Pang and Bang (JB)

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julianabjornsdottir_dlNew Year’s Eve in Iceland is a blast—literally.

In the days leading up to New Year’s Eve, locals lose themselves in the excitement that comes in the holiday season and blast away the year that is about to pass while greeting the new with a big bang.

As incredibly beautiful and unique as this experience is, it is not for everybody and in particular our four-legged friends, whose nerves are not always strong enough to take the noise and bright flares drifting across the skies above.

For some, this experience is never actually experienced, as many pet owners prefer to give their dogs tranquilizers to relieve their vulnerable nerves.

Others are fortunate enough to have pets that are unafraid of the grandeur in the sky and watch the mass of lights flicker as adoringly as their human companions.

For my Emma, New Year’s Eve is no bliss and the days leading up to the big day are a sharp reminder of it. She has only lived to see one New Year’s Eve and when the blasting went overboard she, a puppy of six and a half months, stayed confined with us in a dark bedroom so that she wouldn’t panic as the madness erupted in the night sky.

She didn’t notice the choir of screaming fireworks outside; all she heard was the soundtrack from Mamma Mia.

She seemed not to be too bothered with the soundtrack which features a singing Pierce Brosnan.

However, as the long-awaited night is but a day away, my heart is beginning to skip a beat every time I hear a firework explode. I look in her direction seeking response, hoping that she is without fear in the comfort of her home.

I admit that a part of me is hoping to stand outside with her on the leash, even loose in the garden, and watch the fireworks this year.

Last year, we missed out.

My husband and I are hoping that our preparation walks will result in a calmer and happier dog than the poor frightened puppy we held last year as midnight approached.

We know she can do it but we also know it’s a lot to ask. After all, the human world is probably complicated enough for our beloved four-legged friends.

What worries me too is the aftermath. Left behind is an endless spread of the remains of fireworks along the nearby shore, usually a safe haven for our dogs, and more concerning, the ashes and broken wood handles spread all over our beloved dog park.

It’s bad enough that we enter into the New Year with our request for a fenced dog-free zone neglected. It seems that even though two out of three committees are happy to agree to the proposed plans, the third is in no way influenced by previous decisions and so far the battle has been one of defeat.

Were the zone ours, it would be the one place in the city dedicated to our dogs, and a place we would keep safe for them. But as far as New Year’s Eve is concerned, I have a few requests to make and hope my fellow citizens rise to the challenge.

First of all, let’s be nice to our pets on New Year’s Eve. Let’s be nice to animals we see on the street. Let’s feed the stray cat and give him shelter from the noise and let’s protect the frightened little puppy.

Secondly, let’s be nice to each other. Let’s not throw bottles on the street and watch them break in front of a poor unsuspecting visitor in the city center. Let’s not tramp on each other’s feet and let’s not push abruptly through the thick crowds in bars and clubs in the city. Instead, let’s say, “excuse me,” and “thank you.”

Thirdly, let’s be respectful of our surroundings and use the bins wherever we can find them. Let’s not leave our trash where it doesn’t belong.

Let’s wish each other a Happy New Year. Let’s start 2014 with a smile.

Most importantly is perhaps to remember how precious life is and how we must treasure it.

A new year is the time to embrace life and start afresh; to say, “hell with it” and take a chance. Let’s be thankful for all the good and try to mend the bad.

My idol, Nelson Mandela, recently passed away, and I have made it my New Year’s resolution to live his values and in that way, honor the legacy of a departed hero.

Let’s all be good... to people and our four-legged friends.

Júlíana Björnsdóttir – julianabjornsdottir@gmail.com

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.