It has not been an easy couple of weeks, for Duncan or for me, and I now understand more than ever why he prefers Winter to Summer.
In addition to the Independence Day holiday, which dragged on for five miserable days, the monsoon season has returned to the Front Range in full force. When Ken and I first moved here we scoffed at the idea of a "monsoon season" but summer soon proved to be a far wetter season than we anticipated. Each day dawned bright and clear, sweet-smelling and warm, with fat drops of dew bending each and every blade of grass, but by mid-afternoon the skies in the north would turn treacherously dark and ominous and bleed southward, and the thunder would echo off the mountains, reverberating across the plains. Soon the wind would pick up and the tornado watches and warnings would start, and we'd find ourselves in a torrential downpour that rivaled the storms we'd experienced in the green Shire-like Midwest. It was a blessing because the clouds shielded us from the brightest sun of the day and by evening, at dinner time, the birds would resume their flutterings and the mourning doves would reclaim their lookout on the eves, lowing softly as the sky swept clear and the cool of a perfect evening returned.
It has been several years since the monsoon season has been as severe as this year. I used to look forward to afternoon storms but in the past couple of years Duncan's anxiety at loud noises has increased and I find myself tending to and reassuring him more than anything else. The Fourth was loud and explosive and sent him running to the bathroom to seek shelter in the tub. The following four days traumatized him with the remainder of the bottle rockets and firecrackers and then the nightly storms. It has been so terrible that he's refused to go out at all. Where he used to jump and dance and chirp at the mention of the word "walk" he now cowers under the table, and when I do manage to get his leash on him he refuses to walk, except in the mornings, when the world is at its most quiet. Walking down The Run has turned into a frustrating exercise as he continuously attempts to seek shelter in each of the breezeways of the buildings we pass and the things that used to bring him great pleasure, like chasing Ziggy and the squirrels, visiting with Jeffrey, dancing below Soldier's patio, are now ignored in favor of staying right by my side, startling and stopping at the sound of a golf ball being hit on the course behind us. He is miserable and it's all I can do to keep him calm. His Thundershirt and CS Drops, which I also take for my own anxiety, help, but he is not himself and I am beginning to miss him terribly.
So I lay with him under the coffee table, my head resting on his belly, one paw cradled in my hand, and whisper to him, stroke his ear, slip him treats and tell him how brave he's being, how safe he is. And together we wait for the storms to pass, for the mourning doves to resume their tranquil song.