Fear of Fireworks, First Fireworks & Bright Spark!

Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail. 4th November 2017 
Fear of Fireworks

I dread this time of year, as Yogi is terrified of loud bangs.  Not only has the shooting season started which has put pay to our local Saturday walks, but as Fireworks Night is not restricted to the 5th of November, we have disrupted evenings to contend with too.  I tried lots of recommended remedies, like CD’s, to get her used to the loud bangs but the frequency was obviously different as thy had no effect whatsoever.  I have tried using essential oils as recognised in Zoopharmacognosy, which I practise.  That did help, but not enough.

And then I found the Thunder Jacket; whilst it doesn’t alleviate the stress totally (for either of us) it definitely helps, especially with the oils. If you are not familiar with using oils with animals please don’t wing it as a desperate measure. You do have to know what you are doing.  But even burning frankincense or sandalwood incense will help reduce fear and as a sedative respectively. 

The Thunder Jackets, also known as Anxiety Wraps, are basically a stretchy, tight fitting, Velcro fastened vest, which works by applying a gentle, constant pressure. This has a dramatic and instant calming effect for most dogs. It is a simple technique that has been scientifically proven to calm animals and it does help to calm Yogi – she even looks forward to having it put on when she is stressed! (see pic)

As well as noise anxiety, including thunder and even vacuuming (Yogi doesn’t hear that much in our house), it can also be used to reduce other anxiety and fearful related animal behaviours. It can help with travel or separation anxiety and also with general excitability.

Have a look on-line for more details or if you need one for this weekend, try Pets at Home, which is where I bought Yogi’s.  You can take your dog into the store to make sure it fits correctly too.  They are supposed to fit very snugly to be effective; think Spanx – so I was told!

First Fireworks

Now such a huge commercial commodity, it is hard to believe that fireworks were invented entirely by mistake. Common folklore has it that a cook mixed together sulphur, charcoal and salt and set them alight.  The colourful flashes that ensued were considered to be the very first firework. However, according to the Smithsonian it is more likely that fireworks were the result of an accidental mix of saltpetre, sulphur and charcoal by Chinese alchemists around 600-900 CE.

Whereas I wish fireworks were contained to one night of the year, I’m glad bonfires aren’t!  I love a good garden bonfire; it’s good for the soul.  But did you know that the origin of the word ‘bonfire’ is thought to be ‘bone fire’ and describes the burning of witches and bones.

Up until 1959 it was mandatory to celebrate Bonfire Night thanks to an act of Parliament that remained in effect for hundreds of years!

Please consider animals and pets if you are having a firework display at home and if you are having a bonfire, please move the fire before burning it, in case hibernating hedgehogs have curled up for their winter sleep in the base.

Bright Spark!

Some readers may know that I am a member of MENSA, but I may be having my membership revoked after a recent episode!

I love solar lighting and use it a lot in my own garden and Client’s gardens.  It’s so easy and effective and there are loads of types to choose from, from the magical strings of fairy lights that you can wrap around a specimen tree, to single big bulbs that can be clipped onto small branches, washing lines or anything else you can think of (they’re my favourites at the moment).

When stocking up on bird food at Baileys in Abergavenny a few weeks ago, I invested in another solar spot light for a small flight of steps at the cottage.  I removed the sticker from the little solar panel section on top of the unit and duly placed it in the sun.

The other fabulous thing with solar lights these days is they don’t actually need sunshine to charge, but will do so in daylight.  Despite this, we have had some lovely sunshine lately so I was optimistic as dusk fell each day.  And disappointed as my steps remained in darkness.  I trusted and waited. And waited. I am not known for my patience, but I waited a bit more.

Last week, popping back into Baileys for pig food, I took the liberty of returning my ‘broken’ solar spotlight to exchange it for another one.

I spoke to Leon and explained that my light had been outdoors, soaking up the sun, for a fortnight and still wasn’t working, and asked if I could please change it.

“Of course.”  He replied pleasantly, taking my ‘broken’ one.  “Or you could just switch this one on.”

Thinking that was the sun’s responsibility, I asked, “How?”

“With this little on/off switch.”  He grinned.

And as he flicked the little switch to ‘on’, the spot light blinked into action proving it was actually much brighter than I am!

The morale of this story is:  Humour (and humility) can be found in the darkest of places if you know how to switch the light on!  

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