I can barely remember why I was ever afraid of dogs. My parents tell me that when I was four, our neighbor was walking her massive dog…without a leash. The dog got away from her and ended up in my backyard, where I was playing alone. It didn’t really do anything but bark at me, but it doesn’t exactly take a lot of effort for a loud, pitch-black dog (which was at least a foot taller than me) to scare your pants off, especially when you’re as delicate and impressionable as I was.
So, I developed a real fear of dogs. For the majority of my childhood I’d find excuses to stay away from them. Everyone would say, “But our dog is so nice! He/She never bites!” But being bitten, scratched, or barked at wasn’t my fear. To be honest, I have no idea what I thought man’s best friend would do to me, but I wasn’t willing to find out!
That all changed in my first year of high school, when due to my parents’ work schedule I spent a lot of time at a friend’s house. This friend had a very large and very old dog who I would always ask (as politely as possible, for such a rude request) to be put away. After a week or two of this, my friend very wisely decided to stop babying me and refused to hide her away anymore. I am so thankful for this, because if he hadn’t done that I may never have faced my fear.
Now, I actually work with a dog right here in the office, and it’s delightful. If I had carried on with my completely irrational fear, I would have lost out on so many great experiences and relationships with my human and canine friends alike. This experience has proved to me that fears do nothing but stand in the way of happiness. Mine was irrational, but even the most justifiable fears can hold one back from embracing life and all the wonderful things it has to offer. It can be a difficult mountain to climb, or it can be as easy as spending some time with a very friendly animal, but if it makes life easier in the long run then it’s always worth it.