Sadly Tigg escaped from the yard while she was at work and the frightened, bewildered dog, ran for his life.
Sadly, his frenzied fear led him into harms way and he died as the result of an accident, though it took a day or so, for Amanda to find his whereabouts and recover his body.
Tigg is not alone with his fear and panic during thunderstorms, indeed, my nephew had two Jack Russells who escaped from our yard and fell victims to a busy road during thunderstorms.
Another friend finds it necessary to give her dog a sedative, when thunderstorms are forcast, such is her dog's level of anxiety and extreme panic.
Having listened to the inspiring and knowledgable Dr Hugh Wirth, for many years head of the RSPCA in Victoria, during his regular radio spot on the ABC's 774, Dr Wirth suggests it is vital we don't reward our dogs fear during thunderstorms with pats, cuddles and "poor boy/girl" behaviours of our own. Rather be very matter of fact with our dogs. "It's just a thunderstorm". Do your very best not to reinforce your dog's fear. Stay calm yourself!
I have heard him suggest playing recordings of thunderstorms regularly, to desensitize dogs to the scarry sounds. In extreme cases, he suggests sedation for dogs who really panic and become unpredictable and terrified.
Shortly after I acquired Whippet Boy, we experienced our first thunderstorm. Though I personally do not enjoy thunderstorms, having survived the experience of my Melbourne house taking a direct lightening hit and electrical appliances knocked out of service, I gritted my teeth and refrained from unplugging every appliance in the house. Instead I lay down on my couch, yawned a few times over and blinked slowly at my puppy, signalling him to relax and go to sleep.He obliged, despite the thunder and lightening, waking a couple of times only to be given the same yawn and long blink reassurance by me. He does jump a little at the sound of thunder still, but seems to be fairly relaxed. I can only trust he will never panic during a storm and attempt to escape the yard, in the case of my absence.
I choose to keep Whippet Boy secure in the house if I am at home during a thunderstorm, despite my best efforts to desensitize him to the sounds and sights of thunderstorms.
I urge everyone with a nervy or highly strung dog, to speak to their vet about how their dog reacts during thunder storms. I think my friend that chooses to sedate her dog when thunderstorms have been forcast is taking a precaution that maybe will save her dog from escaping her yard in a frightened state of panic.
Anyone who has ever lost a dog due to a thunderstorm knows the dreadful search for their pet. The lucky ones are found or return home unscathed. Sadly, way too many dogs in this situation, lose their lives on busy roads, or worse, are never again seen or recovered.
I urge every dog owner to take precautions and ensure your dog is safely inside with you if it is at all possible when a thunderstorm is in progress. At very least speak to your vet and be willing to sedate your fearful dog on days where storms are forcast. Truly "better safe than sorry"!
Further suggestions to keep uor pets safe during thunderstorms and fireworks can be found on the RSPCA website.