I just got back home after spending a few days in a hotel in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The reason for my sudden vacation was that Hurricane Sandy punched New Jersey in the gut last week, causing devastation state-wide which included wiping out power lines everywhere.
I was one of the lucky ones. My house only sustained minor damage and I lost only power (and not property or life).
This storm taught me a few valuable lessons.
1. It’s much better to be over prepared and under effected than over confident and under water.
2. One day without heat is a mild inconvenience, two days without heat is annoying, and three plus days without heat just plain sucks.
3. Dogs are pretty amazing and wonderful.
A full two days before Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the coast of New Jersey, my dog Hayley showed some signs of anxiety.
Hayley is a good natured, well-behaved eleven-year-old pit bull that I’ve had shared my life with for the last ten years. At this age she’s a pretty chill dog that takes everything in stride. She’s only been visibly anxious a handful of times and has never had any storm or thunder phobia whatsoever.
One night my wife and I were in bed watching the news coverage of the then approaching hurricane. The storm was still about 500 miles South and although it was a little cloudy, you would never know a storm of this magnitude was approaching.
You would never know if you were a human that is. However, if you were a dog you could feel the incoming energy all around you. At least that’s what I think after watching Hayley that night.
While my wife and I were watching the hurricane coverage that night, Hayley was laying between my legs, under the covers in our bed – a position she assumed on just about every evening, where she snored happily until it was time to go to bed for the night.
This night, however, she was different. Instead of dozing, happy to be in her favorite place she was shaking non-stop.
Concerned, I looked her over and couldn’t find anything physically wrong with her. Still worried I performed my standard two part test to determine if I should bring her into the emergency vet.
Part one, I brought her downstairs and offered her a treat, which she took eagerly.
Part two, I took her out for a short walk, where she acted pretty normal.
Since she was eating and doing the things she normally did, I was confident that nothing serious was wrong with her. Hayley spent the rest of the night shaking on and off.
The next morning, she was pretty much her old self again.
At the time her behavior was very confusing to me, now however, I believe she was feeling the energy of the rapidly approaching hurricane and was letting me know that something bad was coming.
Although I was physically prepared for Hurricane Sandy, I was not at all mentally ready for the experience of a category 1 hurricane first hand.
The storm hit us full strength on Monday night around 8pm and beat us up way into the morning hours. The strongest winds in my town of Bloomfield were clocked at 88 MPH. There really is no way that I could accurately describe to you the force of that kind of wind slamming into your house. Just take my word that it was terrifying.
My wife and I moved our kids downstairs into the living room for the night because we were afraid that one of the large trees that circled our house was going to fall on top of us.
The winds partially ripped off a ten foot piece of aluminum siding from the house and the hanging piece beat against the side of the house relentlessly all night long.
Sleep was impossible for my wife and I (miraculously our kids slept through the worst of it). We just sat huddled together in the living room scared that Sandy would at any minute rip open our little house.
During the entire time the storm was raging outside our house, there was only one of us inside that kept her cool. Hayley.
While the storm was upon us and my wife and I were crapping our pants, Hayley was there with us, unaffected by the chaos outside. She showed none of the anxiety that she exhibited only a day ago, but was calm and stable.
She was our rock.
Her silent strength comforted Michele and I and helped us make it through that horrible night without losing our minds. Hayley’s calm presence reassured us that everything would be okay.
As has happened so often in my life, Hayley was exactly what I needed, exactly when I need it most.
Research has proven that dogs can have a calming effect on people but nothing proved it to me more than the night that Hurricane Sandy came to visit.
Do you have any similar stories? Please share them in the comments. I would love to hear them.