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How to keep your pets calm in a big storm

Fretting over winds we can’t stop appears to be a human characteristic.

With Hurricane Dorian eating up the airwaves and consuming barrels of ink on Friday, the tortoises, zebras, lions and monkeys at Aylesford’s Oaklawn Farm Zoo appeared unconcerned.

Staff there were checking to make sure the gas in generators was topped up and there was nothing for the coming winds to toss about.

Other than that, it was business as usual.

“They’re aware of it,” Gail Rogerson said of the animals.

“It’s people who seem to find it most difficult.”

To be fair to us humans, our lives are more tightly intertwined with the objects and systems that can abused by a big storm than animals.

Since founding the zoo with her husband Ron in 1984, the couple have weathered many big storms with their animals.

“Some of them don’t mind it,” said Roberston.

While most of the animals at Oaklawn Farm Zoo don't mind a little rain, pets can piggyback on their master's anxieties about the weather. - Ashley Thompson
While most of the animals at Oaklawn Farm Zoo don't mind a little rain, pets can piggyback on their master's anxieties about the weather. - Ashley Thompson

“If it’s cold they or it’s raining intensely they might go in their shelters.”

The animals who live with us however often adopt our own concerns about the weather.

At the Antigonish Veterinary Clinic they sell pheromone sprays and anti-anxiety supplements, over the counter and by prescription, for household pets. They can also order in “thunder shirts” that make a dog feel coddled during storms.

“Smaller animals seem to notice the pressure differential more acutely,” said Shyloe Ward, a veterinary assistant at the clinic.

“The vibrations from thunder and lighting also stress some animals.”

But while there was a rush to the town’s grocery stores on Friday in advance of the much touted hurricane, they weren’t busier than usual at the clinic.

So what’s the lesson for us from the animal kingdom?

The Holstein cows lying down in fields around Antigonish County on Friday seemed to have a good idea.

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