Archive for Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer’s thunderstorms not worrisome to adult sleepers

August 13, 2009

The summer has passed its midpoint and is old enough to have revealed its character. It’s been remarkable for its cool temperatures with a handful of record lows recorded in July.

While the tomato plants Laura planted aren’t producing as hoped in the cooler weather, apparently that is not true of cucumbers. Gardeners overburdened by the result of their labor are slowly becoming pests. Proud of the bumper crop, they are now desperate to share with any and all. Unfortunately for them, one or two cucumbers go a long way. Sometime in the past few weeks, most of us had cukes for the taking at work, and I suspect they’ll start showing up on doorsteps soon.

Also abundant this unusual summer are thunderstorms.

Sometime as he has aged, my 12-year-old dog has become afraid of them. Pablo serves as our early thunderstorm warning. He usually sleeps downstairs where it’s cooler. But he’ll climb the steps to our loft bedroom when his sharp ears start to pick up the distant thunder long before its detectable in the human range.

At first, he’ll lie at the top of the steps, but as the storm gets nearer and the thunder claps louder, he’ll come to the bedside. At the height of a storm, Pablo will nudge the side of the bed, pant and — if ignored long enough — whimper.

Pablo now weighs about 80 pounds and is some kind of shepard/border collie mix. (Because he was born in the Flint Hills near Manhattan, we tell people he’s a Konza shepard. On hearing this said, one young woman said “Konza shepards are so pretty.”) At that size when he nudges the bed, it wakes you up.

I read this week that dogs are as bright as 2-year-old children. With that knowledge, I try to figure out what’s going through his mind.

I suppose he wants us to make it stop. We can do amazing things like make it light during dark nights and cool during hot days, so why can’t we stop the booming and rumbling?

But all we can do is offer comfort, and maybe that’s all he wants.

Pablo will stay peaceful as long as there’s a hand on him. This is a dog who is not all that interested in being petted. Oh, he enjoys a good scratching and rubbing, but he isn’t one of those dogs who attacks idle hands with a bobbing head.

But during storms, we’ll pet his head and say it’s OK. While that calms him, it’s not very conducive to sleep.

Poor Pablo doesn’t understand that while violent claps within a mile keep me awake too, I find more distant rolling thunder and rain on the roof effective sedatives.

So at some point, Pablo is told — sometimes rudely — to deal with it.

Pablo, who can fall asleep in seconds despite napping 20 hours a day, doesn’t understand us humans can have difficulty returning to sleep.

I guess sometime after age 2 our worries become more complicated than thunder.

– Elvyn Jones is editor of the De Soto Explorer


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