Getting over my fears, little by little.
Something magical happened this week. I met a dog I felt more than 50% comfortable around and fell completely in love with him. For those who know me, I am a devout “cat person.” I will watch any cat video that comes my way, constantly ask my parents for updates on our family cat, Zoot, and will fervently defend their awesomeness to any doubting “dog person.” Alas, the other C is highly allergic to the creatures, which explains why I am, as my granny has now labelled me, a “traiter to all cats.”
Getting a dog was a huge deal for me. Aside from the commitment that comes with getting a dog, or the awkwardness I display whenever I, the “cat person,” encounter a dog, I had to think long and hard about getting the little dude for other reasons. You know how most people say that snakes, heights, or public speaking are their worst fears? Mine happens to be dogs. That is a really fun fear to have when you happen to live in the most dog-friendly neighborhood in town where dogs of all shapes and sizes run around unleashed. The most scared I have been in the last year was probably when I had to walk by a German Shepherd that was tied up outside a shop by myself.
To make a long story short, many years ago my family got a dog who wound up having some serious behavior problems. He started off sweet then snapped, which led to me winding up in the hospital twice - once just for an inspection and the other for surgery, an overnight stay, and a finger that will never fully function again. Although I have continued to love dogs, I just haven’t enjoyed being around them ever since that experience.
People have tried to comfort me or convince me that their dogs wouldn’t ever hurt a fly, while others laughed and said that I “must have done something” to deserve the bites. None of that has mattered because if there is one thing I have learned, it’s that you can’t reason fear away. It takes time and a lot of effort to overcome it. I have read articles my mom has sent me about how to behave around dogs, spent time around friends’ dogs, and sometimes decided not to cross the street when I see a big dog coming towards me. Although all that has helped somewhat, I finally figured that the only way to get over this thing once and for all was to just suck it up and get my own dog, especially since the other C really wanted one.
So the other C and I went to the SF SPCA on Sunday and met Cosmo (formerly “Joe Cool”) and decided to take him home. I could not have asked for a more perfect dog. He is sweet, calm, and well-behaved (not to mention super cute). We’ve only had him a few days and already I feel more, though no where near completely, confident around dogs. It’s taken me a long time to realize that most dogs aren’t really all that interested in me – if there’s another dog around, they’d much rather interact with him or her than a silly old human like me.
It will be a while before I’m ready to play with bigger dogs, but thanks to this little guy I know there is hope for me. I cannot fully explain how wonderful it feels to be comfortable around this little dog or to not immediately freeze when I pass a dog on the sidewalk. So the cheezy moral of the story is, when you’re ready, try to determine what would help you overcome your greatest fear and go for it. It will be hard and may take a long time, but few things will ever be as worth it.
*Okay, I wasn’t actually allowed to call him Rooferford, but we live on Hayes st so I couldn’t resist. All photos by the other C.