Zen Den

It’s that time of year in the Pacific Northwest when Mother Nature not only makes herself known in vivid color of riotous blossoms and 50 shades of green on every tree, but in storms that vie with the incredible Native American drums of thunder.

Willa used to get scared out of her wits when thunder crashed, banged, and boomed! Our Vet had us try homeopathic remedies, a calming prescription, and a “thunder shirt” — all to no avail. Then we created a “thunder bunker,” lovingly known as her Zen den.

Simple yet effective:

  1. We cover her crate with towels.
  2. She puts herself into it and we close the door just “to” — not latched.
  3. We listen for her to dig up her bedding, circle, and settle in.
  4. We turn on a large fan to cover the noise of the thunder and she sleeps through the storm.

Literal or figurative, when you’re scared or upset, where’s your Zen den?

© lauriebuchanan.com

52 thoughts on “Zen Den

  1. I don’t have a Zen den – I use as much of reality as I can as my place of peace.

    I just go for risk mitigation strategies.

    To the best of my abilities I don’t hide from any aspect of reality.

    I investigate any risk, any source of fear, as deeply as I can, question assumptions, and then find or create strategies to mitigate as much of that risk as possible, and accept whatever is left as that which is necessary.

    Last night we had a real NE gale, and there was that much noise and stuff blowing around that I got little sleep, and that is just the cost of living on top of a hill in an area that regularly gets very strong winds (over 70knots – 140km/hr) several times most years, and last night was one of them.

    • Ted — Holy Smokes! A mental picture of you lacing yourself and Ailsa to the ground like the Lilliputians did to Gulliver in my childhood book, Gulliver’s Travels, immediately came to mind 🙂

  2. She is so cute, a little bit like our Beano! It seems to me we’re having the tail end of your storms on and off: one day sunny, the next day very windy and wet (today is the latter). My bed is the best refuge, especially when I pull the duvet over my head to shut the world out!!!

  3. I know exactly how Willa feels. I love storms, but they can be scary and loud!
    When I find myself off-center in any way, and disturbed, usually just remembering who I really am can almost instantly restore a sense of peace. Answers to how to best deal with things come easier from that place. My ‘Zen Den’ is inside.

  4. Willa is fortunate to have you to protect and comfort her. I love the secure sanctuary you create for her in stormy times, the “thunder bunker” – how sweet! When my world crashes, bangs, and booms, I find refuge here: “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms . . . .” Deuteronomy 33:27. I call it my hug from God.

  5. I used to have an English setter who insisted the master closet was perfectly safe from all of life’s events. She was always there during thunder storms and on the Fourth of July.

    • Coldhandboyack — English Setters are beautiful and incredibly intelligent dogs. If she felt the closet in the master bedroom was safe, then by golly, that’s where I’d head too 🙂

  6. My dog Sam always panicked when thunder and lightining were about. But now he’s deaf and he doesn’t even know what’s happening! Me? I go down into my cozy basement when storms get big and noisy. I always take a good book and a glass of iced tea!

  7. Poor Willa! I can see her fear and see your care in that picture.

    As for me and my house, we turn to each other and to prayer in times of great fear or loss. I appreciate this image because it will help me understand the deep love under all the pain of living and dying.

    • Shirley — I oh-so-appreciate your comment today regarding “all the pain of living and dying.” My father passed away one week ago today. I’ll touch on that briefly a little bit next Tuesday, but your smack-dab in the bullseye with your wise observation, “We turn to each other and to prayer in times of great fear or loss.” Thank you so much for visiting today.

    • Chase & Chance’s Mom — Ohhhhhhhh, I love what you’ve shared here. An equestrian at heart, I’m aware of the tranquil energy that horses exude. It can sooth one down to their core 🙂

  8. How sweet, Laurie. I can see that Willa is loved and well-cared for. I don’t have a physical Zen-den but in times of trouble, my God and my journal are my refuge in the storm.

  9. What a great idea. We live near a lake that sets off fireworks every Fourth of July. All the nearby animals are terrified of the noise. A Zen Den would be perfect for that too.

  10. I can sure sympathize with Willa. Thunder here is not the loud crashes we were used to. It’s just this low, ominous rumble that goes on and on and on…Literally I guess my zen den is a bench by the lake (not during actual storms of course) — unfortunately right now it’s in the lake (completely covered). Figuratively I have this nice little place in the mountains I go to in meditation.

    • Espirational — I love that you have BOTH a literal (lake-side bench) and figurative (mountain place in your mind’s eye). Clearly, you’ve got the best of both words! 🙂

  11. Your Willa reminds me of our Chopper (when we were growing up.) Boy was Chopper a mess during thunderstorms! The den I spent most of this life seeking was an internal one. The inner place of “home” where one might still quake when thunder rattles and lightening strikes, yet one remains oddly at peace, at home, feeling the encompassing ok-ness of everything. Hugs, Laurie.

  12. Poor Willa! Storms can be very scary. I love your idea of the thunder bunker, and how great you found a place in which she can feel safe. One of our cats used to be terrified of storms. He would run and hide at the first rumble, sometimes even before we heard it. Now that he feels safe with us, he rarely hides during a storm. Last night when it was thundering here, he was on my husband’s chest.

    I guess when I need a place of refuge, it’s usually in bed with a book.

    • Merril — I love that your cat is now secure to stay on your husband’s chest during a storm. That says a whole heckofa lot! I, too, can find refuge in bed with a book (and a lit candle, just in case)….

  13. Our Bumble is such a funny little guy, he loves fireworks and thunder. I guess his zen den is anywhere at home, but preferably on the soft rug next to the living room sliding glass doors. My zen den is not a physical place…when it’s really scary I rush inward and soon enough I feel safe sitting in my center.

    • Tiny — What a great name, “Bumble.” The sliding glass doors are probably like his “Nature Channel” and the soft rug is most likely his version of a La-Z-Boy recliner. I like that your Zen Den is inward 🙂

  14. I had to really think about this one, and it was not until I read Tiny’s comment I realized my Zen Den is within myself. In times of stress I always pull back into myself.

  15. Laurie, I’m like Ted to a degree, if there is something frightening me, something physical that is, I want to check it out. I am not likely to hide in my bed with a homicidal maniac roaming my basement with a machete in hand. I’m gonna be out the front door and down the road before he knows I’m gone. When I am troubled by emotional or mental distress, I turn to that good standby, the 23 Psalm. “The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want….”

  16. Laurie, I just love seeing you in my inbox! Thank you for sharing the wonderful outcome of your efforts to help soothe another being’s distress. Like several others here, my Zen Den is within, but I take music with me too allowing the vibration and rythym soothe me.

  17. Ahh Laurie I have fell hook line and sinker in love with Willa . I feel so so, sorry for her and yet why with the most wonderful parents eva …your very own zen den . I want one , I have plans under the tree at the bottom of the garden . Unlike poor Willa I am not scared of the thunder and lightening …but have many other fears . Give her a great big kiss from her Aunty Cherry.

  18. Hi Laurie,

    I had to stop by and read this one. My dog Kayla is petrified of the thunder as well. I’ve tried the thundershirt and even given her Benadryl upon the recommendation of my vet as well but to no avail.

    She doesn’t have a crate though, I’ve never raised any of my dogs with one so I’ve never even owned one. At her age now I’m not sure she would take to that but my goodness, the nights it storms I rarely get any sleep. She just won’t settle down although I do my best to comfort her. It’s just she and I here so she sleeps with me every night.

    Might have to try something similar though so I appreciate having read this and what has helped Willa.


    • Adrienne – In our case, I think the secret is that we’ve not used the crate to hold Willa “captive” (so to speak). Dogs love having their own space; the move “cave” like, the better. Even when there’s no storms, we often find her in her Zen Den. We provide her with “bedding” that she turns into what looks like a horrible mess to us, but which satisfies her immensely. Thank you so much visiting 🙂

  19. The basement PC room is always the place to recoil in when this kind of adversity clouds the picture. I prefer to simmer in privacy, since it is the best way to sort things out. Of course on the other hand, mixing with people may take off the hard edge. 🙂

  20. What a great place for Willa to feel safe until the storm passes! We used to keep crates for my two ladies for them to retreat to at night or when they needed alone time. The coziness was comforting to them. As far as my own Zen Den, it’s more of a mental escape. When faced with the thunderstorms of life, I retreat inside myself getting introspective and working through the thunderstorms that follow me there.

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