Like the Grinch, I hate noise.
My detestation for din is rooted in an awareness of what it usually portends.
There are a lot of loud sounds in the natural world: a pond full of enthusiastic frogs, an energetic waterfall or the crashing of ocean breakers. But these are still relatively pleasing to the ear. Noise is a word that, to my mind, usually describes something man-made: an un-muffled car or motorcycle revving its engine, a loaded logging truck using compression to slow down for a corner, a monotonous jackhammer, Ted Nugent’s screeching voice or, of course, gunfire. I suppose there are a few natural sounds that could rival man’s machinery—a major earthquake or perhaps a volcano going off. But, like the sources of anthropogenic racket, these are the upshot of highly destructive processes.
Being the adaptable, accomplished noisemakers they are, sometimes people can be conditioned to thinking they actually enjoy things that should be unsettling to their senses—a burst of firecrackers or a Ted Nugent concert. But most animals are naturally stressed or panicked by the nerve-racking report of a high-powered rifle or a bombardment of blasts. It’s not just that they have keener senses; they instinctively know that such noise spells danger.
A lot of dogs experience extreme anxiety from fireworks or the blare of gunfire, often because they have an intimate or innate understanding of their destructive capabilities. We adopted an older dog from a shelter in Montana whose mortal fear of firearms must have been the result of someone using her as a target in her earlier life. Keiko would tremble every time she heard a gunshot; she’d seek shelter and would be inconsolable until the shooters had called a cease fire.
One winter morning during duck hunting season, a crazed, relentless volley of shots was too much for her. She ran off, and though we looked for her everywhere for weeks, we never saw her again.