Dogs and fireworks: Not a good mix

Marney Rich Keenan
The Detroit News

I passed by the “LOST” sign while running the day after the Fourth of July. It pictured a golden doodle’s face, earnest eyes like marbles peering out underneath a mop of brown curls, tongue wagging. up for anything.

“Lucy” had run away the night before, frightened by fireworks. “Please contact us!” her family had written. “She is a sweet dog that is very loved and missed!”

I had nothing to write down the phone number with so I promised myself I would come back.

When I got home I told my husband and daughter about Lucy and we commiserated with the family, knowing firsthand the terror some dogs suffer around this time of year. Gordie, our 2-year-old lab retriever mix, spent the entire Fourth of July night planted on our daughter’s lap, trembling, panting and otherwise flipping out, convinced the world was ending.

We first discovered that Gordie could not handle fireworks last year. I was holding Gordie on a leash when a firecracker went off. He bolted with such force I tore my meniscus and fractured my kneecap.

A couple months ago, I was talking about Gordie with a friend and she said her family was trying to help prepare their puppy’s sensitivity to sound fireworks by exposing him to recorded fireworks sounds. While completely admirable, I have a better idea.

In reaction to this year’s bombardment, an online petition began circulating on to appeal the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act of 2011 that legalized the private use (meaning: amateur) of “airborne explosives” and commercial grade fireworks. By Thursday evening more than 20,000 residents had signed.

Jane Carvell of Royal Oak commented: “Three straight days of insane “artillery fire” did not make for enjoyable 4th of July. I never minded the muffled booms from neighboring community displays, but this was incessant and scary.”

By Monday, I was fervently on the hunt for Lucy. I drove down Coolidge where I’d seen the sign twice, but it was gone. I repeatedly checked the local website for lost and found pets and called the Michigan Humane Society and the Oakland County Animal Control offices, both of whom confirmed: More pets run away on the Fourth of July than any other time of the year. Three golden doodles had been recovered on Sunday from Waterford, Pontiac and Rochester, but they all were male.

Then late Tuesday afternoon, I inadvertently came across Lucy’s photo on a Facebook post from my sister-in-law. Lucy had been found late Saturday night, about a mile away from her home. A couple saw her cowering underneath a picnic table in their condo association park and took her in for the night. A phone call Monday to police connected Lucy with her owner: Michelle Erickson of Troy.

“We have an invisible fence and had let her outside in the yard for five, 10 minutes tops,” Erickson explained. “But when the fireworks went off, she was gone. She jumped the fence.”

Erickson said they drove around the neighborhood for several hours Saturday night. “It was so surreal,” she said. “The smoke and sound of bombs going off was crazy! It was like we were in a war zone. We are so happy to have her home safe and sound.”

Lisa Kelley of Birmingham wishes she could say the same for her 30-pound, 4-year-old Tibetan terrier named Lily. Lily got spooked July 2 around 9:30 p.m. while staying with Kelley’s in-laws for the weekend in Bloomfield Hills while Kelley and her family spent the weekend up north.

Thanks to Facebook shares, Lily may have been spotted in Rochester Hills. A teen boy was seen taking a dog that looked like Lily door to door looking for her owner. On Wednesday, Kelley was knocking on doors and posting fliers.

“I found two people who said they had seen her with a boy, but the trail has since gone cold,” Kelley said from her car in Rochester. “Obviously, I’m not a fan of fireworks right now. Next year, I think we should all be planning a quiet celebration for the Fourth.”