I get that sinking feeling when I remember my dog Emily Elizabeth and fireworks. I adopted Emily Elizabeth in the summer of 1996. I had just moved into the home I live in now. It had been a difficult spring and summer. My father had died in June, my 15-year-old springer spaniel Nikki had died in July. I was living alone with another dog Lucy, a springer/cocker mix. That August I decided it was time to get another dog.
I found Emily at the Kootenai County Humane Society in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She had been running loose on Kathleen Ave. After she was picked up nobody came to claim her. She came with some fears. She was uneasy walking across door jams. She was nervous around campfires. Brooms made her run away. Her biggest fear was fireworks. When loud firecrackers and fireworks started their noisy prelude the first days of July each year I knew we were in trouble with Emily.
The first year she hid in the closet. Another time she scratched the carpet trying to get into the bedroom where she felt safe. When the Fourth of July came around I always got that sinking feeling for Emily.
After JEJ and I were married we decided one year we would go with friends to watch the fireworks display in Colville. The dogs were safe in our fenced land. Emily was handling the holiday noise very well. When our friends came to pick us up Emily began to show nervousness by pacing around and I got that sinking feeling I should stay home. I almost said something as I looked over my shoulder uneasily when we drove away. Emily was standing at the gate panting and pacing nervously. Why didn’t I listen to my gut?
When we returned home a few hours later Emily was gone. Once again I got that sinking feeling. Why didn’t I stay home? Why did we have to go and watch fireworks that weren’t that entertaining? I was angry at myself. I was also frantic.
We called her and searched our property first. No holes were found around the fences. I checked closets, sheds, any places she may have taken refuge. I was not brave enough to go drive along the county road calling her name. I made JEJ go. I couldn’t deal with seeing her hit by a car or injured along the road. If she came home I wanted to be here. I continued to call her, search, and pray.
JEJ returned and reported he had seen no sign of Emily. It was now getting very late and I attempted to go to sleep. I tossed and turned as I wondered where Emily may have gone to escape the loud noises of the fireworks. I couldn’t lose the sinking feeling.
I got up very early the next morning and decided I needed to go walk around our neighborhood and call her. When I opened the gate here came a wet and dirty Emily Elizabeth. When she saw me her eyes lit up and her tail wagged. I ran to greet her and covered myself with her dirt and smelly water. I yelled to JEJ that Emily was home. Relief.
She was tired and hungry, but unharmed. She was nervous, but happy to be home. The other dogs greeted her with enthusiasm. We will never know where Emily went, but we suspect she jumped the gate and went down into the gully where Martin Creek flows. The rushing water may have masked the loud noises of the firecrackers in the neighborhood.
Since that ordeal we have never left our dogs alone during that time around the Fourth of July. Even if a dog doesn’t seem bothered by the noise, one firecracker can put them into panic.
I also learned through this experience that when I get that sinking feeling, I need to listen to what my gut tells me.
Emily died in December of 2004. She enriched our lives and taught us many important lessons about life. We loved her and miss her every day.
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