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Thunder vs. Lightening

In our last article, we talked about how thunderstorm activity negatively impacts my Golden Retriever, Willie.  We left off talking about barometric pressure drops causing some of the unpleasant feelings dogs can have preceeding big storms.  Today we are going to talk specifically about lightening. Our last installment will publish on May 23, 2013.

PKM 9693asm 199x300 Thunder vs. Lightening

Willie, outside with us as a storm approaches

Some of the reading I did indicated that the loud noise of the thunder itself could be a trigger that frightens a dog. There’s probably some truth to that. I find most animals don’t like loud noises, and fireworks upset just about all of them. But I don’t think the noise of the thunder itself is what scares Willie. The friend we stay with in Virginia Beach lives close to Oceana base. Jets are overheard constantly, and they fly really low. This racket bothers me far more than it ever upset the dog! So, based on this, I really believe that an atmospheric association with the thunder is what drives the fear, and not just the thunder by itself.

So if it’s not just the sound of the thunder, what else could it be? What about the lightening? Lightning is the visible part of an electrical discharge.  Thunder is the resulting sound from the rapid expansion of the air after this electrical discharge.  Thus, thunder results from lightning.  So, if you see lightning there is always thunder. You may be too far away to hear it as typically thunder isn’t heard 15-20 miles from the lightning strike. (weathersavy.com/lightening.htlm). New high speed photography of lightening has revealed with certainty that lightening storms aren’t just taking place in the skies above us. The ground itself is actually sending up charges to the lightening discharge encouraging it to strike. I saw it myself on Discovery channel. In an electrical storm, not only is the electricity above us, it’s below us.

So, this is my supposition. The animals that are fearful of thunder, aren’t just afraid of  the noise thunder.  The fear stems from their confused reaction to the heightened electrical activity. Poor Willie is extra terrified if there are tons of bright lightening flashes. And then once the lightening discharges there is a resultant loud BOOM from the thunder. I believe he’s learned to associate the thunder with the electrical storm. It’s the electrical activity he doesn’t fully understand, but is aware of all around him, that upsets him.

Patty McGuire resides just outside Chalottesville, VA with her best buddy, Willie. Willie has his own blog at www.everybodyloveswillie.tumblr.com. An etsy store specializing in custom knits for bigger dogs is coming Fall 2013.

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