The Dogs of Diwali

I’m a big party pooper when it comes to Diwali. I actively discourage the buying of crackers and we do not buy or burst crackers on Diwali/News Years. When I was a child I did burst firecrackers and enjoyed it too. But I haven’t bought or burst a fire cracker for over 13 years, so I think I’ve paid my debt. Many children in schools today are made more aware of the hazardous conditions of workers in the Indian firecracker industry and the illegal use of child labour to keep up with the demand. Now that we live on a Naval base, technically one is not allowed to burst crackers from a personal safety point of view, not really a security stance. But quite a few people ignore this rule and burst crackers although I feel the intensity is far less than in the civilian world. Why do the firecrackers sound louder these days than they did when I was a child? Perhaps I’m growing old…

Although I’ve never been in a war zone or had bombs and rapid gunfire going off around me, I think it would sound a lot like Diwali – without the colours and women and children dressed in highly flammable clothing. But I’m human, I’m accustomed to the crazy ways of my species. But my poor dog at home and the thousands of dogs living on the streets probably do think that once a year a war breaks out in their neighbourhood.

Dogs hear some sounds 40 times louder than humans. For our Abroozi’s first Diwali when he was 5 months old, he didn’t pay any heed to the crackers going off around him. But now that he’s two and a half years old he is unmistakably petrified of the random, unpredictable loud bangs and hisses. As a child you fear nothing. But as you grow older there is so much more to fear, you know far too much about what can go wrong. And it’s the same with dogs. I’ve been reading about some fatal reactions to Diwali crackers and it is very distressing to imagine being in a situation where everything that you have learned and all of your life experiences cease to make sense.

Some dogs take refuge under beds, sofas, in cupboards. Others howl and bark incessantly. Our little boy was very distressed if the three of us were not in the same place when the crackers were going off, perhaps he felt we would be safer if we were all together. So when I was in the kitchen and my husband in the bedroom, Abroozi was desperate to keep us all together. He didn’t bark or whine but he was crouched very close between us and breathing rapidly.

There’s plenty of articles in newspapers about how to keep your dogs safe during Diwali and lessen the trauma they face. The worst thing you can do is to console your dog by petting him when he is distressed. This just reinforces his fear, and validates it. One must just go about the day as normal and project a calm energy. But I would not to leave your dog at home alone. Another good tip is to close all the windows, put the air-conditioning on and the TV loud to drown out the noise of the crackers going off.

While the western world “Occupies” their respective money making meccas, the dogs in India are out the night after Diwali, barking in to the wee morning hours, taking revenge for the firecrackers. They are trying to rally the cows for a ground surge and the crows for aerial bombardment. “Home Minister         P. Chidambaram criticized the dogs for planning attacks that had an element of surprise: ‘Dogs know that such crackers are burst only on Diwali and New Year’s Day, and they can prepare well in advance. It’s wrong if they launch their attack without informing the human beings.'”

Here’s our Abroozi taking refuge under the covers…

Abroozi taking refuge under the covers


About nonsense girl

Galley slave, qualitative researcher working in development, married my best friend, writing about my life, my family, my dog, TV, Indian culture, astronomy and my garden.
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4 Responses to The Dogs of Diwali

  1. gkorula says:

    Didn’t know about the animal cruelty charges… that’s a shame…

  2. gkorula says:

    If you are a believer in Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, then I’d say you’ve answered your own question. He can sense your disgruntled energy every time there’s noise upstairs and he picks up on that for sure. I guarantee that if you stopped caring about what went on upstairs, he will too. Or do something else like turn on music, TV, get your mind off it. There was an episode of Dog Whisperer where this perfect Golden Retriever, really perfect, would go in to a complete panic only when the ‘father” was working with his drill in the garage. Turns out it was not the drill sound but that the “mother” would get really pissed off that her husband was working in the garage when they could have been spending time together. She was jealous of the garage and the dog picked up on that and reacted. Once the mother changed her attitude to her husband’s pass time, the dog totally changed as well. (I’m a Cesar Millan fan, can you tell?!)

    • J Darling says:

      Yeah – I “solved” it by doing something else when they get really noisey – watching TV, listening to music, etc. It usually works, but we all have days when things irk us. I just started watching The Dog Whisperer. There are places where we agree and places where we disagree in our dog training methodology. Luckily, Clydas is a respectful pooch. I’m touching up his obedience so he can be a therapy dog! I figure that will give us a good way to give back to the community when my husband is deployed – and Clydas LOVES everybody.
      The biggest point I agree with Ceasar on (that so many dog owners don’t understand) is that the dog NEEDS TO BE WALKED EVERY DAY, regardless of weather. Clydas and I live in Washington State – a climate that is often cold, rainy, and occasionally snowy. But we walk a mile (with hills) every day, and he gets undivided play time with me after work. Once I figured out his needs, his Boxer energy became so much more pleasurable to manage. I think that’s the ideal way to work out a dog (one on one with the family) rather than a treadmill or the like. And I do agree with his basic ideas of misdirection. I’ve naturally always used it with my dogs (and kids I’ve babysat for too). Instead of just saying,”No” or “hey” (it’s my Tssst sound), I give him something else to do. If I just stay “stay out of the kitchen,” it’s harder on him than if I tell him to sit when I go into the kitchen. One tells him what not to do, and the other gives him something else to do. And I got lucky – Clydas doesn’t have dominance issues with me. He was with my husband when he came on the scene, but once I recognized what was going on, I let him know and they took care of it.:)
      Unfortunately, once Ceasar’s clinic was charged with Animal Cruelty a few years back, he lost credence with me. It may have been a one time thing, but it was completely preventable and fell under the “he should have known better; I know better!” category, It nearly killed the dog.

  3. J Darling says:

    Too cute! Maybe I lucked out…
    While my boxer (Clydas) notices sounds, he’s RARELY afraid of things like fireworks, etc. It’s taken him a while to get used to the sounds of living in a downstairs apartment – especially when one of the upstairs neighbors includes a special needs 7 year old who bangs her head against the walls on a daily basis (God I hope they move when their lease is up this month, but it doesn’t look like it). Clydas has been to fireworks displays, doesn’t howl at sirens, doesn’t bark with other dogs (though he is very interested in the noise). He’s been to Disneyland with me more times than I can count. Then again, the noise upstairs bugs me sometimes (can ya tell? lol), but other loud noises don’t bug me at all, so maybe he’s just really in tune with me. After all, I work from home, so he has spent nearly every waking (and sleeping) hour with me over the last 7 years.

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