The torture of fireworks


I think it is now finally over for another year.

For the last 15 nights, my wife, myself and our dog Rusty have had to endure the sheer torture that fireworks cause all pet owners.

For 13 of those nights there have been fireworks, usually not before 6pm and not after 9.30pm, except Saturday, November 9, when some local wag(s) thought it clever to set off the loudest fireworks of all at 11.10pm. The result? Rusty was quivering and shaking with terror.

Is torture too strong a word to use? I don’t think so. It is entirely apt.

As soon as it gets dark we begin to get tense and edgy. Will there be fireworks tonight? When will they start? How long will they last? How close and how loud will they be?

It is the not knowing which is the worst part, and because you don’t know you cannot prepare.

Before anyone thinks we are killjoys, let me confirm that my wife and I love firework displays. We hail from Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, where Guy Fawkes lived and where, on November 5, they celebrate Plot Night with bonfires, fireworks and treats just like everywhere else, but they do not burn a guy.

Whatever you call it – Bonfire Night, Guy Fawkes Night, Plot Night – the clue is in the title. It is supposed to be celebrated on one particular night – November 5. It is not bonfire week, or bonfire fortnight, or the 12 days of fireworks. Spreading it over a longer period of time merely dilutes the magic.

Even when November 5 is in midweek like this year, why can’t the celebrations be limited to that particular night? Children will still be in bed by say 9pm, so it will not affect school the next day.

Speaking to other pet owners over the last few weeks, I believe the laws regarding the sale of fireworks and the displays themselves should be changed.

Fireworks should only be sold to bona-fide groups or organisations and not to the general public.

Firework displays for Bonfire Night should be held on November 5 and should start no sooner than 6pm and end by 9pm.

For all other firework displays, the organisers should have to buy a licence and must advertise when and where the display will take place. This will enable pet and livestock owners to take the necessary steps to protect their animals.

How is Rusty? He is still frightened. He is now scared of all sudden loud noises – a gate banging shut, a car door being slammed, or as happened the other day at Wooler Common, when a walker was banging his boots together to rid them of mud. From past experience, it will take five or six weeks for him to settle down again. Just in time for New Year when the fireworks begin again.