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Dear Stanley,

My mum and dad keep going on about bonfire night and looking at me and turning white! I am a bit worried by their reaction – what happens on this “bonfire night”, I hope it doesnt hurt? Also, are there monsters about on bonfire night because I’m sure they said I wont be allowed out? It all sounds very scary.

With love,
Jasper Pup x


Dear Jasper,

Ah bonfire night – what a to-do that is! Apparently it started years ago when some people unsuccessfully tried to blow up all the politicians in Parliament, which even Colin thinks was a trifle extreme (he dislikes politicians so much that when he’s filling up a poo bag he tells people he’s collecting for the Politicians’ Welfare Fund!).

Anyway, ever since people have marked the day by lighting big bonfires and, whilst the fires aren’t much of a problem, the bangs, crashes and screetches of the fireworks that accompany them can be a right old pain in the proverbial, I can tell you.

But I’ll let you in to a secret – most dogs can get used to them and their blinkin’ noise. Take me, for example. I’m not really bothered by all their noise and that’s because when I first came across them I was distracted, with my mind on other things – namely catching the pesky fox that lives at the end of our garden. On the night in question, I raced out of the back door and off into the garden to chase down Mr Reynard who was hanging around in the bushes at the bottom.

Just as I did so, loads of those rocket things started exploding all over the sky, lighting up the night and making a right old din, they were. But I can tell you, the flashes and bangs to the left and right weren’t going to put me off my quest and I just carried down the lawn regardless, barking as I went, and “charging towards the sound of gunfire”, as a proud Colin was later to describe it.

Indeed, he got very animated by it all and as I galloped along he called after me, “Go Stanley! Forward the brave Borderers!” Sadly the fox got away over the wall, but I’m proud to report that I came through my baptism of fire with my reputation enhanced and any fear of pyrotechnics well and truly put to rest.

You see, such is our affection for humans that we put up with a lot of their nonsense (tight-fitting Christmas coats, or pretend antlers come instantly to mind), and that includes all the noisy things they’ve invented to kill each other and the rest of the animal kingdom. They take us with them to war and to hunt, and we’ve proved we can get used to all kinds, be they big guns, little guns, shotguns or banging fireworks. But only, you should note, if our folks help us and train us to.

You see, the first time you hear a firework go off outside, you’ll look at your folks to see their reaction; if they go into a blind panic, howling and screaming, so will you. But if they smile at you and say, “Don’t worry Jasper, it’s only a firework, it won’t hurt you – here’s a treat,” you should be fine, and actually looking forward to the next bang/treat combination. But a word of warning here – the banging can go on all night, and indeed for a few nights, so expect them to ease back on the treats, I would.

Of course, if you’re on your own when all the fuss starts, it’s not the same and you may become very stressed. So on your first bonfire night, make sure that someone stays in with you – and make sure their treat bag is full.

Let me know how you go on.

Yours,
Stanley
(Boom boom!)

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