One of my most stifling and all-consuming fears evolved early on in my childhood, and I still remember the event that triggered it vividly. My mother had brought me to pick up my older sister from her piano lesson- and there it was. To me, the dog seemed like a giant; it was at least twice my size. As it approached us, I became frightened, and asked my mom to pick me up. As she held me in her arms, the dog jumped on my mother and tore the sleeve completely out of her coat and in the process scratched my legs drawing blood.
And that was it. From that day on, I was terrified of dogs. Terrified.
That fear became very crippling. I would avoid walking by dogs, entering houses with dogs, and dog situations in general. Looking back now, I also instilled a little of that fear in my children by not allowing them to go near dogs, either. My son always asked for a dog. But we were of course, strictly a cat family.
Even later, well into my adult years, I found myself avoiding friends' houses if they had dogs. Sometimes I would own up to my fear and they would keep them away from me out of courtesy. If that didn’t happen, though, I would just find excuses not to visit. I wanted very much to control the fear, but any time I was near a dog, I began to feel the anxiety kicking in. And of course, dogs would sense that and always make a bee line for me…causing my stress to elevate even further.
I was forced to confront this fear recently when I entered into a relationship with a man and his dog. They came as a package. I knew if I didn’t tackle it head on it would be a relationship deal breaker. So, that’s exactly what I reluctantly did.
Little by little this dog spent more time at my house. Sometimes even alone with me as his caretaker, while my boyfriend worked. As I would feed him, walk him, and play with him, we slowly began to bond. He grew to trust me, and I began to trust him. As it turned out, he is the most gentle, loving, loyal dog a person could ask for.
Initially my best hope was that I could simply co-exist with him, but much to my surprise, he has brought me complete joy…. a joy that I never knew existed. Now, I look forward to walking in the door to his wagging tail, miss him when he is not around, and love having the extra heartbeat in the house.
I could never picture my life without him.
I am so appreciative as to how he has enriched my life. He has made me more at ease with other dogs too, and thus, I have experienced things and can be present in places that I never would have otherwise. It has so drastically changed my perspective that he now has a new little brother who we adopted six months ago.
It is hard to believe that someone who had such an overwhelming fear is now a dog owner and dog lover…OF TWO DOGS! And had I not faced my fears, I would’ve missed out on this amazing experience….a happiness that was missing all along.
Now when I look back at this adventure, I can apply the outcome to other areas of my life. And, when I am faced with something that makes me scared, I try my best to power through and remind myself…that sometimes on the other side of fear, you find joy.