Roo was nervous, though still in her bed this morning. It was a bit darker than usual, and she was hearing some thunder approach. She was still lying there, but not plotzed out as usual. She had her head and ears up, tail wrapped tightly around her, and a forepaw tucked under her chest.
Last night there was a brief thunderstorm. I knew it was coming when Roo started getting wound up. Having planned to nip the habit of hiding next to the toilet for hours in the bud, instead of letting it become more entrenched, I closed the bathroom door. She followed me to the basement and hid under the stairs. I stayed with her and talked her through it. It seemed to really help her - she never got to the point of panic. She was just deeply concerned.
I had seen on radar that the cell passing overhead wasn't going to last long. For the last 15 minutes of it, I made a show of making the noises that are made by preparing her bedtime treats. In truth, those treats are more of a five-course meal than just a couple of cookies. It's her favorite of the day. I know, it sounds idiotic, but that's what I do. It's something that started as a way to reward her when we arrived late at lousy motels, and she always liked it so much that it has become tradition (the sort of idiosyncrasy we all have, and the kind that Roo's List will keep going for our pets).
So, I ignored the thunder completely, walked around normally, talked to Roo as if the sky was clear and the stars were shining in a windless night, reminding her of the delicacies she was missing out on.
It seemed to work. Roo, just nervous, but not miserable, came upstairs. She was proud of herself, and I let her know how proud I was of her. She took her cookies, but didn't eat them. She walked them around the house, found a corner and lay down with them. It was still progress.
We're lucky with this morning's thunderstorm, because it is another light one. Perfect to use to try to teach Roo that it's not join to harm her without her being sent into a panic. She tried her spot behind the toilet, but decided after only a minute there to come out and sit next to my desk. She wasn't panicking - which is not to say she was enjoying herself. But she wasn't skittering around and panting and losing her mind with fear.
"Rooki, you are after all the dog who scares even the biggest bears away. You are the Rooki who swims the wildest rivers" - more on that to come - something she should be a little more frightened of and after what happened two days ago, might, fortunately, now be - "you are the Rooki who has traveled the deserts and climbed the mountains and jumped from the cliffs. You are the Rooki who wandered the prairies and chased the quickest bunnies of the rainforest, the Rooki Kahoo who swims the seas and the oceans and the rivers, and who has braved half the crackhouse motels in America without batting a golden eyelash. You are the Rooki who has never stood down from a mean dog and who is not afraid to stuff the darkest hole with her entire snout if it might mean a mouse. So, if there's anyone who shouldn't be worried about some thunder, it's Roo, the bravest dog in the world."
I had another experiment in mind, which was to try her old Thundershirt again. I can't really say that it changed anything. After it was on, she seemed to want to hide her head again, albeit in a new place, behind a steel cabinet.
There's not supposed to be any more thunder today, but you never know. The only real risk is a surprise storm when we're way out on a hike somewhere, because then, keeping Roo from running becomes a hard proposition.
We're working on that one, too.