Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Association and fear

Finn has never been bothered by loud noises. Loud music he sleeps though, screaming kids don't stress him. Even thunderstorms don't worry him, in fact, he loves them! (wants to be out in the wind sniffing and running around).

Yesterday evening as we were finishing our walk, we heard a loud bang from our neighbors yard. Finn stopped and looked towards their house. There was another bang, and I could see over their roof fireworks spreading up into the sky. To my surprise, Finn spun around and quickly trotted away down the street. When I called him, he came to me, but stayed right beside me in heel all the way up to our door, and could not get inside quickly enough.

This really surprised me. Last Fourth of July he didn't even notice fireworks were going off. I thought about it a while, and the fireworks sound a lot like a gun going off. This may be the clue to Finn's behavior. Last fall we had a problem where we board our horses with foxes digging dens along our fence line. They were digging down by the posts, causing the posts to fall over, and the potential of looses horses, or broken legs should a horse step in the hole.

We were dealing with it by filling the holes with rocks, and encouraging the foxes to live elsewhere. A neighbor, however, decided to take a different approach (without consulting the owner of the farm). Finn and I were taking our usual daily walk in the pasture when Finn alerted to something on the other side of the fence, next to a tree stump. When I looked, I saw a fox caught in a leg trap.

The fox was terrified, and his leg had broken completely. I called the farm owner to let them know. We decided the kindest thing to do would be put the fox out of his misery, so he brought out his gun and shot the fox. (killing him instantly) While Finn was at the barn with me when the he did this, he was watching, and when we went to talk to the barn owner (who was considerably upset about a trap being set on his property) Finn refused to get anywhere near him. At the time I thought maybe the scent of gunpowder (or cigarettes!) put him off, but now I wonder if he made the connection between the sound of the gunshot and something bad happening to the fox.

The fireworks we heard certainly sounded like a gunshot. So now I will have to be sure I have Finn in the house or contained some way whenever there are fireworks. He is very obedient, but fear will trigger his sighthound reflexes, which tell him to RUN!

Here is an excellent post on what to do about Thunder/noise fears: Pawcurious.

Tomorrow we have a yummy cookie review to share! (the review, not any of the cookies...)


  1. It's a very interesting puzzle. It would make sense that Finn might be associating the bang of the fireworks to the gun and thus the fox. Pru didn't start having thunder phobia until she was almost two.. so maybe Finn is experiencing noise phobia later in life which was also brought up in the Pawcurious post.

  2. Aw, I wonder if he does connect the two. (And poor fox!)

    I always assumed 4th of July was pretty for animals... Hope Finn isn't too spooked by it!