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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

D is for Dogs

When I was growing up, we were not a dog-owning family; we were cat people, mostly because of space. Dogs need to have more legroom than our tiny yard could afford.

We did have one dog, though, an Alaskan husky called Lucky Stubbs. He was a good dog, but prone to nipping people. It was OK when he nipped me, but when he nipped one of the minister's daughters, that was it. He ended up on a nearby farm.

I like dogs OK, but they don't seem to like me. I used to ride my bicycle down Avon Road in Binghamton, NY. Not a dog in sight. Next thing I knew I was surrounded by barking canines. The only thing to do was to stop and walk. (Avon, BTW, was a dead-end street that ran to the river; there was no alternate route.)

I've had similar experiences around Albany, and once in Jamestown, NY where this Irish setter about the size of a small Shetland pony bounded across a field to harass me. I certainly couldn't outrun him, so I stopped, started walking with my bike until he felt that his turf was safe, then went back to riding. I know some people use various dog repellents, but I am disinclined.

Unfortunately, my daughter seems to be canine wary. Frankly, this surprises me. Her first daycare, which she went to from age 6 months to 16 months, had an obnoxious daschund who barked all of the time, and she seemed unfazed. Yet, for a couple years, any dog nearby sent her into the arms of a parent. During the worst phase of this, I visited a friend in Rhode Island, who was convinced that a weekend with his very nice old dog would cure her of her fears. Instead, she spent the week at home all jumpy and clingy.

When we used to walk around the block, a pair of dachshunds would come and bark at us. Despite being behind a fence, they were a bit much to listen to. (I heard at a party this weekend that, due to the unmelted snow, they can now bark with their heads OVER fence. Great, just great...)

The daughter's fear has morphed into merely not wanting to be in a direct line with a dog. When we get on the bus and she doesn't immediately run to the back of the bus to sit down, I know there must be a guide dog on board. She's OK as long as I am between her and the animal.

And there is ONE dog she actually likes, an old setter down the street named Lucy. So I hold out hope that one day, she'll be OK with the Rovers of the world.



Lene said...

Magnificent specimen :)

Have a nice day :)

Scott said...

I seemed to always have a dog around. My family had two, at different times, while living there. And of course, my wife and I have a Golden Retriever now. Nigel doesn't have any issues with our dog. Actually, our dog is a wimp. He runs from any noise as if he's scared out of his wits. Because of this nature, we feel we will have to stress to Nigel as he gets older that not all dogs are like his, and that he needs to be cautious. Though I think I like having that to deal with then a child that is scared of them from the start.

lv2scpbk said...

I've had different dogs growing up too and still do. As of right now we have a Rat Terrier and a Pit Bull.

Jules said...

Dogs are a girl's best friend too...I posted about the Westminster Kennel Club dog show...the Sussex Spaniel was spectacular!

photowannabe said...

The change can happen. It pretty much happened to me. As a child of about 6 or 7 I was terrified by a German Shephard that lived across the street. He would be out and chase me home every time I went out to play. In High School a scary little Corgi would nip at my heels every time I walked home from the bus stop. I vowed to never have a dog. Now the granddaughters have the cutest Labradoodle and she thinks I am her Grandma too. She's sweet and actually comes to stay at our home sometimes. I never ever thought that that would happen. truly is possible!

Tumblewords: said...

Some dogs are just better than others! Sounds like you've seen all kinds.

Jay said...

Yes, the change can happen.

Our second son was dog phobic for years, following incidents with JRTs (whose owners said they were fine). He would cross the street rather than pass one. But when he was nine, after much discussion, work, and counselling (by me) he felt able to live with a dog.

We chose our breed carefully, and that's why we ended up with greyhounds. They might be big, but they are very gentle dogs as a rule. It worked very well and our son is now fine with dogs, though he still isn't fond of JRTs.

I would also suggest, for those who are dog phobic, or who just don't seem to be get on well with dogs, it's well worth reading a good book on dog behaviour and social signals. It is amazing what a difference it makes just being able to understand what the dog is thinking, and what message you are sending them.

I'd recommend Stanley Coren's How To Speak Dog. :)