Raining, cold, miserable weather. Not the kind that makes me want to jump out of bed, click the leash on Izzy and head out for a 6 AM walk, but when you have a dog, you don’t have much of a choice. The funny thing is that Izzy doesn’t like walking in the rain either. He stops at the back door, looks up at me, out toward the yard and back to me again as if to say, “Seriously, woman? You want me to go out in THAT?” I pull him off the stairs, he tucks his ears, then obediently trots at my side, but when it comes to a puddle. Whoa! Pull up here! Then a big leap over the offensive water and we’re off — really quickly — to do “the thing.”
When I lived in an apartment complex on the third floor, the storms would echo through the meadow we faced. It was truly spectacular to see flashes of lightning from that height, and the repeating booms of thunder made the pictures on my walls rock. Exciting for me. Not so much for Izzy. He would run from room to room, tail between his legs, as if he couldn’t find a space safe enough to sit and hide.
I did some research and found a place right in Durham that had invented a shirt for animals that purported to calm their anxiety, whether it was thunderstorms or fear of something else that made them turn into whining balls of nerves. They called their product a Thundershirt. It looked like a piece of gray flannel with Velcro. Unassuming. I wondered what could be so magical about this gray flannel shirt that would calm down the most anxious of animals.
I spent a lot of time on their website, read all of the success stories, watched the videos, perused the research about how the Thundershirt cured anxiety in 80% of the animals (dogs and cats) who wore it. No matter whether it was thunderstorms or separation anxiety, the Thundershirt would cure it.
I looked at Izzy, thought about his fear of the thunderstorm, but even more so, I thought about his fear of human beings. At 9 months old, my little Shichon had a terrible attitude toward people in general. He charged strangers, barking and growling so fiercely that no one would come near him. It wasn’t fun.
So I tried it.
Within five minutes of putting on the shirt, Izzy curled into a ball and went to sleep on the floor next to my bed. Meanwhile, a thunderstorm that wouldn’t quit for hours raged on outside. He could have cared less.
Today, Izzy really doesn’t pay attention to storms, but he still doesn’t like rain, so when it’s a dreary, rainy day like it is today, we put on his Thundershirt and it keeps him dry while he’s outside. I still have to rub him down with a towel when we come home because his head and paws get wet, but his body is dry, and he absolutely loves putting on that shirt. Amazing.
Having a dog that’s only half wet is much better than having one that is soaked to the skin — even if that dog’s ‘fur’ is really hair.
I’m not doing a commercial for this product, but if you’re interested, here’s the link: http://www.thundershirt.com/
(And here’s Izzy on our walk when it’s dry!)