One owner's account of the effect that fireworks have on his dog's welfare, and why it's time for the sale of fireworks to be banned
It used to be the time of year dog owners absolutely hated.
Bonfire Night was an annual torment, a date in the calendar that made the heart sink.
Now, as the agony that is November 5 rolls around once again, I know it’s just the most sickening low in what has become a year-long diary of dread.
The fireworks frenzy that sends pets into a state of almost unimaginable terror may be at its worst on Guy Fawkes Night, but those agonies are revisited time and time again.
New Year’s Eve? Let’s see out the old with a barrage of bangs.
Footballing success? The perfect time, it seems, to put a rocket up your rivals by setting off a decibel-busting display.
Halloween? Heck, why not add to the merriment? Don’t just traipse round houses increasingly looking like they’ve been decorated by a Hollywood set designer, but light them up with a noisy aerial extravaganza.
The latter, I’ve got to say, was the final straw. This year we didn’t even get to the misery of Bonfire Night before a Halloween horror show of bangs left my dog a shaking, cowering wreck.
So, quite frankly, it’s got to stop and Vets Now’s calls for a ban on stores selling fireworks has to be introduced. It’s a plea that pet owners overwhelmingly support, with 83% of those polled backing it.
And when it comes to public displays, Vets Now surely have just as much support for calls for councils to use silent fireworks at their organised displays.
I’ll be honest: until Maisie came along, I didn’t quite get it, didn’t fully understand the impact fireworks can have on animals.
She’s the brightest, bubbliest bundle of fluff you can imagine. A Labradoodle with a love of life who puts a smile on the face of all she meets.
But one bang changed all that.
She’s two now and a toilet trip to the back garden as a pup coincided with a fireworks explosion that shook the house, and her, to her core.
Ever since, the most distant pyrotechnic puts her tail down and sends her scurrying for cover. A dog usually so full of play is suddenly a pitiful sight, burying her head in the corner of the couch.
It is, quite simply, heart-breaking.
And I’m far from alone. All across the land, pet owners see their animals transformed almost unrecognisably.
Distressing tales abound of dogs bolting into the night in terror or, even worse, under the wheels of passing cars. Dogs are literally sick with fear.
It was bad enough when you knew it was one night to be endured with the telly turned up and reassuring cuddles a constant.
But it’s not that anymore. I know, as Bonfire Night is a Friday this year, it’ll be an invitation for some to make a weekend of it.
We’ll see the year out in a cacophony that causes nothing but dismay.
And then there are all those other random occasions. I still can’t see what football fans got out of setting off deafening rockets in the bright sunshine of a late spring afternoon.
But I do know the fear they caused.
Enough is enough. It’s time we lived up to our reputation as a nation of animal lovers and put an end to what has become so much more than a night from hell.