**Note! Please take this as a lighthearted reflection, not finger-wagging! I’m well aware that this is dangerous territory. 😉 **
Dog lovers of the world–and I know there are a lot of you–I need you to listen closely. My daughter hates your dog. It’s nothing personal. She hates every dog. Every one. Every size. Every shape. Every age. There has never been a single dog in the entire world that my daughter has liked.
Stop trying to tell me yours is the exception.
I know you like your dog. I believe you when you say other kids who are scared of dogs like your dog. But my daughter will not. There are a lot of dogs in my neighborhood. As in: fourteen dogs in the eight houses closest to us. We have a lot of experience with them. When I tell you my daughter is scared of your dog, please accept that I know what I am talking about.
I know it might be tempting to blame me, the “there will never be a pet of any kind under any circumstances in my house and especially not a slobbering, licking, barking, smelly dog” woman. But Julianna does, after all, have a confirmed dog lover for a father. A man who almost cried at age 24 when his parents were forced to put their cocker spaniel to sleep.
Trust me, I may not like dogs, but with fourteen of them within a hundred yards of our house, I consider it a survival skill to coexist peacefully with them. Heck, I’d be happy if my daughter would accept their presence in the universe. But it’s a lost cause. If I pull her away it’s simply because I have learned that dog + Julianna = more laundry, bloodcurdling screams, and a nearly-successful attempt to climb me.
I know you don’t get it. You love dogs, and you just don’t see how anybody could view them otherwise. But I assure you, it’s quite possible.
And in my daughter’s defense, let me share two stories, one about me, one about her.
I grew up on a gravel road, and in the summertime I rode my bike to the neighbors’ house, 1/4 mile away, nearly every day. I had to grit my teeth and do it because a big black lab lived midway between our houses, and he chased me every single time, barking. News flash: that’s scary.
By the time I was a senior in high school, I had learned that dogs can tell when you’re scared, and the best way to handle them is not to be. So this particular day, I didn’t let him push me all over the road. I stayed in my lane and yelled at him.
And he bit me in the thigh.
I don’t like dogs.
Now, a much cuter story about Julianna. Picture an 18-month-old little girl, far from walking, just getting stable on her bottom and learning to transition into crawling position. Said cutie pie is sitting outside with Daddy, who has dug a 2-foot-deep hole to plant a tree. Great big–extremely friendly, but very big–golden retriever that lives next door comes running over and bops her on the butt. Darling daughter tips forward head-first into a hole full of water.
Some scars run deep.
So when we see you in the park, don’t tell me how not-scary your dog is. Don’t tell me all the reasons why we should fawn over and adore your pooch. Don’t give us the “are you crazy?” look because my daughter is screaming bloody murder. Please believe me: I really am trying to soothe her, to get her to release at least a couple of the 650 muscles she has locked up at the sight of a canine. I’m afraid you’re simply going to have to accept the unfathomable truth that some people just don’t like dogs.