Despite her great progress, Pepper has one seemingly unconquerable fear- fireworks. Ok, two deep set fears: fireworks and storms (not just thunderstorms).
Even though it's completely illegal, to do fireworks here for more than the night before and the night of holidays... The first year I got Pepper (I got her on March 24, 2012) we had fireworks going off nightly from April through July. She was miserable. All she wanted to do was hide. I've never met anyone who can hide as well as her. She crawls, digs, squishes, burrows, and oozes into the smallest, darkest spots she can find. She does her very best to become invisible, and hopes to completely disappear. It took months after the fireworks last year for her to come out of hiding or go outside in the evening to go potty or go for a walk. This year they waited until mid-June to start, but it has been every single evening and night since then.
I have created many safe hidey-holes around the house & she still generally prefers to find someplace awful, dark, uncomfortable, and as hard to access and get in and out of as possible. She got herself stuck and hung up while behind the washing machine in the basement last week. Her easy slip off collar got hung up on a clamp and she was wedged and hung so tightly we don't know if she might not have died of her stubbornness if grandpa hadn't been persistent in looking. He almost didn't look there, and when he did, he barely saw her nose. Pepper is quiet. (I didn't know she even had a voice for the first 10 months.) She doesn't holler out when you call her and she never seems to holler for help. Dad said she seemed exhausts and he could barely get her out.
Pepper really is trying. She is such a brave and awesome girl and she really has been trying. Rather than just hiding in another room without us, she is staying out with me. If it gets worse than the puppy pillow palace I put a T-Touch wrap on her with some T-Touch. Then if it gets worse- we battle it together. She wants to be with me and have me hold her and help her to feel safe and secure on one hand and then the other hand pops up and slaps us both in the face- her crazy fight, run, flee, and hide side.
I try to secure her physically tight enough to be secure and hopefully not hurt either of us (and in ways that will support and secure her so she will not twist or strain anything). Let me tell you- for a 10 lbs dog, she fights like a posses Tibetan Mastiff 10X or more her size, and I have the bruises to prove it!
We get opportunities to work together every night lately, and many early mornings with the severe weather that's been passing through. We are both at our wit’s ends often, but are both too stubborn to quit the fight. I really worry for her.
All the while we struggle, I keep thinking:
- What could have happened to instill this in her sooooo deeply?
- What could cause fear so horrible and crazy that there is no reason?
- How can you be so nuts that you can act in no way but pure crazy? Even when you don't want to? Even when you are safe and secure?
- Is it possible to change, modify, outgrow, or in some way be able to manage this problem?
- Will the stress of this age her and lead her to a premature death?
- If it is this bad for my little dog, how much worse might the same things be for warriors and people with PTSD?
- How do heroes act in the face of such overwhelming crazy fear?
- If you have a character that does act, especially heroically in the face of such fear, would that character seem less realistic, less sympathetic, less desirable, less heroic, if you saw, felt, or heard them go through such a fight, to act?
I'll keep working with my Pepper and she'll keep working with me. I always tell her we are better and safer together. Next time, in part three we'll address the last questions about how knowing stuff like this about fear might inform and affect your characters, along with their motivations, reactions, and actions.
Until then, keep your pets safe, enjoy the holidays, and be respectful and kind to our service people, vets, and anyone going through tough, crazy-seeming, emotional struggles.
Fear Pt 1:Puppy Mill Pups
Fear Pt 3: How Knowing Fear Informs Your Writing