NEBRASKAland July 2018

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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Page 48 of 59

L ook out – it's going to hit her in the face!" my older brother would say. "No, no, no – she's a hunting dog, she wants to hear it pop," my father would reply. The Brittany spaniel's name was Tammy, and she was my dad's dog, his hunting dog. Her favorite time of year was late June and early July when they started selling fireworks in Lincoln. Smoking cap sticks, ladyfingers, Black Cats, and her favorite – exploding pop- bottle rockets. She would stand over the bottle waiting for us to light the fuse – you would swear her nose was going to be hit when the rocket shot up out of the bottle. Then she would look up into the air, jumping and barking as she anticipated the report. She did not like duds. That was a long time ago, when we were young and my dad was hunting with her. But since then I've always wondered if other hunting dogs acted like that? Hunting dogs back then were, well, hunting dogs. We were not allowed to bring her into the house, especially in the winter. "It's not good for them," Dad would say. "She'll warm up and then have to go back outside in the cold." During those same years, my grandfather, who lived in Fairbury, had a neighbor down the alley whose hunting dogs were kept in a kennel. One day, we went to pet them and the owner came out and yelled, "Hey, don't pet those dogs – you'll spoil them!" Spoil them? I guess there are some differences between having a dog primarily for utility verses for pets. I have had two Brittanys since then: the first was a stray and she already knew how to hunt – not afraid of fireworks. The second, I had as a puppy, she never took to hunting – gun shy (probably my fault) – afraid of fireworks and loud noises. Today, our family has two dogs, both terriers: a Westie and a Cairn. Like most terriers, they are barkers (they emit 80 to 90 decibels every time a squirrel so much as farts in our backyard). And they hate fireworks. It seems they didn't mind them some years back as much. I remember my wife and I would take them for a walk in the neighborhood toward evening during this time of year and they would look around, but not seem so scared. What changed? Could it have been my neighbor up the street that puts on his own private $5,000 display each year that shakes our windows and sounds like artillery shells exploding over our house? Now I have to get tranquilizers from the vet each year for them and we have the great pleasure of seeing their third eyelid, the nictitating membrane come out of the corner of their eyes (see "The Third Eyelid" page 47, October 2007 NEBRASKAland). Oh, and their bladders must get super-sized because they are too scared to even go outside to relieve themselves. One year we even drove them out to Pioneer's Park thinking they would "go" as there would not be as much noise. There was less popping, and we saw others with their dogs there doing the same thing. So is there a fundamental difference between dogs that are accustomed to loud popping noises – like the sound of shotguns their owners shoot over their heads – and regular house dogs? As I sit here giving my dogs a dollop of cream cheese with a tranquilizer hidden inside, I look out and wonder how many hunting dogs are enjoying this evening like Tammy did. ■ See the NEBRASKAland article "The Third Eyelid" from 2007 – by visiting Fourth of July Fun for Dogs – Maybe? By Tim Reigert Are hunting dogs different than other dogs when it comes to noise? " JULY 2018 • NEBRASKAland 49

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