Guy Fawkes-5th of November
Every year we celebrate Guy Fawkes on the 5th of November by making bonfires and lighting fireworks but what are we really celebrating?
What happened all those years ago?
It was the Jacobean era and under the rule of protestant and outwardly gay King James the 1st, William Shakespeare wrote some of his most prominent plays, the bible was edited to the authorised King James version, Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei were bringing the Copernican revolution to a new development and Francis Bacon was helping modern science evolve using investigation.
Some provincial English Catholics, decided to try and assassinate the king by placing 36 barrels of gunpowder under The House of Lords in order to put Princess Elizabeth on the throne as a catholic monarch. Guy Fawkes was to light the fuse to cause an explosion and escape by crossing the Thames river. He was caught, questioned, tortured and died just before his execution by falling off the very gallow he was to be hanged from. The people of London were encouraged to celebrate the king’s escape from the assassination by lighting bonfires.
Guy Fawkes has other controversial issues and research studies show that the loud sounds of fireworks have an adverse effect on wild animals as well as domestic animals. Compared to the 20 Hz – 23 KHz range that a human can hear, dogs can hear 60 Hz – 45 KH and cats can hear 45 Hz – 64 KHz.
To give you a practical example of this: 64 Hz (roughly the lowest note a dog can hear) is the pitch of the lowest key on a piano. For every doubling in Hz, the pitch goes up an octave. Cats, with the top range of 64 KHz vs 23 in humans, can thus hear sounds at least two and a half octaves higher than humans can! This is why dogs and cats respond to dog whistles. The sound is too high for us to hear, but still within their hearing range.
Cats and dogs also respond to a much lower intensity of sound than humans. Sound intensity is measured in decibels (dB). Dogs can hear five times more acutely than humans; and cats about twice as acutely as dogs. Like Hz, dB also increases exponentially, so 30 dB is ten times as loud as 20 dB, and 40 dB is 100 times as loud. A practical example is that a whisper weighs in at about 30 dB, and a dog can hear that from almost three times as far away as a human. Cats are even more sensitive than dogs to these soft sounds. This also explains why dogs and cats are so scared by the sound of fireworks which, to us, do not seem so loud. They are in fact at least 5 times louder to our pets! Dr M. E. de Vries (BVSc)
Loud noises inflict fear, stress and anxiety in animals and can cause them to flee into danger zones like roadways. Other documented effects include nesting birds and other small mammal parents abandoning their nests and leaving their defenseless babies behind. The panic can sometimes cause so much disorientation that wildlife parents cannot locate their nests and their babies die. Panic and disorientation from fireworks noise has also resulted in birds flying into windows and buildings, or too far out to sea to escape the noise. Animals can also become entangled in remnants of large fireworks, or ingest pieces, and scavenging animals (both birds and mammals) ingest debris, usually resulting in death.
Errant fireworks can also cause environmental damage though fires, and from the release of poisonous chemicals and particle-laden smoke, which is not just inhaled by wildlife, but contaminates the natural environment.
Please ensure your pets are safe and kept inside if fireworks are being let off close by.Make sure that windows and any other form of escape are closed. Prepare a ‘den’ for your pet where it can feel safe and comfortable – perhaps under a bed with some of your old clothes. They may like to hide there when the fireworks start. Let your pet pace around, whine, miaow and hide in a corner if they want to. Do not try to coax them out – it’s just trying to find safety, and should not be disturbed. Stay calm, act normally and give lots of praise for calm behaviour. It’s OK to cuddle and stroke your pet if it helps them relax, but if they prefer to hide under your bed, then let them do this instead.
Avoid leaving your pet alone during such potentially upsetting events. If you do have to leave the house, don’t get angry with your pet if you find they have been destructive or toileted after being left on his or her own. Shouting at a frightened pet will only make them more stressed. Don’t tie your dog up outside while fireworks are being let off, ie outside a shop while you pop inside, or leave them in the garden or in your car. Never take your dog to a fireworks display. Even if they don’t bark or whimper at the noise, it doesn’t mean they are happy. Excessive panting and yawning can indicate that your dog is stressed. Please be prepared for the 5th of November.