In Which Stormy Weather Hits Home…Part One

Rugby is not a dog with a lot of storm anxiety, thankfully.  I see a little minor barking when we have thunder, and the only time that it really becomes an issue is when we have front after front after front that rolls through overnight.  Rugby can hold it together for the first one or two, but he quickly gets over the rumbles and house shaking when it goes on and on for hours on end.  I can’t say that I blame him. Generally his Thundershirt is perfect for calming him, and I distract and redirect him.

We have hit an unusual patch of noise stimuli since Independence Day, and poor Rugby has scarcely had a break!  We expected a few days of fireworks, and that’s what we got.  After three or four days, the fireworks stopped.  Blessed relief for all of us!

Before photo of our backyard…

The Storms Begin….

But then the storms started.  Daily, afternoon/evening popup showers.  In East Tennessee, these are pretty common.  The day will start out sunny and warm, and then the clouds quickly build and open up.  At times, it’s nothing more than a gentle summer rain.  Other times, it can be severe weather with high winds and pelting rain and or hail.  Generally, the storm can pass through our area in minutes or sometimes in an hour or two.

Last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, we were on the receiving end of bad storms, which produced lots of rain and some pretty good thunder and lightning.  Friday’s storm was by far the worst, and the wind gusts were up to 70 mph.  It was serious enough that Rugby and I hid in an interior bathroom until it blew over.  Seeing our 75-80 foot tall trees being whipped around like nothing in a high wind is a little unsettling to  say the least!

While the worst of Friday’s storm was hitting us, my husband, Michael had just pulled into the driveway from work, and was waiting  for things to let up before he came inside.  While he was in his car, he watched three huge branches fall from trees and crush two sides of our backyard fence. Before a tree could fall on his car with him in it, he quickly came inside!

The big branches that fell on the fence
The big branches that fell on the fence
More branches
More branches
More branches
And even MORE branches

Without a secure fence in the backyard, Rugby has been relegated to life outside on a long line, which he’s not really crazy about.  It’s impossible for him to chase a squirrel up a tree, or get after a chipmunk when he’s limited to where he can go.  When it comes to varmint chasing, Rugby wants no limitations.  Trust me on this one!

Saturday, Sunday and Monday were calm days….the calm before the very next storm!  In checking the yard over on Saturday, Michael discovered that another large tree in the ravine next to our home had been snapped at its base, and was being held up essentially by two other trees.  It was going to be a matter of time before that tree decided to fall, and it was in a direct line with our house!

Because of the weekend, there was really nothing that could be done to intercept the large Yellow Poplar tree before it decided to fall.  We were just in the midst of getting it dealt with on Tuesday, when….you guessed it….a quick severe storm blew through, and…well…let’s just say that it wasn’t pretty.

The Tree Falls….

The largest part of the tree landed right on the back side and end of the house, and a couple of big branches broke off and fell right next to the house on the patio, narrowly missing our gas line and our A/C unit!  It was simply crazy how this tree fell!

The view out the back door
The view out the back door
SO close to damaging other things!
SO close to damaging other things!
Narrowly missing the A/C unit!
Narrowly missing the A/C unit!

And just in case you wondered, when a big tree falls, it does so with a huge bang, and the ground and house will shake!  Your heart will come up into your throat, and you will find yourself shaking for a good long while after you discover that you really are safe!

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This was the back side of the house that received the most damage
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The view of our house from out front
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The tree covered essentially the entire roof on the back side of our house

Rugby’s response was much like mine!  I had a quick little scream on the tree’s impact, and Rugby barked a bunch!  I think all of us were shocked and all of us were scared when it happened.  The big difference is that Michael and I understood what had happened, and Rugby just didn’t!

The insurance adjuster was at our house about an hour after the tree fell, surveying the damage and advising on the cleanup process.  Poor Rugby was beside himself having strangers in the house, tramping around and talking to his parents!  He was safe in his crate, but barking like crazy, and I wondered if he was going to rub his nose raw with the stress.  Fortunately, he was fine.

The Cleanup Begins…

The tree professionals showed up  on Wednesday morning, and I knew it was going to be a lot of noise and stress for Rugby.  I fitted him with his Thundershirt early in the day, and put him safely behind a tall gate to talk to the men who were going to cut the tree up and pull it off our house. They were also going to cut up the large branches in our back yard and haul those away.  It was going to be a long day of noise and strange voices outside, creating stress for us both!  I wasn’t sure how Rugby would fare, because this was a first time for both of us!

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Rugby’s Thundershirt generally helps in stressful situations. (Notice his nose boo-boo)

To be honest, I have to say that I was very proud of Rugby!  He did a good amount of barking, even with the Thundershirt.  I honestly don’t think it really helped to calm him in this situation, but I know that it didn’t hurt, and I would use it again in a similar situation.  The worst part of things for Rugby was hearing the noise on the roof.  The tromping around, and the big thuds when chunks of the tree hit the roof would send Rugby into a barking fit that was hard to calm.  He got better over time listening to the strange voices, and those didn’t bother him much by the end of the day.

He didn’t potty well at lunch time, even though I asked everyone to stay in the front yard until he was finished.  He seemed very nervous in the yard, looking around as if he expected something scary to happen to him.  He looked around much like I did, wondering what had happened to our pretty, cozy, green and lush backyard.  It looked a bit like a war zone, and I think both of us were trying to take it all in.  He did eat well all day, so that was a big bonus!  I worked a good part of the time re-directing him with piggies, which only worked part of the time.

One thing that impressed me, is that Rugby seems to really understand that I’m his safe person now.  He didn’t want to be too far from me, and often when something scary happened, he looked at me…much like a toddler…checking my response, and making sure I would re-assure him and let him know that he was safe.  Rugby typically barks if I speak to him in these situations, so I’ve learned to just stay calm and quiet, and often, I can calm him just by placing my hand on his shoulders and letting it rest there.  That physical contact with him reassures him that I’m right there, and I don’t pet him or use any sort of soothing voice to make him think I’m praising his behavior.  It only takes a minute or two for the moment to pass, and then he’s fine.

Overall, he did reasonably well for the day, but by nighttime, he was really exhausted after not getting his usual daily naps.  I’ve noticed that he’s been a bit more clingy, and he worries more when I leave him, but I think that once we can settle back into our regular routine, he will do just fine with things.

The story will continue next week, when roof repairs begin!

After Cleanup Starts…Day One….

The house damage after the tree was off
The house damage after the tree was off
The fence was on the ground!
The fence was on the ground!
The lush green bushes are gone...
The lush green bushes are gone…

 

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Comments

    • Sally says

      Ay yi yi is absolutely right!! What an ordeal this has been!! It took me a good LONG time to stop shaking!! We were BOTH pretty scared!! Thanks so much for the good wishes!!

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  1. says

    Wow!!! Glad that the whole family is safe! Henry definitely had a hard time with the fireworks, and I'm thankful we didn't have many crazy storms to add to his anxiety. Good luck with the cleanup!

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    • Sally says

      You said it, Rochelle!! We were so thankful to be safe!! Fireworks are the bane of every dog's existence!! So sorry Henry had to endure them too!! July sure hasn't been boring in my neck of the woods for sure!!

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    • Sally says

      It was a miraculous thing all the way around! I think Rugby looks cute in his Thundershirt too...although he would say, "PFFT! I look ridicalus!" He really hates wearing it, but it honestly does help calm him in many situations, and it's a terrific tool that's passive and kind.

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    • Sally says

      Honestly, it was scary...in part because of what could have been!! I'll be blogging more about the entire experience, as it all unfolds!! It's going to be a new experience for all of us!!

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  2. says

    Oh my gosh, that's really scary. I hope the storms are over for awhile. We have some big trees in our yard and I have always worried about them falling on the house during a storm.

    That picture of Rugby is so sweet. I am glad he did relatively well and that the Thundershirt helped. Also, lovely that he understands that you are his safe person!

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    • Sally says

      It really WAS scary! I'm hoping that the storms are over for a good long while now too!! When I see the skies getting black....I won't lie to you....I start to feel fairly anxious!! Rugby tried sooo hard to hang tough and cooperate, and it was a challenge from start to finish!! Generally his Thundershirt really does help calm him, and it was only marginally helpful in this instance because of ALL of the factors rolled together. I worked for a solid five years to really get him to trust me at the level that he does right now, so it's really wonderful that he feels safe with me!!

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    • Sally says

      I wrote a previous product review about Thundershirts. For Rugby, it really HAS made a good difference, but I honestly see just as many dogs when I'm training who aren't fazed by it. In truth, I have no idea if they're using it correctly, but I think it's clearly worth a shot!

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  3. says

    Wow. What a mess. I can't imagine how my dog would have reacted, though I do hug him. Strangely, I'm finding he's responding with more anxiety to noise like fireworks now that my can has passed. She used to not mind the noise and he would sit on the couch near her. Now that she's gone, he hides under the bed.
    There's been some serious storms around here too. The way things are going, we can likely expect more.

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    • Sally says

      It really was a BIG MESS!! We had no idea how Rugby would really respond either, although we knew he was not going to handle things well, just because he can't cope with much of anything. It's very interesting that your dog found comfort and safety with your cat! I'm really glad that he's got a safe spot to hide where he can feel safe and secure! I sure hope you don't get the high winds that we got!! Paws crossed for you!!

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  4. says

    Wow! That must have been terrifying! We had a storm like that a few years ago and it is when Bentley became scared of thunderstorms. I'm glad that your damage wasn't worse. ♥

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    • Sally says

      It made my heart beat pretty fast, I won't kid you about that!! I'm hoping that we won't have any fallout with Rugby about storms or high winds going forward!! Time will tell, but I'm crossing my paws! He has enough fear!! 😉

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  5. says

    WOW thank goodness you are all safe. Layla is afraid of the rain so when its raining I keep t-shirts on her which I find keeps her calm and a bed in the shower which she loves as its quiet and dark, relaxing her.

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    • Sally says

      A snug t-shirt can often work just as well as a Thundershirt, Ruth, so good for you in having something that will help calm her! I love your idea of placing a bed in the shower for her to have someplace snug and safe and dark and cozy to comfort her! Good thinking!!

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  6. says

    Glad you are okay. When Sandy hit here, we couldn't even walk down our road due to floods and hundreds of trees downed like match sticks with boat literally in the middle of the woods, some stuck up in trees. I will never unsee what we saw and I felt bad for dogs and other pets and felt blessed that my dog Hooper had passed two months earlier so she could not experience this terror. We never think these things will happen to us. You reminds us all - and the good thing is that in time, things can return to a "new" normal, but we are forever changed.

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    • Sally says

      Oh I can't even imagine living through a hurricane!! I grew up in the Midwest and saw a few tornadoes and their resulting damage, but none that actually hit my home! You are so right that you can't unsee things! I always, ALWAYS fear for the pets and animals. Wild animals fare better I think because they are used to fending for themselves. It's our pampered pets who don't expect to have to take care of themselves....and those poor dears break my heart!! I'm sure you really were changed in that storm, and I'm SO glad you came out of it okay!

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    • Sally says

      Exactly! The important things...Michael, Rugby and I came out of it uninjured, and the damage was repaired! We know that we have a very solid house, and that's some peace of mind for sure!! 😀

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  7. says

    Wow how scary for all of you. We had a huge old tree come down next door and it crushed a garage and all the fences so easily. It sounded like a bomb going off. I just had the city check and prune another huge old one next to our house on the street as a few branches came down or were hanging- they would crush a car. Glad you are all relatively OK.

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    • Sally says

      The contractors told us that if our house had been frame instead of brick, we might very well have had a tree on the floor of our bedroom instead of stopping on the roof!! We have LOTS more BIG trees in our backyard, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be nervous with any storms that have high winds! It's incredible how those fences just collapse! So glad you didn't have any damage in your storm!!

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  8. says

    That was quite the storm! I'm glad that your family was safe and your home was able to be repaired. That would be scary! Cats and dogs have such sensitive hearing that I can see how it would be hard for them to deal with the loud noises. Rugby must be a very patient guy!

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    • Sally says

      It was a crazy few days of quick popup showers and storms! Poor Rugby just was beside himself with it all, but he really tried so very hard, and honestly coped as well as I think he could have. I hope he doesn't have any strong storm fears going forward!

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    • Sally says

      We are no worse for the wear!! Things can get fixed, and the damage could have been much, much worse, so we were really blessed!

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  9. says

    Oh, my goodness! That definitely would have been stressful. Glad no one was hurt. I have two fearful dogs and can't imagine how something like that would have gone over in this house. Lots of firewood?

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    • Sally says

      Haha!! Yes, there's an entire tree of firewood for sure!! I'm hoping Rugby won't have developed any storm fears, and time will tell. I have to say, I'm hoping I don't have any storm fears too!! I was shaking for a good long while after the fact!!

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    • Sally says

      I am so glad that you didn't have any damage in your storms! When nature gets all cranked up....it's a scary force and it sure is a helpless feeling!

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    • Sally says

      I've worked SO hard on trying to get Rugby to trust me enough to know that I'm his safe person! I was so glad that someone was home when this happened, so that he didn't have the fear of trying to deal with it all alone!!

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  10. says

    Terribly sorry about all the storm damage (we've been through a a Cat 1 hurricane that toppled trees on all sides of our house, but not on it, thankfully. It was SO scary, for the people and pets). What a good thing you had the thundershirt for sweet Rugby and that he did relatively OK. My little foster chichi would lose her mind, she hates storms. Best to you with the continued cleanup!

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    • Sally says

      Oh I cannot imagine living through a hurricane!! I just can't imagine the sound of the wind and trees falling on all sides!! I'm pretty sure I would have peed my pants!! Rugby just stresses so easily, and I always worry that a crisis will be too much for him, but he's one resilient little pooch!! Your wee chi reminds me of him in many ways from the things I've read about her! Bless them....so wish we could explain things in a way that they can understand!!

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  11. says

    Wow, that must have been so scary! That is a lot for Rugby to have to deal with, but I hopefully the clean up goes smoothly and things get back to normal soon. I'm glad everyone is safe! I love trees, but we recently had a huge one cut down because the branches were overhanging our bedroom. My husband was worried about the roof, but I have to admit, I was more worried about us.

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    • Sally says

      I'm not sure I'm going to see trees in quite the same way ever again!! I have absolutely LOVED our wooded backyard, but when high winds come along....and I know that they will....I'm sure my heart is going to beat a bit faster!! I'm in your camp....I'm not worried about the roof...I'm worried about US!!

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    • Sally says

      Poor Dexter with loud noises!! Rugby generally doesn't seem to be frightened with noise....but it just gets him overstimulated and he can't calm himself. The combination of people AND loud noises was just more than this poor little guy wanted to manage!

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  12. says

    Wow, that storm got you pretty good. I'm so glad no one was hurt. We are actually having severe thunderstorms here right now as I'm reading this - how fitting! Poor Rugby, he's been through a lot this month. My Husky has been hiding in the closet all evening with all the thunder.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    • Sally says

      I grew up in the Midwest, and have spent more than one afternoon/evening in the basement while a bad storm raged around us. However, in Tennessee...homes aren't really built with basements, because of all of the rock in the land here. I have to admit that I have felt a whole lot more helpless when bad storms have hit without having a basement to hide in! Rugby thought I was nuts making him huddle in the bathroom with me! Your Husky has the right idea!

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  13. says

    That's awful! What a mess. We've been having the storms here as well. I've come to just expect it to storm in the evenings. We had a tree struck by lightning in our yard. It is not a pretty sight! Gracie and I were out for a potty break minutes before it happened. It's scary to think what might have happened had we been out there. I found large pieces of wood stuck more than a foot into the ground. Several of our outdoor electrical appliances were fried as well.

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    • Sally says

      Those afternoon popup showers can be crazy, can't they? I was evaluating a dog one time when lightning struck a tree outside their house and that was really scary!! There was this eery green light that flashed with a huge CRACK! We just knew something got hit! I'm so very glad that you and Gracie weren't out in that! It really is a sobering thought to realize what could have been!! What a mess you had on your hands as well!!

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    • Sally says

      I'm sure I'm going to be watching trees in my yard a whole lot more closely from now on!! It was just crazy!! Sorry to give you that scary mental image, but it's not a bad thing to have that emergency plan in place!!

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  14. FiveSibesMom says

    Oh my, how frightening! I'm so glad you are all okay! And bravo to Rugby for trying to be so brave.

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    • Sally says

      It definitely got my heart pumping, that's for sure!! And you know, Rugby really WAS very brave with it all! I was really proud of him!!

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