I was finishing up reading the Sunday paper yesterday, while thinking about which topic to choose for today’s blog. I always have several lists of potential topics, scattered hither and yon, one usually tucked under the To Do list that begins “Be More Organized.” Almost done with the newspaper, skimming through the Parade section, I came across Marilyn vos Savant’s column, Ask Marilyn, and Presto Chango, a new topic was chosen.
In the column, a reader asks why dogs are more afraid of thunder than cats, given that “dogs seem more intelligent.” Marilyn’s response was that, indeed, cats are far more intelligent than dogs, and being smarter, have learned that thunder won’t hurt them.
Oh my. Oh my my my. There are two roads I could go down here. First is the issue about the intelligence of dogs and cats. You are welcome to jump in here on this one, but I’ll save my own comments on this issue for another day. (Summary: It’s a bit more complicated than that.)
What I want to talk about this week is the less complicated assumption that both the reader and a “highest IQ ever” columnist make about more intelligence leading to less fear. Spoiler alert: Nope.
It’s irrelevant whether dogs or cats are “more intelligent.” (Even those terms are somewhat meaningless–intelligent about what?) Here’s what we do know: We of course know that lots and lots of dogs are afraid of thunder. It often takes years to develop, but can be traumatic and dangerous for dogs, and exhausting for their owners. It’s reasonable to ask why dogs are so frightened of thunder. Early in my career I had the opportunity to ask John Paul Scott just that, and he answered “Because God is growling.”
That’s about as good a summary as one can make. Thunder sounds like canine threats of violence, the loud, low frequencies blanketing a dog as being attacked by the entire universe. It also correlates with house-rattling booms and crashes that make even the best of us jump out of our beds. Cats growl too, but the more agitated they get, the higher the frequency. The reverse is true of dogs. Two male cats threatening each other sound nothing like a thunder, but rather the high-pitched shrieking in a horror movie. (There are some good examples of low frequency canine growling on my DVD, Lost in Translation. They contrast with the higher frequency play growls that don’t alarm dogs when heard through a speaker.)
But all this leads to my ultimate question: Are any cats afraid of thunder? Perhaps it is more common than we might think? I have tried to remember if any of my cats have been afraid of thunder and can’t remember an instance where it was clear that they were. However, frightened cats often go to ground–it’s one of the reasons why it can be hard to find a lost cat. Frightened cats often find a hiding place, perhaps under a porch, and will stay there for days, ignoring an owner’s plaintive attempts to call for them. Perhaps then, it is less obvious if a cat is afraid of thunder? But still, based on all I know it seems that surely fewer cats than dogs are frightened by thunder.
But now I find myself curious, and grateful to the Sunday paper for initiating what could be an interesting discussion. If you have or have had cats, has any one of them behaved as if fearful of storms? Inquiring minds want to know.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: We were at another sheepdog trial this week, best described as From Ecstasy to Agony compared to last week. From best, to worst. Argh, poor Maggie. She got beaten by the sheep, pure and simply. I mentioned last week, although perhaps not clearly enough, that Maggie’s good runs were on “her sheep,” meaning she got to play defense, not offense. Maggie hates having to push “heavy” sheep, but we’ve been working on it hard all winter.
But to no avail this week. The sheep were the opposite of last week’s, and required dogs to push push push to move them forward. It used to be that the most common cue you heard was “Lie Down” or “Slow Down,” because the dogs were moving the sheep too fast to maintain good control. But that’s not true anymore. All the trials we’ll be in this season but last week’s are with the same flock of sheep. They are worked by dogs for lessons often at their home farm, and trucked from one trial to another during the trial season. The sheep learn that the dogs won’t hurt them, and become almost blase about the whole experience. Rather than moving fast, asking a dog to play defense, they require a dog to be on offense all the time, and push them forward. The sheep also learn very fast where the exhaust pen is, and put tremendous pressure on dogs who are trying to prevent an escape to the pen. (That’s the one time they’ll run.) They are also brilliant at reading dogs, and can tell when a dog is lacking in drive and confidence. Many of the dogs had some struggles this week at the trial, but almost all of them in the Open class were able to get around the drive and finish the course. But not my Maggie.
I said last year that I didn’t know if Maggie was able to run well in the Open class (the hardest one), but I’d do my best to try. North America’s top trainer/handler, Scott Glen, has tried to help me with Maggie, and if I was a more experienced handler I am sure I could have helped her more during her training. But he’s always concluded by kindly saying “Maggie’s a great beginner dog.” Meaning she probably just doesn’t have it in her to flourish in Open. I also need to learn to do a better job handling her during her runs. There are some split second nuances that I haven’t yet mastered that could have helped her.
Maggie was quiet after her runs and the next day. Was she a bit under the weather? She’d been up several times during the night before with diarrhea. Was she responding to me being disappointed? Were these sheep harder for her to deal with than the first time she worked them a month ago, when she struggled the first run but did a great job the second? Will the sheep just get harder and harder for her in the future?
I’ll run her in the next trial and see how she does. If it doesn’t go well I’m not sure I’ll run her again. (You can’t go backwards in levels–if you’ve run a dog in Open you can’t go back to running in the intermediate class (Pro Novice or Open Ranch it’s called.) As much as I want to trial, finding it endlessly fascinating and complicated and challenging, I’m not going to put her in over her head over and over again.
Ah, life. (And a reality check: It’s just a game. Maggie is a brilliant farm dog and I love her like life itself. I just wish I had the skill experience to help her more than I have.)
On a happier note, Skip got to do some work at the trial, helping friend Rowie and her dog Grig take the sheep off the field after each run was over. He did a good job, although he too has some “issues” that I need to learn how to handle. Here he is practicing his regal look while waiting to go to work.
Skip’s lovely rough coat was not an advantage Sunday morning when he left our wood’s trail and got himself into THE WORST BURRS IN THE WORLD, Virginia Stick Seed. They look so small and innocent, but each small burr divides into 20 or 40 or possibly 10,000 little burrs, and they are hell to get out. Ten minute walk, 40 minute comb out.
This photo doesn’t even show the worst of it.
I assuaged myself by walking around the yard with my camera. Lots of beautiful color out there.
Here’s Nellie at my feet, complaining that I am paying far too much attention to the flowers and not enough to her. I sort of wish I could turn my head around like that too, but then I start thinking about the movie, The Exorcist.
Finally, after a endless August of heat and no rain, we got 4 beautiful inches of rain in four days. I would do anything to be able to send it all to the west coast. My thoughts are with all of you living through the smoke and the fires. If you know of good places to send help to both people and pets, please let us all know.
Purrcasso is the only cat I ever remember showing any concern about thunder. It was not long after we adopted him as a kitten. There was a thunderstorm and he came racing in to where we were. He looked and acted scared but then he noticed that no one else was acting concerned. He was invited onto someone’s lap and after carefully surveying everyone else in the room again he relaxed and settled down for a nap. It made me wonder how much thunder-phobia is learned since Purrcasso clearly learned that is wasn’t a threat.
I feel for you and Skip with the burrs. D’Artagnan got into a similar local plant and days later I’m still finding the odd lurker. Fortunately, he likes being brushed as long as there aren’t too many tangles.
My cat, Minnow (15y), definitely used to be afraid of thunderstorms. She’d crawl out of the room along the wall right before one started and hide out in the bedroom closet until it was over. Lately she hasn’t been reacting to them. That, plus a few other things (unresponsive to her name, meowing a lot louder, not realizing we’ve walked up behind her) make me wonder if she’s losing her hearing… I’m sure she doesn’t mind but probably is glad the scary storms don’t seem to happen anymore.
On the other hand, my dog Moo (11y) has never been afraid of storms. After a rough summer of fireworks everywhere, she’s has begun noticing them more and gets a little shaky during some of the more severe thunderstorms.
I’m so sorry about your disappointing trial performance but you’re right. It is just a game. My problem is I get frustrated with my dog when he doesn’t perform as I’d like him to. I think that’s the downside to all sports. The grueling disappointment when things don’t go well. I guess that’s why it feels so good when they do. I hope things turn around at the next trial. But if they don’t? There’s always that old corny but definitely true saying, you still go home with the best dog there.
Of the 6 cats I have had as an adult I have never seen any reaction beyond a mild startle at a particularly loud boom, even when curled up next to a dog who was shaking like a leaf in a Thundershirt.
I hear you on the burrs. I politely stepped off the trail for a pack of cyclists last week, and Nina looked like she’d rolled in them. Took me over an hour to comb them out; it was especially hard to get them out of her tail because she wouldn’t stop wagging.
My cat is terrified of thunder. She will go streaking through the living room to hide several minutes before the dogs notice a storm is coming. She will become almost catatonic during a storm. When she runs to hide I know I need to prepare the dogs because they will hear it soon. I’m not sure how she always senses the storms so much sooner than the dogs.
We don’t have a lot of thunderstorms in the pacific northwest (at least compared to the south, where I grew up), but both of my cats and my dog show signs of stress during thunderstorms. My dog solicits affection, lip licks, yawns, and whines. My cats either hide or cower in my lap, have worried ears, and shed excessively. Yes, this means I sometimes end up covered in critters (and fur). Since it’s so infrequent, I haven’t found a good strategy for helping, but it also isn’t escalating!
Bruce K says
I have two cats and a dog. All three sleep through a thunderstorm. Actually, I will also sleep through a thunderstorm. Maybe they picked up my thunder proof energy. Both cats, however, hate the vacuum cleaner which has a high pitched sound.
Rona Gregory says
First of all I have only had three cats in my life and I don’t recall them being afraid of thunder in that they ran and hid or anything like that … however, the did not like to go outside but that could have been more to do with not liking to get wet lol! On the subject of dogs I have been learning quite a bit about how dogs can often be scared by something and then generalise that to other things and I actually ‘saw’ this in action recently. My current dog is 8 years old, has never been bothered by even the loudest thunder and had never seen/heard fireworks close up – when we lived in town there was a by-law against them so he only ever heard them in the far off distance. A couple of weeks ago our neighbors set off fireworks from their swim deck on the lake (we moved, no by-law here). This was without warning and Lucky was out on the deck! He startled but came indoors and seemed fine. Then they let off a series of silent ones that reflected on the lake and lit up our whole lounge before I had chance to close the curtains. By now Lucky was hiding in the spare room and didn’t come out for over an hour – even then he would not settle in the house and we all had to get in the king size bed in the Bunkie, where he wedged himself between myself and hubby! Anyhow, a few days later we had a couple of claps of thunder and I noticed that Lucky immediately leapt up and headed to the spare room! We don’t seem to have had many storms here this year, hopefully by next season he might have forgotten (*crosses fingers!)
Mary Beth Stevens says
Never had a cat who minded thunder until we adopted Peter as an 18-month old rescue from Brooklyn (maybe it doesn’t thunder in Brooklyn???). When the thunder begins he starts with a low growl, gets low to the ground, and eventually finds a hiding place. It’s a little creepy, actually😳. Our dog Tippy is also thunder-phobic, so now two out of three critters in our life are affected. And of course, we managed to move to what must be one of the thunderstorm capitals of the nation – the mountains of western North Carolina. Who knew?
One of our cars growing up was frightened, but I’m not sure it was the thunder, it may have been the change in the barometric pressure. When a storm was coming, he’d lay down on the cellar stairs. We could tell how bad the storm was going to be by which step Tiger was on (second step, minor storm, fourth step, watch out, a big one was coming).
Marcie’s reference to her cat becoming almost “catatonic” made me picture a cat lounging on the couch sipping a gin and tonic during a thunderstorm. Sorry, but I have to find humor wherever I can these days. My cat lived to be 19 years old and I can’t recall her ever being particularly nervous during storms.
Julie H. says
Not sure about thunder, but my two barn cats were so terrified when it hailed on our metal barn roof (where they are shut in every night to be safe from coyotes), that they dug through the rock hard dirt floor to escape. One was missing for two days and mad for a couple weeks. Poor things
Just like life, isn’t it? To throw you and Maggie some tough sheep after a good trial. Ah well. A lovely way to spend a weekend. Better luck next time. Maybe those same sheep will have a change of attitude? 🙂 Thanks for sharing it all.
We had a cat, Lily, who was afraid of thunder. But then, she was afraid of everything! We rarely saw her because she hid in the basement, away from the dogs. We had her for 12 years, then came to realize that she was miserable. We found her a home with one adult, where she would be the only animal. She has blossomed as a result. I’m glad she’s finally happy and feels safe.
Barb Stanek says
Ah, the ups and downs. They balance us. They help us grow. Not always sure I want to grow in that way at that time. Sigh.
Rachel Brix says
Yes, our cat Playvo seems to be afraid of thunder. An indoor-only kitty, when rumbles would start she would immediately go to our senior golden and cuddle her (who also used to be afraid of thunder but is now 15 and the past few years has curiously not shown any of her “old” signs- pacing incessantly and panting) or, if it is at night and I am in bed, she will seek out attention from me. Could be coincidence, but seems she wants closeness when thunder strikes. She does often show this behavior toward the both of us anyway and randomly, but it is always paired with rumbles of thunder.
The post about cats and dogs experiencing thunder in different ways was great! I would not be surprised if the sound and concussion we hear/feel is more intense for animals?
Years ago we had a Cairn terrier and a fabulous tuxedo cat who were best of friends. We were away when the tornado sirens went off, followed by volleys of thunder and sheets of rain. We raced home and could not find the cat OR dog! In a last ditch effort we checked the basement. They had both squeezed through the cat door into the basement and were huddled on and under a pile of laundry.
A favorite memory now…and glad they knew what the tornado siren meant!
I am curious about why they develop a fear for thunder as they get older. Samwise was never afraid of thunder until about 1 year or so ago (around age 6). I can’t think of anything that might have happened to associate the sound with something particularly bad. (He also doesn’t like gun shots, even when they are far away. )
Janet Davis says
Our current smoke conditions here in the foothills of Mt. Hood just east of Portland, OR are at hazardous levels so we have been staying inside as recommended. However, the outside air has set off our smoke alarms and our carbon monoxide monitor so now our poor pup is terrified of those noises. Not sure how we are going to desensitize her and can’t deal with it just yet. But at least we did not have to evacuate although we were packed and ready. My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes and animals.
Wendy S. Katz says
I had a cat who became very agitated when it thundered and when a storm approached. Later in life she was diagnosed with kidney stones and I wondered if there was a pain connection.
Sandra Kruczek says
My female,spayed kitty, Brightie, has begun reacting to storm onset. She runs to me, meowing, and jumps up on the couch. She presses herself into my leg and shivers until the initial wind and thunder passes. I will get a book and read and hold her tight to my leg and just stay there for her.
I find this very interesting. Brightie was a feral kitten and it has taken years for her to trust us to pick her up. She still is not crazy about it
I find that if I pick her up and hold her tight that she will actually purr but she is not cuddly in my lap. This is after five years or so. Her littermate, Bertie, is just the opposite.
No experience with cats and thunder, but I wanted to thank you for reminding me to help the dog develop a positive association with thunder. Normally Red Dog finds the closest thing to a tornado shelter during thunderstorms, but she was willing to sit out with us on the patio while a distant storm rumbled as long as I continuously shoved treats in her mouth.
The old Pug lives in a very quiet world these days, so thunderstorms don’t bother her a bit.
Ooh, ooh!! I have a weather cat! My little Jilly is as reliable as a weather radio. She will cry and pace the floor before we hear thunder. Could it be the drop in pressure she is keying in on? She arrived at our farm as a pregnant kitten who someone threw away. We have always suspected she got caught outside without shelter in some storms and has never forgotten it.
Love my dogs AND my cats! Thanks for this discussion!
Tamasin Middour says
Help for people and pets:
Valley Churches United
in Ben Lomond, CA
vcum.org. “Ways To Donate” tab
This is a long-established, very reputable non-profit social services organization serving the mountain towns and rural population of the San Lorenzo Valley in California (north of Santa Cruz), an area which was extremely hard hit by the CZU Complex Lightening Fires.
More than 900 homes were completely destroyed, half again as many seriously damaged, and hundreds more uninhabitable for lack of restored electricity. Occupants of surviving houses are hard-put to help so many of their less-fortunate neighbors.
We try to take it well. One group of creatives who lived in Boulder Creek, lamenting the loss of their unique stick cabins, hand-built over the years, reminded a local reporter why they had been so cohesive: “We’re all here, because we’re not all there.”
I know one multigenerational family who has had to split up for lack of place to take in a group of ten: the father with dementia sleeps on a couch, the wife on the floor of a garage with the saved dogs, an adult son with schizophrenia in his car on a street somewhere in Santa Cruz, while the daughter and son-in-law stay elsewhere with five of their six sons, all autistic.
I know, because that’s me. My house and all I’ve loved for a lifetime burned to the ground. And there are so many like us. And so many more communities in all three west coast states that it’s unfathomable.
Yet the one good thing about trauma is that, forever after, you understand on a much deeper level other people in pain. And so many complete strangers have said to me they’re sorry about what happened, that if human caring is the greatest solace of all, then I’m fixed for life. Good people make good happen, and the world is still mostly beautiful. Take care. Wear masks. Love to Patricia and to all of you whose words I read every morning. You’re already doing so much.
Yes, had a couple of cats that I could tell were afraid of storms. Perhaps others have been too, but I’m usually so preoccupied with the dogs, that I’m not aware of what the cats are doing.
So sorry about the sheep trial challenges of late. I am sure it can feel from moment to moment like the best of times and the worst of times.
After all the mental and physical prep beforehand, we feel like we have prepared to be successful…only to find the course (or the sheep) don’t suit our dogs this time out.
Hang in there. Even if Maggie’s fortunes are not to be found in trialing (hoping that is not the case tho!), she will still be your best farm dog!
Oh Janet, so sorry. You are wise to just cope and manage as best you can now. Paws crossed for you and yours.
Tamasin: Words fail here, but I am so so sorry. I very much appreciate the resource–I’ll check it out and do as much as I can. Here’s all the caring in the world that I can send you from afar.
Very interesting and I look forward to your opinion on this. Being that I am a dog person, my life revolves around dogs I don’t know anything about cats. But as you say it is very complicated. I think that intelligence is a vast topic that can go in many different directions. From my experience with dogs, it is the more intelligent ones that are harder or more complicated. I always say dumb is easy and I have yet to meet a dumb dog. I often deal with behavior issues (things that humans don’t like) in dogs and intelligence is often the culprit. That said, intelligence is not everything; there are so many other things to factor in.
My youngest is crazy intelligent, EXTREMELY complicated and a strange little man. I’m still figuring it all out and how best to help him. Intelligence is a huge topic.
I used to have a cat who was definitely afraid of thunder. He would slink along next to the wall crouching down by the baseboard whenever there was thunder. He had been a stray – no idea if that had anything to do with it, perhaps he had been out in the rain and thunder?
About Maggie’s lack of push in sheepherding, have you had lessons with Gordon Watt? He seems to tailor his instructions to each dog and their individual personality, strengths, and weaknesses. I’m definitely a novice in sheepherding, and haven’t had lessons from many trainers, but I feel like he is really gifted at evaluating each dog and knowing how to help him/her. Instead of not running her at trials anymore, you could just run at trials where you know the sheep are lighter. Of course, that might mean driving further for you.
Both my boys (1 dog, 1 cat) are completely unperturbed by thunderstorms. They hang with us in the living room despite the booms and bangs from any thunderstorm. Cat truly doesn’t care so long as he is dry and has food. Previous dog was terrified by thunder until she became deaf (she was a more tender soul). Current doggo is quite happy to accompany me anywhere = even if it is a bit more scary than he might choose on his own. Where his “mamma” goes is where he wants to go. I never walk alone.
Having a “parade” of dogs & cats in my life (many, many at the same time) I have been fortunate to have only 1 dog who was so fearful of thunder. Currently my family is only 1 dog & 1 senior cat. While my dog snores through storms, my poor cat is a wreck.
Sorry, no cats. But I have Cardigan Welsh Corgis. My first one had no fear of thunder until she was about 13 or 14 – I think she had lost so much of her hearing at that age that she didn’t hear the storm coming until it was right over us. Never any trouble with fireworks.
My second Cardi was always terrified of both – always. The last few years of her life she would run and get her Thundershirt & bring it to me to put on her.
My current 9 yr old two boys were rock steady with both thunder and fireworks until this summer. The state loosened up the fireworks laws & my neighbors shot them off for weeks before and after Memorial Day and July 4th. During the day & at night. Big stuff, too. Neighborhood sounded like a war zone – I can’t imagine what military veterans must have been going thru. Now if the dogs hear one small firecracker go off & they are terrified. It seems like they have PTSD. I think they have Thundershirt ownership in their near future.
Tracy F. says
I read that same article! I’m not sold on the authors opinion. I had a lovely cat named, Marmalade who was terrified of thunder. She would get really low to the ground in a crawling position and look for places to hide near us. I dreaded thunder storms – it was awful to see her so frightened. Now the dread continues as I have a dog that it terrified of it.
Good luck on the next trials!
Tamasin Middour says
I should have included that every county animal shelter near burn areas of the three states probably has a “donate to fire victims” button on its website, since they are caring for so many animals that newly-homeless people can’t keep with them for a while. My own local shelter gave me donated crates, pads, beds, and food, so my two dogs are with me, exchanging inexpressible comfort.
Before our evacuation, they were pretty blasé about the three days of dry lightening and thunder, once they had quizzically watched my own reaction, a reality I tried to hide. Then again, we were all fairly lethargic in the hot winds and 107 degree temperatures, unprecedented in a redwood forest. (Should I have raked?)
See what I mean about trauma? You’ve had plenty yourself, Tricia, and your compassion is through the roof, although most of us here probably agree that you started out with an above-average supply.
Lesley Dipple says
I don’t remember any of my cats being frightened by thunder and certainly the 3 I have now are not frightened they don’t even wake up from their snooze, then again I don’t remember any of my dogs being frightened by thunder either. Maybe it’s because of my attitude to thunderstorms, I love them.
What we wouldn’t do to receive your four inches of blessed rain out here in the ashes of the west coast! The cat does not seem to care about thunder (nor does the partly deaf dog) but the constant evacuation alerts on the radio last week obviously rattled everybody, animals included (it is SUCH a horrible sound, as it must be). Feeling very grateful to have gone through this round unscathed, although we are still horribly dry and fire season will last another month or two. We would also be grateful for air that is not hazardous to breathe. However, please give a thought to helping to support the many people displaced by extreme weather events this year (we’re looking at you, Hurricanes Laura and Sally) if possible.
Cathy Balliu says
Oh, the curse of trial-wise sheep. It’s so hard to shift sheep that are no longer neutral and even harder to shed them since they’re more than happy to run towards people. With the state of the sheep production industry in parts of the country though, I think this is what we need to prepare our dogs for. So we spend our time training our dogs to push and hope that we can find the brakes if we run on non-dogged sheep. We still had the luxury of working most non-dogged sheep while I lived in Colorado and it was always interesting to watch people come from other parts of the country to run at Meeker for instance. If you took took much out of your dog, then you were sooo out of luck on those sheep. It’s just so hard to find unbroke sheep for trials anymore. Is Skip naturally pushier?
My own theory was always this: Dogs are afraid of thunder for the same reason people are afraid of snakes: SOME thunderstorms are dangerous. SOME snakes are dangerous. There is some evolutionary advantage to hiding from snakes and storms. Those who are brave around both really don’t have a strong enough evolutionary advantage to push these sorts of primal fears out of the gene pool.
Dogs are in recent evolutionary times omnivores who probably scavenged more than hunted. Going to shelter in a thunder (and lightning) storm is safer than trotting around in it.
Cats, even feral cats, sleep most of the time and shelter out of even gentle rain anyway. So being afraid of thunder has little extra advantage; they already avoid the rain
Thanks for the experienced empathy Cathy about over dogged sheep. To answer your question, Skip does indeed have more push, but I can tell I have to be careful with not slowing him down too much. A good friend watched him work and said “Take too much out of him at this age and you’ll regret it when he’s five. Work him at least one level over your comfort zone as much as you can!” Eeeee hah.
To j: Oh how I wish we could send the rain!
Thank you so much Tamasin, good idea. And I’m guessing the ASPCA is busier than ever at both sides of the country right now.
Sorry Terry that now you have a dog afraid of storms! Check out my blog posts on the topic and the advice of others–there are lots of things you can do to help. I have to add: Why is Marmalade the best name for a cat ever? I can not think of it without smiling.
Oh Maryk and your poor shell-shocked dogs. If I was queen I’d have fireworks banned, or allowed only one night a year. Good luck with Thundershirts, they do help many dogs. Paws crossed for you.
marlene: We should send letters to Marilyn von Savant!
Thanks Mary! Maggie and I have worked a lot with Gordon, Scott Glen and Patrick Shannahan,they all are so skilled. And you are right about picking trials with lighter sheep; will consider that for next year for Maggie for sure.
Kathryn Maza Courtney says
Tricia, you no doubt follow this more closely than I do. But, I just stumbled upon a new study, soon to be published, measuring intelligence of dogs and cats based on the number of neurons they have. The study concluded that dogs have nearly twice as many (500 million in dogs, versus 250 million in cats)…
PS: I only recently found your blog, and I love it. Thanks!
Sheep or an Agility course. “The dogs are easy to train. It is the humans that are hard to train.” I always feel bad when my poor directions make my dog go off course. So I keep trying and Fin doesn’t really care. Well, maybe sorta
Alice R. says
Poor Maggie, poor you. Maybe another appearance of the 2020 curse? It certainly seems as if you got caught in the sheep version of the covid fallout. I do so appreciate your care for your Maggie though. I have been there. I had to take early retirement from my nursing career to take care of multiple elderly family members who were all going downhill at once. I missed my work so when I was further down that road, I got a puppy that I hoped would become a therapy team member with me. He’s a real clown, smart and sensitive, but turns out a little too sensitive. We love the dog we have though so he’s my therapy dog, and does tricks for the neighborhood kids when we go out on our jaunts. Life is just too full and rich to sit on disappointments instead of living it.
Melanie Hawkes says
I agree with Sherri re intelligence. I am sure my dog is smarter than me, and has several unwanted behaviours because of it. He taught himself how to open my doors while I wasn’t home, and I think he has worked out that barking at the door or fence = treats from me! I would like a dumb (but trainable) dog next time!
Kelly Schlesinger says
It may have taken you 40 minutes to get the burrs out of Skip’s coat, but it was also 40 minutes of running hands through that beautiful, shiny, black and white fur. His coat is lovely. And, if the burrs didn’t hurt, I’d bet his day was magnificent: running through the woods and getting brushed!
rita penner says
One of my cats has always been afraid of thunderstorms. She was found abandoned in a cardboard box by the side of the road. I have wondered if the vibrations from the cars and trucks going by and perhaps the noise taught her that it was something scary.
Lauren Van Duzer says
I’ve had two cats afraid of storms. My previous cat would hide under the covers on my bed. My current cat will tremble, hide and – if you talk to her – growl. As you can imagine, she refuses food when that upset. She gets calming treats (composure pro) for the thunder phobia. She interacts normally when it’s raining! Thanks for bringing this up.
Tricia Halsey says
I had one cat that I acquired when she was too young to be weaned, while living in Richmond, VA that could accurately predict thunderstorms and heavy wet snowstorms. For thunderstorms, she would speed-walk at a half-height crouch to an interior room without windows and hide out (like a walk-in closet) until it was over. (A bed with a floor length dust ruffle/bed skirt would also work in a pinch.) For heavy wet snowstorms, she would run and get the zoomies until she collapsed from exhaustion. (She would scare me sometimes because she would collapse on the steps, head hanging down, and be unresponsive until I put my hand on her belly and gently felt for breathing and moved her. Then she’d pop up and zoom around again until exhausted.) My subsequent transfer to Vermont kept her thin and lithe! (The early wet snowfalls were really the only thing that affected her. The typical cold, winter snows were no big deal.) People I worked with in VT laughed initially, but we all came to rely on her weather sense.
Wet Snowstorm zoomies? That is a new one, sounds, well, incredibly dramatic, especially when she became unresponsive. Holy moly! What a weather predictor! I imagine the meteorologists were jealous.
Tricia Halsey says
Thunderstorms in the South are MUCH more dramatic than in the Northeast. My Virginia born calico rescue cat and my Memphis born rescue Sheltie/Collie dog were/are much more sensitive to the storms. I’ve often wondered if it’s the barometric changes (dog will sniff at closed doors/windows leading up to storm) that they learn means a storm is coming. Or, having been rescued with unknown origins, were they out in a few storms? My upstate NY breeder-bred Birman cats and Shelties were generally okay with thunderstorms except for very loud thunder cracks for one Sheltie. Our rescue Sheltie/Collie had been placed in 2 homes and 3 fosters throughout TN before we got her and she had ISSUES with thunderstorms.
Wendy Bedale says
One of our dogs has developed a somewhat novel phobia related to thunder. A few years ago, we installed a steel roof on our house. The snow tends to slide off the roof, making small avalanches but rather loud sounds similar to thunder. Our 12+-year-old collie/husky mix (Jamie) is terrified when this happens and either runs away (we live in the country about 1/3 mile from the road, but he has made it up there on numerous occasions before we noticed he was gone) or becomes very destructive if he is confined or tied up. We haven’t come up with a good solution (thunder vests and pheromone sprays were not effective), but at least working from home during the pandemic allows us to comfort and reassure him. As suggested in one of your blog posts, we are thinking of trying some music therapy to try to calm him.
Al Chapman says
I have a 5 year old GSD who became noticeably noise-sensitive in 2019. Turned out she had dental problems including an abscess that the surgeon who did her root canal surgery said had been causing her pain for up to 6 months and may have been at the root (excuse pun) of her noise sensitivity. Lately she’s been freezing fearfully and then pulling uncontrollably for home when hearing noises such as someone chopping wood in the distance. I try to reassure her calmly but I’d love to know whether it would be cruel or kind / productive to gently coax her to see what is making the noise bothering her in the hope she’d be able to learn that it wasn’t actually frightening and regain confidence.
Al: I doubt I would try to get an animal to check out a fearful noise by coaxing her to go closer. Rather, stay where you are, or move away, and give her some kind of wonderful treats to classically condition a different response. Good luck!