I used to be scared of dogs. Full blown petrified. I couldn’t even be in the same park as one without being frightened. And a lot of people who had dogs would say their dog was harmless and wouldn’t scare me but it would. Or they’d tell me parents to give me a day with them and their dog and I’d come back cured. I think the problem is that there was never any thing that my parents or I could put our fingers on as the reason why I was scared (I later developed something of a fear of/hatred for cats and I can tell you exactly why that happened). There are a lot of memories and stories of things that relate to my phobia of dogs – it was a big thing.
And then I went to uni. On the way home that first Christmas my Dad mentioned they were getting a dog. I freaked out. I didn’t believe him at first. When I realised he was serious I panicked and cried.
I went back to uni before they got the dog and when they did I didn’t want to hear about it. My family came to visit a few weeks after they got him and brought photos. I was not going to look at those photos. My friend I lived with and my carer were really keen to see the pics but not me. I did eventually be convinced to look at them but I didn’t want to – I was scared of dogs and I didn’t see the need or the attraction of a dog.
Then we got to Easter and time to go home again. I was so panicked in halls as my Dad packed the car with my stuff that I was basically hysterical and I physically threw up. They struggled to get me in the house when we arrived but eventually I went in and I met Milo.
I was uncomfortable and a bit scared after that but I was coping. I remember the next day we went to visit my Nanny for lunch and I was really relieved because we’d be gone for a few hours and he wouldn’t come. I could have a break from dealing with him. But then I remembered that she’d moved since I was last home from uni and instead of being about a 25 minute drive away she was now a 5 minute drive away so we wouldn’t be gone as long. And it turned out he came too.
Within a few days I was comfortable with him and happy to stroke him, throw his ball etc. I remember my Mum commenting how quickly that happened, more so than she’d expected I think. And that grew to being comfortable to be around other dogs too.
It grew to many years of fun and laughter and even frustration and annoyance when he was being a pain.
I remember being out walking him one uni holiday. I was in my manual being pushed by my Dad and holding Milo’s lead. And the manual broke. I’m not really sure how he got us all home.
I remember just how much fun he thought an empty plastic bottle was. And how scary a sneeze was.
When I stopped wearing socks at all I used all of the ones I had to make sock toys for him. He absolutely loved them. The last couple of years I would go to the pound shop at Christmas and buy socks especially to be able to make him one.
I cried the day I heard my family were getting Milo. Because I was scared. I cried harder the day I met him. Because I was more scared.
And on Monday night I cried when my Mum rang to tell me that at the ripe old age of 16 Milo had been put to sleep.
(I’m trying not to cry writing this)
I’m still a bit wary around dogs I don’t know if they’re running loose and I think I always will be (although admittedly I had a negative experience with someone at sailing’s dog earlier this year which was actually made more negative by the way the owner handled it so that may be influencing that).
I would have sworn blind, had you asked me, that I didn’t need to do anything about my dog phobia. It wasn’t having that much of an impact on my life (I thought) and was much more of a problem for others than me (because they thought it was a big deal). But then circumstance meant I had to. And I’m really glad that I did.