Gun Shy On the 4th of July

I love fireworks, but this year, I’ll be doing everything I can to avoid a big show. It’s not even the 4th yet and my poor little dog Dio is already coming unglued.

Three and a half years ago, I found Dio – or he found me – out on a hike in Monument Valley. Back then he was a scraggly, starving, stinking wild dog and his list of phobias included men, sticks, running water, brooms, bridges, cars and gun fire.

I’m a big believer in training dogs by example and Bowie has been a great role model for Dio. Just by watching Bowie, Dio has decided for himself that men are good for petting, sticks are good for chasing, running water is good for swimming, brooms and bridges are no big deal, and that cars are good for exploring. Gun fire, however – which doesn’t phase Bowie – still reduces Dio to a quivering mess. In his world, fireworks might as well be a firing squad.

Dio’s not just afraid of the noise; he seems to also know the consequences. I am convinced he saw another dog get shot, back in his wild desert dog days. When Dio hears gunfire, he takes cover, hiding under anything he can. He’s most fearful in open country, like the desert. Last week, hiking in the deep, thick Oregon woods a few shots in the distance turned his head, but he kept right on trotting down the trail, relatively unconcerned. Camping just north of Portland last night, a few errant pops from early fireworks sent him burrowing under the bed inside the Teardrop.

So what can I do to avoid fireworks? Head to Mount Rainier National Park and then on to Canada! Has anybody driven into Canada lately, with dogs and/or an RV? I have my passport, an “on assignment” letter from my editor, and rabies certificates for the dogs. What else? Warnings, tips & suggestions welcome! Happy 4th!

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at
This entry was posted in Beyond the USA, Bowie & D.O.G., Hiking!, Photography, Road tripping!, Uncategorized, Vagabonding 101. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Gun Shy On the 4th of July

  1. Gunta says:

    I traveled with my Siberian Husky from California through Canada from Coast to Coast with absolutely no problems (actually never gave the border crossing a thought), but that was back in 1979, so I imagine my experience wouldn’t apply now. Happy trails…

  2. You’re lucky, if you drove into canada 3 days ago there would have been plenty of fireworks, as July 1st is Canada Day. You could try a government website if you’re unsure of border regulations! 🙂

  3. Don West says:

    I’m glad Dio is much better and happier now 🙂 I know he loves you dearly for saving him and Bowie for being his buddy. Unfortunately, I’ve never been to Canada with an animal so no clue on that. But, Hilary’s suggestion sounds solid. They may need vet records of vaccinations. Can’t imagine there would be anything else though. Keep us posted and have a great, quiet 4th 🙂

  4. Tammy says:

    I’m Canadian, and recently have travelled back and forth between USA and Canada over the past 4 months and have done 4 boarder crossings with my two cats. Never a problem. Neither boader side ever asked for papers, shots, or anything for the animals. Just my passport and where l was going.

    Good Luck, and Enjoy the West Coast……it’s beautiful.

  5. Laurel says:

    You will need the rabies certificates. The border guards may not ask but it is a requirement to get through both US and Canadian customs. No other vaccines are required. We just crossed back and forth 4 times and did not have to produce the papers but we had them with us just in case. Our little dog Abby is also a mess when she hears thunder and fireworks. We have had to get her some mild tranquilizers so she can learn to cope and that she knows the noise will not hurt her.
    Have fun in Canada. If you will be in BC or Alberta I would recommend Waterton National Park, the sister park to Glacier in the US. It has great hikes and is very beautiful!

  6. amberlife says:

    Brought a tear to my eye this morning. What a wonderful story of finding Dio and how right you are that it was meant to be. These things always are – fate and karma. Happy 4th of July from across the pond. x

  7. nutsfortreasure says:

    Let me take some of that worry from your heart. Your “found pup” did not have to see anything horrible. I have been beside my pup since she was 8 weeks old and like your dog ours is so fearful of loud noise. I never make a big deal about thunder, etc. but she did have two occasions, while right beside me, where she got totally spooked.

    We were walking the beach in an area where fireworks are NOT PERMITTED and someone up above us a midnight let off one that went off over our heads, real bright and LOUD. The other was when we were in AZ and we were over where they re-enact the Shootout at the OK Coral and someone shot a Blank from a pistol. She was scared to death.

    I know now with thunder same thing as your pup. Under a table at my feet, wanting to be a puppy again climbing up to feel safe in my arms.

    They sell this dog jacket “Thunder Suit” that i comes with a money back promise I have seriously thought of getting for our JT. I hate to watch our dog worry so much. She is a border collie and so smart but is completely brought to her knees as your Dio.

    So like you I love Fireworks on the 4th but we will watch from a distance, as they go off over the beach and I will hold her and pet her and reassure all is OK

    For us it will not end with tonight as our state allows the sale of them so it will be a LONG SUMMER maybe I will look up the Thunder Suit.

    Happy Forth of July

  8. Nancy says:

    We drove into Alberta, crossing at Sweetgrass both to and fro, last September with Punkin, our Australian Shep. mix guessed, travel pal… who loves to “go for a ride” whenever and/or wherever… I wasn’t sure what to do as prep. so I actually got a health certificate from the vet. Turned out all they checked was the rabies certificate, both into Canada and Alaska. I’ve been enjoying your blog since discovering it via the “Tiny House” blog BTW – Thanks and happy travelin’!

  9. Alice says:

    The fireworks ban here in Colorado (because of fire danger) seems to be working. I have the happiest dogs.

  10. Joni says:

    I love that you go the extra miles to get away from things that scare your furry family member. I’ve never understood why people get dogs if they leave them out or tied up all the time and never spend time with them (there are several in my neighborhood). I’ve got “twins” part Schnauzer; one is big and brave and the other is super timid about most things. My daughter and I share custody of them since she got married. I get her schedule for work (she’s a pharmacist) and I am at her house to pick them up for babysitting when she works days. They are my “grandbabies”. I admire the way your dogs are members of your family. Happy “quiet” 4th.
    Take care,

  11. Annie says:

    I live in Alberta and I’m crossing into Montana this coming weekend. I called the border crossing folks and they suggested a health certificate as well as proof of a rabies certificate. The health certs are only good for 30 days. The vet today told me many times they won’t ask for the papers but some guards and crossings do. He has had clients have to turn around and get them before they can cross. So to be on the safe side and no hassles, you might want both. Happy travels with the dogs!! They will love the cooler weather up here. No heartworms here either!

  12. Bidison says:

    I traveled to Canada in November with my dog. As required per this Canadian website (, we made sure our rabies certificate was signed and dated by a veterinarian. But no one ever looked at the certificate when we crossed.

    I have been reading your blog since finding it on the Tiny House blog, and it has been a great source of inspiration. Thank you for sharing your travels!

  13. Pingback: Behold, the Tetons! | Travels with the Blonde Coyote

Comments are closed.