The Fourth

What a day. With every thud, bang or crack, Roo's body tenses where she lies on the floor with her head under the bed or in the bathroom, next to the toilet. It brings heartbreaking memories to see her seek refuge behind the toilet, but, thankfully, it's clear that this is a much stronger dog. She's frightened, but not panicked. She's clear enough to able to follow my lead. She sees that the bangs mean nothing to me, and it helps her through it. The close-in blasts, though, they're too concussive. How could you expect an animal not to be afraid?

Roo's favorite walk of the day - the one that she gets all excited for and that makes her jump up and down when her harness comes out - is the one leading up to sunset. She is always electric with excitement and happiness as we drive to the park. 

Tonight there was only a faint spark of that. By 7:30 she was worn down. People had been popping the stuff off all day. It picked up in the early evening. I was hoping it wouldn't be bad there, because the space is so big, but I still kept her leashed in case anything made her bolt. A boom nearby sent her under some bushes and she didn't want to come out for a minute. When she did, all she wanted to do was go back to the car and hide on the floor in back. We ended up driving about 40 miles, stopping every possible place to walk her. But the fireworks were everywhere. She would get a minute to perk up, then BOOM, she'd pull the leash to get back in the car. 

On the way home we passed a woman who was desperately trying to get control of a rearing horse. It was a struggle for her to old on to the rope. Her husband and little son were standing at the back of their house, laughing at the sight. The man was shouting something at her. I saw his lighter flick. Did she still find anything charming that guy's act? She had had a kid with a guy who thought that scene was funny and who was teaching the kid that it was. It's the dumbasses like that whose little kids leave emergency rooms short a few fingers on nights like this.

I don't see how you can reconcile loving animals and blowing off fireworks near them. Sure, the occasional dog is brought up not to be sensitive. Orville wasn't. But he was the exception. Here, in the countryside, there are animals everywhere. It's not like the people blasting the fireworks don't see what effect it has on their own horses and  dogs. But, by gum, daddy blew them things off and his daddy did and his daddy before him and I'll be damned if my boy ain't gonna to do it, too. Daddy and daddy's daddy also thought vivisection didn't hurt animals who didn't have souls.

A few years ago, when I lived in Downtown LA, I was driving home right at sunset on the Fourth. All at once, a whole neighborhood set off their fireworks and a flash pack of at least 15 dogs came barreling around a corner on Sunset Blvd. Not everyone slammed on their brakes. It's an odd thing. Lots of people will drive right into a dog on a street. Lots. If you're a dog in the street the odds aren't in your favor.

Obviously a bunch of the local buffoons had all done the same thing - they left doors and gates open without a thought to the dogs. That's what makes this the busiest - and grisliest - night in American shelters. A moment of silence (fat chance) to all the dogs and shelter workers and vets meeting for the first time tonight on bloody pavement or steel tables. Donna Salvini will be hearing about it at Indi Labs, I'm sure. Rande Levine at Karma will really hear about it, because they pull pit bulls, and pit bulls will make up 90 percent of the running dogs tonight.

Later that night, when I got home, I spotted a trembling shadow under a car. He was a Chihuahua mix shaking so hard that he pretty much lost control of his little body. I sat there with him, and eventually he crawled out with his belly on the ground and came close to me. He had to go to the shelter. Rande at Karma said they would take him if his owners didn't show. But, they did, and that little guy got to go home. I wouldn't be surprised if he wound up right out the door on the next Fourth. People have their ways of doing things and like to stick with them.

I picked Roo up on July 21st last year. Who knows what the preceding weeks had been like for her, but it's quite possible that she was one of the dogs who made it on to the LA streets during the fireworks. Talk about a frying pan to fire maneuver.

She was so dirty and thin. She had that concrete wedged in between her toes, as if she had run through a sidewalk someone was setting. All those sores and fleas and ticks. Her shelter records only said that she was brought in as a stray - but that's what most of them say. Even people who're bringing in dogs they've lived with for ten years lie about that. 

Whether Roo was on the LA streets last Fourth or not, it's certain that if she was locked up in a house or apartment, hot, probably thinking of thirst every minute in hot LA - what are the chances that whoever starved her bothered to give her water - she would have been subjected to lots of explosions. Alone, imprisoned, already confused and suffering. A whole world of threats, and now that.

Well, she's come a long way. She's miserable tonight, but I think she's got the strength to get over it fast. 

I'll keep you posted.