The Border Collie Chronicles

Observations from (arguably) the World's Smartest Dogs;
(but, without question, the bestest friends!)
or, Life As We Understand It, as told from dad's shop.

Posted April 12, 2012


Astraphobia 01

The Aftermath!


Astraphobia 02

My Hiding Spot!


Astraphobia 03

Calm before the storm.


Astraphobia 04

It's happening again!!


Astraphobia 05This is getting tiresome!


Astraphobia 06I'm trying to calm "Little Pinky".  He's Scared.


Astraphobia 07Yet Again!


Astraphobia 08Watchin' that next storm on the horizon.


Astraphobia 09

I'm safe now!  (this was taken the night the article was published!)


Astraphobia 10

A good treat will always calm you down!


Astraphobia ...
By Gall


OK - I know that I AM a west Texas girl!  We average (you do know that to be average, you need to have one foot in ice water and the other in boiling water (credit, Larry Owens) … not too comfortable, but, you’rein with the crowd”!) about twelve inches of rain a year.  Thankfully, for me, that all usually just comes in a few occurrences, because, I don’t really like rain!  Well, it’s not so much the rain itself – I have a lot of places that I can hang out in order to keep out of the wet – it’s just all the commotion that accompanies the rain!  Used to, a crowd of dad’s buds would gather, watch the rain, and drink beer … that was cool, no probs … no, the thing that I really don’t like is the dad-burned thunder (this is called Astraphobia, you know?!).  Lightning is not that bad (I can always close my eyes – and with my reflexes, I can usually beat the lightning), but I know that thunder is always right behind!  Really, any kind of loud noise usually makes me become scarce.  But when it’s thunderin’, it’s thunderin’ everywhere!  A girl can’t escape it!  My favorite security place during a thunderstorm is the house – behind the couch … if that’s not available, in dad’s shop – under his drinking table.  Either place really works ok – as long as he is near!


Dad noticed this peculiarity in me early on – Shooter, Hardway, Momma Roo and Patches weren’t affected by my affliction – and he tried to “play it off” thinking that I would outgrow it … he was wrong, because I’ve read on the internet that … what? … Oh well, anyway, he tried to down play my fears by calling thunder --- “Fun-Der”.  Really!!!  He did!  That might work on a blue heeler, and would definitely work on a chiwawa, chiwawah, chihuhu … well, a little dog … but, it most definitely won’t work on one of the (arguably) finest examples of (arguably) the world’s smartest dogs (that’s a BC for you slow folks!).  No!  There’s really nothing fun at all when you’re camped out in dad's shop, listening to Lyle Lovett and there are the occasional pitter-pat of raindrops on the roof (I live in west Texas, remember?) and then, all of a sudden, the bottom drops out and it sounds like God dropped a cast iron skillet on a brick floor!  I mean – I go air-born!  I’d probably poop my britches, if I had any!  Then I start losing my hair – in clumps – I look like I have leprosy or something (well, maybe not leprosy, but at least mange) … but I don’t, HONEST!  I mean … really … horrendously frightening – yes; fun – uhhhhh, no, I don’t think so!  Patches now has a mild case of Astraphobia, and Annie and Bubba are full-fledged nut cases (Momma Roo is still unaffected).


Well, if you haven’t noticed … this ol’ vernal equinox thing is upon us again (that means it’s Spring Time to all you non-ag or tamu folks).  Now, spring in this neck of the woods (heck, everywhere really, I guess, according to Al Roker anyway (mom-D lets us watch TV with her in the mornings sometimes)) means “thunderstorms”.  Dad has told me all that “junk” about springtime renewal, April showers and May flowers, but these last few years, everyone has agreed, were some of the driest that anyone can remember (even Mr. Porter, and he KNOWS this country!) and I know that we had flowers with no showers (i.e. – thunderstorms)!  So, I’m thinking that dad is pretty wrong on that little cutesy saying! (though I do seem to remember mom-D and dad spending a whole lot more time with the watering hose, … and those cactus in the back haven’t bloomed lately … hmmmm, I’ll have to think about that some, after I finish this article, of course.)  Now, spring has come in pretty rough here – had about ½” of rain, some hail, and a lot of wind!  May not sound like much to ya’ll … but we also had THUNDER!  I haven’t spent a lot of time in others areas of this Great State, but I can assure you that when it thunders here … it THUNDERS!  I’m talking pooping your britches, crawling under the table (or behind the couch), losing your hair, and trembling like all get out … thunder!  We’ve had a couple of storms that were bad enough for me to jump into dad’s arms/lap/chest (it really doesn’t matter where) even when he wasn’t asking me to!  Of course, with my profuse shedding … when I get down – he looks like that Chewbacca from those Star Wars movies!


Fun-Der my butt!!!  Downright terrifying!!  That’s what it is, I tell you what!








When all is said and done, the weather and love are the two elements about which one can never be sure.

Alice Hoffman, 'Here on Earth'



What causes thunder?  Richard Brill, a professor at Honolulu Community College, explains:

Thunder is caused by lightning, which is essentially a stream of electrons flowing between or within clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. The air surrounding the electron stream is heated to as hot as 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is three times hotter than the surface of the sun. As the superheated air cools it produces a resonating tube of partial vacuum surrounding the lightning's path. The nearby air rapidly expands and contracts. This causes the column to vibrate like a tubular drum head and produces a tremendous crack. As the vibrations gradually die out, the sound echoes and reverberates, generating the rumbling we call thunder. We can hear the thundering booms 10 miles or more distant from the lightning that caused it.




Help your dog cope with thunder and fireworks:

A dog who is afraid of loud noises can create anxiety for the whole family. Here are some tips for soothing your storm or fireworks troubled dog.

Short term Quick Fixes:

  • Play! Depending on your dog's level of anxiety (pacing vs. curled up trembling) simply distracting him may be the best course of action. Play, sing songs, exercise the dog as much as you can to try and wear it out. Help your dog associate thunder with a fabulous playtime!

  • Crate your dog or move their bedding into a enclosed space like a closet. A dog who feels "safe" will be less anxious, and a "den" is the instinctual place for a dog to feel safe. It may help to cover your dog's crate with a blanket or sheet to create a den feeling.

  • Create as much white noise as you can. Fans, TV's, radios, etc. Try to drown out the majority of the sound.

  • Find a T-shirt that fits the dogs chest tightly and put it on them. No one knows why this helps, but many owners swear this makes a difference.

  • Over the counter sedatives (Like rescue remedy) or veterinary prescriptions like Ace or Valium are a good short term treatment- although not avaliable in an emergency. If your dog is severely anxious, try to keep a stash on hand.

  • Short term and long term, one of the most important things for an owner to do is not to coddle the dog. Cooing and petting are both"rewarding" actions for a dog- they are used as rewards in training- so what are you training your dog to do when you respond to his anxiety with petting and cooing?




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