickered about the dark room and made me feel anxious. I walked back into my bedroom, shut the door, and took some long deep breaths.
Oh, goodness, I could hear the dogs thumping down the hallway to my room. Then, of course, they were soon scratching at my door. “Okay,” I sighed. “The dogs are freaking out now.” I got up from my seat at the desk and opened the door. The dogs didn’t run into the room, though. Instead, all three dogs stood in a straight line on the threshold and stared up at me with concern in their eyes. Then, they came slowly into the room. But instead of scooting under the bed, they circled around me and looked at me hopefully. I walked back to my chair and sat down heavily. To my surprise, the three small dogs surrounded me and stood at attention. I suddenly realized then that the dogs weren’t looking for comfort; they had come into the room to protect me! Had they sensed my anxiety? Did they realize that I was uncomfortable? Could these three small, incredible dogs actually read my emotions? They had come into my room not to hide but to unselfishly take care of me.
Once I began to settle down, Cowboy and Friskie returned to the front room. Only Starburst remained in the bedroom with me. Starburst is a tiny, older, furry-all-over, white-and-brown female mutt who usually is very calm and low key. Tonight, however, she stayed on alert. Though she began to spread out and relax under my chair, whenever I jumped due to another loud crack of fireworks, Starburst would leap up on her four stubby little legs and walk around my chair; she marched around the room as if she was on patrol. She growled and hissed at any noise that threatened my sense of well-being. Slowly, she would settle back down beside me again. She would relax until the next boom occurred just a few seconds later. And then once again, “Officer Starburst” was back on patrol. Starburst stayed with me for most of the evening. She only left my side when I finally turned off my computer and got up from my chair. After telling Starburst thank you for taking care of me, I closed my door after I thought she had gone back into the living room.
A few minutes later, I opened my bedroom door as I was getting ready for bed. Oh, my gosh! To my surprise, I found all three dogs standing sentinel in front of my doorway again. I was so amazed that the dogs were still protecting me throughout the night. Little Starburst seemed to be the commander of the Tiny Dog Security team. She remained stretched out in front of the door as if she was blocking entry into my room. She looked alert—poised and ready to attack any threat to me.
I suddenly laughed out loud as I got down on the floor. I happily wrestled and played with the dogs for a few minutes before assuring them that I was fine now even though the fireworks continued. Though Friskie and Cowboy wandered back off to their bed in the living room, Starburst remained with me throughout the night. Starburst is Friskie’s mom and I guess when she thought I was scared, her mother instincts took over. She was, for that night, my protector and defender. Friskie and Cowboy also continued to check up on me throughout the night.
So with Starburst remaining outside my door, I settled down into bed. And though the fireworks continued to rage outside, I fell into a peaceful, calm sleep, knowing that I was protected by pure kindness and unconditional love.