Stop Asking: Dogs

 

I hate that I hate dogs. I don’t really hate them, I’m just deathly afraid of them. Most fear stems from hate they say. It’s the sense of powerlessness I suppose, how unpredictable animals are, dogs especially. How they’re so touchy and friendly and my distrust of that. I’m not big on contact and dogs don’t really ask for your consent before they jump on you a hairy and slobbering mess. Frequently I see people posting on social media that they don’t trust people who don’t like dogs. Of course this is all in a joking matter, on a superficial layer. Imagine the few of us who don’t like dogs, or just animals in general, having to read this so often and being seen as everyone else as borderline animal abusers, because the opposite of love and affection is hatred and destruction, right?

One of the worst parts of hating dog is having people constantly saying that “they don’t do anything” or “they’re harmless, here pet them and see!”. I’m very well aware of the usual gentle nature of dogs. In trying to reassure me you’re instead making me feel like a hateful, heartless creep. Whenever I find myself comfortable enough to tell someone about my fear or when I have no choice but to tell them as a forewarning of my behaviour, which is usually the case, people quickly jump to defend their pets with the lines I mentioned before. Lately I have to hold back through my teeth a very hostile “I don’t care” in response. For me, this fear is a borderline, if not actual, phobia. It’s quite irrational, at least to the average person. I know that it doesn’t make sense, you don’t need to point it out.

Another usual to expressing this fear is people badgering you for a reason. “I just am” is never enough for them. They’re looking for a traumatizing backstory akin to supervillains that turned you into the Cruella De Vil of the real world. I haven’t shared mine because it was a dream I had a very long time ago. In it being a dream I expect people to say the obvious “it’s a dream, it doesn’t mean anything”. Dreams also have a tendency to blur with my imagination, did I even dream this at all? Probably, but that uncertainty gives dog people more ammunition against me. The last time I wrote about this was in a ninth grade paper about our biggest fear. In the dream I was at my grandmother’s house, she had two dogs there when I was a kid. The dog in the dream, however, was a dalmatian. The dog followed me into the house and bit my head, his jaw wrapping around my cranium in a cartoony fashion. Immediately all of my hair fell out. I was horrified of course and started screaming. But it was one of those screams where no sound comes out, no matter how much you try. That was the worse part, hopelessly trying to call out for help to no avail. My family was sitting in the living room, a few feet away and no one ever noticed.

I judge people frequently and harshly on how they react and respond to my fear. Once I was at a friends house working on a project for school. During this their dog escaped from the front yard to where we were working. Back then I was still pretty bad at controlling my emotions in these situations. Instinctively I stood on top of my chair to distance myself from the dog. It had come running ready to sniff all these new people enthusiastically as most dogs do which caught me completely off guard. I was about three seconds away from crying and was yelling in anger to delay my breakdown. My friend laughed. They just sat there looking at my terror and laughed. I don’t think our relationship was ever the same to be honest. A couple of later minor but similar incidents didn’t help either. Respect people’s fears. That is what I’ve grown to believe having people passive aggressively shame and guilt me when they have to keep their dogs outside or in their yard for the four hours I spend over at their house. I find it concerning when people enthusiastically say that they like dogs more than they like people. And this is a shy, anxious introvert talking. I’m not asking to lock them and throw away the key, just a little respectful distance for a little bit while we enjoy each other’s company.

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