Thundershirts and Quilts for the Fourth

“I always have the most fun on the Fourth of July. You don’t have to exchange any gifts. You just go to the beach and watch fireworks.”    -James Lafferty

 Linda Nelson Johnson- Fourth of July hand dyed fabric with metallic thread

Learning How to Celebrate

We were just married. Inexperienced. Not thinking things through. My husband and I bundled the baby and toddler for a night of watching fireworks from the balcony deck of friends. It had been a glorious two hours of “oooooh”, and “aaaaahhh” as the colors lit the sky and the explosions stayed far away from tender ears. Easing the car back into our driveway, our happiness evaporated like the fizzle of a rocket gone wrong.

Remembering Our Canine Friends

Our German Shephard had scratched and bitten off part of the house’s siding trying to get away from the firework noises in our usually quiet neighborhood. We had left him outside in our fenced in yard so he wouldn’t be cooped up for the two hours in the house. Poor Skipper. He just quivered and shook.

We learned our lesson. And we learned about quilts for dogs. They are called Thundershirts. These snug-fitting shirts act like quilts do for humans. This is a drug-free option for dogs who are afraid of loud noises. The shirts target pressure points, creating the protective feeling that a swaddled baby experiences. Getting the right size is crucial for this to work on a noisy night like the Fourth of July.

Holly Roseberry uses a Thundershirt for her pooch, Josie. “Every time I have put on the shirt, it has calmed her. She no longer stands in one place. It stops her panting and ‘wild eyes’.”  For a dog with anxiety, this is a cure that brings a holiday spirit to the whole family. It’s like cuddling in a quilt.


4th of July Quilt from Cluck Cluck Sew

Patriotic Designs

Sometimes, in these days of retirement and air conditioning, I like to snuggle under a quilt late in the evening on the Fourth of July and listen to the neighbors explode illegal rockets around me. There are so many designs for red, white, and blue that finding fabric for a new quilt will be a pleasure.

One year, a small group of friends and I sat upon a festive quilt on a hill side at the shores of Whitewater Lake in Wisconsin. The fireworks in the sky were mirrored in the lake’s water, sparkling the scene with a magical effect. A church camp nearby produced the choruses of “oooohh” and “aahhh”. It is one of my last memories as a college student at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Dogs and humans. Quilts on the Fourth of July can help with the anxiety, the loud noises while the fun of being together to celebrate Independence Day is increased. Still time to prepare for a patriotic display.

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4th, not with a parade of guns, tanks and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”—-Erma Bombeck

By Barbara Shates at the Contra Costa County Quilt Guild, California


Main Photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash


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