Thursday, July 16, 2015

Rack Wants to Know Is It Raining Or Not - Training Your Dog With Thunderstorms On The Radio

It was a long day.

Up at 5 AM as usual, we get more done before breakfast than most people do.

All day long, I'm helped by Rack, my McNab SuperDog (TM).

He generally stays in his crate.  I don't think it is fear until the weather approaches.   At that point, all bets are off.

South Florida is a very flat landscape.  Other than the well distributed "Mount Trashmore" trash piles that are making Methane to partially power the trash trucks, the tallest things you see here are buildings and palm trees.  It's similar to driving across the midwest where you see the next town down the way because you spot the Grain Elevator.  Here it's the next city's high rise towers off in the distance.

Get to the top of a road overpass, and you can spot things 20 or 30 miles away.  You can't quite see Miami or West Palm Beach from here, normally, but you can see pretty close to it.

Turn the other direction at the right time of day and you can see where the weather is coming from.

This is all very different from Key West, where everything is so closely packed together, you won't get any breezes at all unless there is a strong wind overhead.  That and the temperature is a good 5 degrees hotter than it should be.

Looking West from the house, I'm looking over top of a few low rise houses, a few businesses, and then off into the great beyond.  That generally means the Everglades, although the River Of Grass doesn't show anything directly.  That wall of orange-red Poinciana blossoms and a solid 15 miles of city are between me and The Glades.

But the weather I can see approach.

The point is that it really is that flat.  The next hill of any note on the interstate roads is at the high school in Titusville Florida, about 200 miles away just off I-95.

So a storm cloud can be seen a long way off.  So can the thunder. 

The weather tends to bubble up these pop up storms that we can't really hear and look like a cloud on the horizon. 

But, Rack can hear them. 

Since he's afraid of his own shadow but getting better, he tends to be on guard.  I do my best by running music off the radio to drown some of it out, but all that does is distract me from my own routine. 

The last time storms were approaching, I cut short a phone call from a friend, then got the dog walk in.  No flashes at all, but Rack heard them coming.  He pulled me around the city on a shorter than usual walk, and we came back.  I knew he heard them because once I opened the door, he trotted through the house to the bedroom and plopped next to the bed, quickly.

Instead of listening to more music before bed, I reached for the remote on the internet radio and found the sound effects menu.

You guessed it.  "Rain and Thunderstorms".

I couldn't even hear the program.  The speakers have no amplifier so anything played is decidedly background.

Until the thunder started.   That was just a little bit louder than background, but not really what anyone would call "loud".

Rack noticed.  Laying "over there" by the closet, he cocked his head.  Looking up in the direction of the unmoving speakers, he was trying to stare it down.  It was doing its best to keep the house from being silent.

Another thunderclap came from the speakers.  It was doing its best to sound like a storm more than 5 miles away.  Maybe 10. I didn't see the flash.

More head tilts.  We were onto something. 

Then I started hearing the rain.  First from the speakers, then from outside.  It was really raining.  I turned off the internet radio.  It seemed both like gilding the lily and bordering on the cruel.  We had a "Pixel Storm" that was too small to register on Radar other than a little green dot. 

But Rack knew it was coming.  I guess that was what was up.

So if you happen to visit and it sounds like a storm is approaching and the sun is out, it could be Weird Florida Weather.

Or it could just be that I've got the internet radio playing back in the master bedroom.

Your choice.

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