Force of July

One of the reasons I decided to write this blog is to try to preserve memories. Yes, some of them are slightly exaggerated…ok, most of them are slightly exaggerated…OK, ALL RIGHT! MOST OF THEM ARE MOSTLY EXAGGERATED!!! Wow, tough crowd! Anyway, I just feel the need to preserve some memory of my life since I seem to forget so much of it.

A good example of this is, I can’t seem to remember 90% of my life’s Fourth of Julys’. Now, most of the period between age 16…make it age 13…and age 21 are a complete blank and yes, substances were probably involved, but I just can’t seem to remember most of the rest of them either.

There are snippets of memory, like going to the fireworks with my daughter and 2 of my grandsons when they were 3 years old (guessing) and 1 year old (not guessing). The 3-year-old followed me everywhere and even mimicked my actions, my stance, and my space. The 1-year-old human vacuum cleaner kept the grassy area around us free and clear of any fallen food like popcorn, chips, burgers, candy, bugs, etc. They were busy boys and I only remember that event because I enjoyed being with them so much. I know there were other Fourth of Julys’ with family, but those occasions didn’t involve any mimicking or little human vacuuming of the lawn.

In fact, we attended some wonderful Fourth of July parties where we spent time with 3 of our other grandchildren, lots of fireworks, games, food, beer, and plenty of young adult people who were very polite and called us things like “sir” and “ma’am” and assorted other names you call the token old couple at a party. These were very fun times and I miss them because when they moved, the parties ended…I think. Maybe they have secret parties now that don’t involve old people…

Like many veterans, the fireworks create some anxiety in me. I discovered early on that if I was involved with the lighting of the fireworks or if I’m witnessing the lighting of fireworks, I’m not as anxious. I know what’s going on and my mind is ready for it. It’s when someone sets off the equivalent of a building full of dynamite that I discover the ceiling is dusty, you know, while I’m trying to un-pry my fingers from it. There is just no getting around the startle response many of us vets have.

The same holds true for most dogs on the Fourth of July. I read recently that it’s believed dogs think they’re going to die every time they get startled by fireworks. I believe it, but I wonder how they figured that out? Was there a test panel? Did some researcher round up a bunch of dogs, blow some fireworks, then sit them down and ask how they felt? I would’ve loved to sit in on that conversation!

RESEARCHER: So, how do you feel?

DOGS (a whole bunch): Woof, woof, bark bark bark, woof, whine, whine, bark bark bark, yip yip!

RESEARCHER: Really? You thought you were going to die?

DOGS: Woof WOOF WOOF! Yip yip!

RESEARCHER: So, if I light this one? Would you still think…wait, that was hypothetical! Stop, no, STOP, NO!!!!

Once again, this is supposed to be a family-friendly blog, so we’ll just leave the following carnage to your imagination. Bottom line is, many dogs hate fireworks. Many veterans hate fireworks. These things are forced on them every Fourth of July.

The problem is, many children love fireworks. Heck, plenty of adults love fireworks. There is no answer to this dilemma of having fireworks or not. Also, the fireworks people set off now are so much more powerful than the fireworks I remember as a kid. Of course, they weren’t as easy to get back then either.

Moral of the story? Even though the Fourth of July is a celebration of our independence and we should celebrate, please have some courtesy for our veterans and dogs. The veterans gave you your independence to begin with and dogs, well, they’re just dogs. They just love you unconditionally, remain loyal when anyone or anything else would leave you, and rely on you for most of their needs (to include anxiety). Maybe we could give them a break and celebrate away from homes where veterans and dogs live. If your celebration included a “token old couple,” they would’ve told you this.


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