How My Four Dogs and I Are Preparing for Hurricane Sandy

I live in New York with my four dogs, and we're square in Sandy's path. Here are five things I'm doing to prepare.


My four dogs and I live in New York City, which as you’ve probably heard is bracing for Hurricane Sandy to make landfall on the East Coast today.

Amid the weather worries, I was reassured to learn the wonderful news, via the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, that thanks to the dedicated work of the alliance, the ASPCA, and several other animal-welfare groups, my home city’s emergency evacuation shelters will welcome pets along with their displaced people. Also, pets will be accepted on subways (when they’re running) and trains and taxis. (If you’re in New York and want to keep up on evacuation shelter locations, check the Office of Emergency Management’s Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder.)

As always, the excellent Muttshack Animal Rescue Foundation offers assistance to those coping with Sandy’s aftermath; anyone interested in volunteering to help animals in the affected areas — especially in and around Atlantic City and along the New Jersey shore — please contact Muttshack, which will connect you with the sanctioned rescue group(s) in your area that need help (for information, call 818-306-4800 or email [email protected]).

Already, stores throughout the city are emptied of necessities. I don’t want to overdo it, but neither do I want to be caught unprepared in the event that, say, a blackout dries up our water supply. Dogster has already outlined detailed pointers for disaster preparedness.

For safety’s sake, here are five further footnotes to that story, based on what I and my dogs have done in between securing windows. I hope these help and trust you’ll share your pointers in the comments.

1. Stock up on drinking water

Just the other day, after posting a status report on Facebook about stockpiling bottles of water, I fielded a comment from a “friend” to the tune of, “Oh, just fill up the tub and don’t contribute to plastic consumption.”

Easier said than done, alas — the genius who inhabited my apartment before me painted the bathtub with flat paint, which peels like mad, so the tub is utterly unusable as a drinking water storage vessel.

I hate plastic bottles as much as the next environmentally conscious person, and the supermarket in my hood happens to be having a special on Italian spring water in glass bottles. This Rocchetta water rocks, so I’ve been making water runs for the past couple of days.

2. Diversify my dogs’ diet

What if the terrible day comes (now or in the future) when there’s no kibble or canned food available? Obviously, in that case I want my dogs to be able to share my food safely, so I’ve been slowly acclimating them to sardines as a protein source — the kind packed in spring water, with no salt added.

The great news is that sardines agree with all my dogs, even the German Shepherd, Desiree, who has serious food allergy issues. In fact, her poop has never looked better! (Needless to say, the cats love sardines, too.)

Lately, I’ve baked sweet potatoes and kabocha squash for myself and shared the harvest bounty with my dogs, who all love these items.

3. Gear up for cleaning up

My female dogs don’t love “going” when it’s only mildly raining out, let alone an epic downpour. (The boys don’t have a problem with it — go figure.)

So just in case an accident should happen, I’ve stockpiled newspaper, paper towels, and plain white vinegar, which is a terrific natural disinfectant-cleaner.

4. Persistently prevent pests

Rudely outstaying their welcome long past the end of summer, the mosquitos refuse to pack up and migrate to warmer climates — they seem to be parked here for good. Just last night, I was slapping the buggers off my ankles while typing this!

I fully expect the mosquitos to be doing lots of stunt flying through the storm, with many crash landings on me and the dogs, so for heartworm prevention, I’m dabbing the dogs and myself with Neem oil every day — plus I’ve acquired an extra bottle of this potent oil for the emergency “go” bag, for my dogs and me to share if we’re forced to evacuate.

5. Keep the atmosphere calm

With all those ominous weather reports setting everyone’s nerves on edge, there’s nothing quite like lavender oil to palliate perturbed pupsters (or people). I’ll be dabbing this delightful essential oil on the pillows and blankets, so everyone has a chance of snoozing through the storm. Soothing harp music by Susan Raimond, designed to destress animals and people, will be at the ready, too.

Even more instrumental in keeping the dogs happily distracted are a few key playthings, including their recent favorite, Bionic Dog Toys. They also enjoy keeping themselves busy on rainy days with lots of aerobic wrassling (see photo).

Finally, to make sure the dogs always have tasty treats that I can also nip at when I need a nibble, we’ve all taken to munching on fresh carrots, as if trying to start our own cult of Bugs Bunny. The dogs now dig carrots so much, they sit politely for the crunchy orange handout, with me half expecting them to ask, “What’s up, Doc?” (Bananas are a close second in the favorite-treat department.)

How do you deal with impending disaster? Are you on the Eastern Seaboard? Please share your coping mechanisms in the comments!

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