I watch my dogs’ tails carefully, as they can communicate so much. Both Bows have tails that are typically curled over their backs, so a dropped, semi-straight tail often indicates their stress or bad mood. Of course, their tails will uncurl naturally when they’re lying down and relaxed. However, if they’re standing at alert, and their tails are down, I make sure to watch carefully for signs of an impending reaction.
Bowpi, in particular, has gotten flightier in response to outdoor sounds this past year. I’ve mentioned that she displays a heightened sensitivity to certain kinds of sounds. Things that pop, crack, smack, click, thump, and boom will cause her to skitter: a soda can being opened, the sound of me trimming my nails (though she’s fine with the Dremel), a pile of books being dropped on a desk, etc. At best, she just skulks off, perhaps glancing back with a knitted brow before disappearing from the room. At worst, the sounds will send her flying off in panic, as happened once when we rounded a corner at one off-leash park and encountered a whole field of people played cricket, of all things. Not baseball, not softball (which are also pretty terrifying to Bowpi), but CRICKET, with those long, flat smackywhacky paddle things. The horror! She completely lost her mind and went hiding in the tall grass for an interminable five minutes or so before I was finally able to coax her out.
The acoustic environment of the Bay makes some days quite tense for Bowpi. We hear this sporadic, low thump which echoes across the entire landscape. It’s like the sound of a flat kickball being punted through the air, but we can’t pinpoint its origin. Perhaps things getting jostled around on some nearby loading docks? Whatever the source, the sound really makes Bowpi nervous, so I put her on leash and truncate our park excursion.
When things are really bad, Bowpi strains at the end of the leash until we get to the car. Meanwhile, Bowdu is completely cool and unaffected. His calm does not seem to rub off on her. Even if he is fazed, he just doesn’t have the same kind of flight response that she does.
Nevertheless, both Bows are actually quite tolerant of July Fourth fireworks. Evening walks can be a struggle, but when they’re in the house or even the yard, both dogs deal with the noise pretty well. We don’t have to deal with any trembling, whimpering, howling, or other dramatics. Bowpi just tucks in and acts very sleepy. Only the frequent twitch and swivel of her ears reveals that she remains on alert.