I’d like to thank the Althof family for sharing this story with Tucson Tails. Their hope is that by sharing, perhaps another family pet will be safe.
It was the night of May 26, the Sunday before Memorial Day. The family went out to dinner and when they returned around 10 pm, their dog’s collar was lying by the front door. Upon entering, they realized that Wynonna (pictured) was missing. Apparently she jumped over a 5 foot wall because someone in the neighborhood was setting off firecrackers. Like most dogs, Nonna was deathly afraid of firecrackers. A dog’s hearing is far more acute than humans.
How were they to know? Memorial Day is not a firecracker kind of holiday. Tucson Tails curses the law or ordinance that allows fireworks for sale and despises the people who do it even though not permitted.
In 2006, Wynonna came to the greyhound kennel as a stray, she was found wandering in the town of Oracle. Nonna is a greyhound mix, perhaps some Catahoula. Unlike a typical greyhound, she barked aggressively at every dog and every person and most of the volunteers feared her. As luck would have it, the Althof family stepped forward to give this odd hound a chance…a chance to be loved by a family, a chance to smooth out the rough edges and become the beloved pet that she blossomed into. Positive clicker training works miracles.
A few months ago, Nonna spent several nights at the Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center (SAVSEC). She suffered from primary hyperparathyroidism. She also had hypocalcemia secondary to the parathyroid tumor and azotemia secondary to prolonged hypercalcemia. She was really sick for three months and had probably been sick for a couple of months prior. However, she recovered and at 10 or 11, still had a zest for life and a happy attitude.
In the words of her family: “Wynonna was so loving and cuddly. She absolutely loved us unconditionally! Nothing like having a 65-pound greyhound sitting in your lap and giving kisses. And lazy…that dog could sleep! She was always the last one out of bed in the mornings. However, when there were other people in the house, especially children, she became the ultimate herder. She would follow them around, bumping them from behind to keep them in line, sometimes even nipping them on the butt. She would use the same discipline on Luna (the second dog in the family/a Heinz 57 mix) if she thought Luna was too rowdy.”
The family had no idea there would be fireworks in their neighborhood that night. Wynonna had never left the backyard, not even when the gate was accidentally left open. She must have been terrified by the noise. The family is heart broken that their dear dog was so scared, alone and in pain when she died. They always envisioned they would be able to hold her in their arms when she passed.
Fireworks Safety Tips
- Ensure your pet is indoors or in a safe, cool enclosure from which he or she cannot escape. If you have a doggie door, block exit access.
- Turn on TV or radio to provide soothing sounds that distract from outside noises.
- Keep the curtains and windows closed so dogs won’t see flashing lights.
- Spray pet-friendly aromatherapy to calm your dog’s nerves (yours too)
- Consider using a ThunderShirt to reduce anxiety.
- Some dogs may benefit from the use of veterinarian prescribed tranquilizers. (Last year I gave my dogs Calms Forte which is holistic and can be purchased at Sprouts Market and elsewhere. I use it occasionally for insomnia. (Disclaimer: This is not medical advice.)
- Be sure to keep a well-fitting collar and ID on your pet with a valid phone number
- Have your pet microchipped; low cost microchipping is available here.
- If you’re hosting a BBQ, be sure the gates are properly closed and pets cannot bolt out open doors; keep them inside in an enclosed area.
- If at all possible, stay home with your pets or invite a friend or dog sitter to be present with them.
While we mourn sweet Nonna, she was a very special dog with a larger than life personality and one amazing blue eye. Memories of her will always bring joy to our hearts. R.I.P.