Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Scary Dogs

I’ll start with a little background. When I was in 7th grade I was coming home from the library, when I reach a corner that had a dog on the porch. The dog was loose, and as soon as I saw it I did the “smart” thing and ran. Of course the dog started running after me. So I was running across a 6 way highway with the dog chasing me at my skirt. It was so close and I was petrified. Running away from the dog became more important than saving my life. I literally didn’t see the cars coming, all I saw was the dog. As I was in middle of the highway, a car stopped and blocked the path of the dog. The driver offered me a ride, but since it was a stranger, I declined. But thankfully for that stopped car the dog turned back around and went back to it’s house. I finished running across the street, and made a complete circle to get to my block, and refused to pass by that house again.

That story obviously didn’t start my fear of dogs, but it was a big factor in my continuation of fearing dogs. The next incident was even more traumatizing since it involved me being responsible for other children, and led to me questioning my capabilities as a future mother.

I’ve been trying really hard ever since to get over this fear. I would judge a dog based on the vibe it gave me, if it was truly a scary dog, and required crossing the street. If there were other people with me, I would let them be my guard and actually walk past the dog. I would think of myself as so grown up for actually walking next to a dog. But I still hadn’t come over my fear, and wouldn’t take chances with certain dogs that I knew would run around and bark. So every day when I come home and pass by this one dog in a gate, I would go out of my way not to be next to it.

Today, however, as I was going to vote, I was with my brothers, I saw the dog there, it seemed to be lying down and it was quiet, so I figured it can’t hurt to walk by the gate. So I walked by it, I saw my brother turn around to look at me to make sure I was okay, and I gave him the sign that it was okay. Then when we got to the end of the gate, all of a sudden I heard barking. It was such a surprise, that I jumped up grabbed my brothers arm and yelled “Omg, Mommy!”. I knew it was okay, but yet I was so startled, that without thinking I reacted like that, as if it was a natural instinct. I used to react by saying “Hashem!” but somehow over the years, I guess it changed to “Mommy”.


  1. O the pain people go through just to make it to the voting booth. Thank God you were ok.

  2. I have four dogs... okay, my parents have four dogs. They hang out in the fenced in backyard a lot. My parents live on a corner so whenever people pass by the dogs bark at them. My dogs have never actually bitten anyone... ever. They're barking to say "hello" and maybe just to guarantee that no one comes onto our property. Dogs seem dangerous when they bark, but as long as you aren't trying to come onto their territory, all they do is bark (no bite).

  3. Dude, you really gotta get over this dog phobia. You can usually tell by the bark and by the dog's posture what it wants. If you run from them, they will chase you. If you exude fear pheromones, they'll bark at you. But dogs don't go around biting everyone.

    When I used to take the train, almost every morning, there was a blind guy with this adorable white lab that would lie under the seats or in some free corner and try not to take up room or scare anyone. IT WAS SO CUTE!!!

    You need to find someone with a lab or a similar passive breed and just pet it.

  4. Childish: lol

    Jessica: yea, I remember seeing those pictures, and those are really big scary looking dogs. They look evil.

    That's very nice to say their barking to say "hello", and that they don't bite. I heard that a million times, but for some reason that doesn't console me.

    Also, forgot to mention that every time I hear keys jingling I get paranoid and think it's a leash so I turn around to check. Then there's also the times when I see objects and think it's some dog, so I jump away, then it ends up being just a garbage bag or something, but at night when it's dark it's hard to really tell. Then later today when I was walking, I heard a lady call into her house "come on" and I thought she was talking to a dog, then I look in, and she was talking to a kid.

    Moshe: yea, I know I got to get over it. It would make sense for you to be able to tell based on their posture what they want cause you took some kind of karate class, I don't know what stances are dangerous, so I would rather not sit and analyze it, and instead just be safe.

    Dogs with blind guys are a different story, there's a blind guy at college with a dog, and one time I actually walked right past it. I'm not scared of that dog. Perhaps I'm just prejudice or racist with dogs, and I'm not scared of some of them that I get used to.

    lol, funny hearing that a dog is cute, I would rather use that word to describe kids. A dog just can't compare to a kid.

    petting is going too far!

    It's actually funny, cause chol hamoed we were discussing what to do, and I said "why don't we go horse back riding?", so then my mother says "first try to go near a dog, then you can go horseback riding". But I remember as a kid going on horses, so it doesn't seem scary to me. I have pictures of me on a horse when I was little, on FB. It's a cut out picture, and my brother had the same picture with him in it, so we used to play with them and make believe we were having races, it was so much fun...

    Back to what you were saying, I dunno what a lab dog is.

    Also, I wouldn't pet an animal because of the germs.

    But I did leave out one part. When I was in HS I used to always pass this old man walking 2 dogs. I would walk with my father, and my father always said Good morning to that man. So then I said Good Morning too even when I wasn't walking with my father. SO then I became used to those dogs and would walk next to them.

  5. What does karate have to do with anything? Look it up online.

    Labs are Labrador Retrievers, they're the breed mostly used by blind people in America. In Russia, it's mostly Collies.

    You wouldn't pet an animal because of germs?! But you change diapers, right? And if you knew how many germs a cellphone has...

  6. Dogs are so much fun. I was in a park in Israel. There was a dog that seemed to belong to the park. It was running loose and all the children were running scared. I told the the kids Loh Rootz (dont run) they didnt listen. So I decided to have fun with it. I took a stick and played fetch with the dog and eventually led it away from the kids.

    I like dogs so much I aint afraid of ones I dont know.

  7. conservative sci fiNovember 5, 2008 at 10:18 AM


    I can't tell how old you are (though clearly over 18 if you are voting). You might arrange to meet a behavioral psychologist to help desensitize you to dogs. While a little fear of a snarling doberman is probably a good thing, if you are afraid of the 2" high toy poodle as well, that is somewhat debilitating. A good psychologist should be able to gradually help you overcome most of your fear.

  8. And there are the Brummies, Brooklyn frummies, I just made that up, who are terrified of a week old, toothless, clawless, kitten.

  9. Moshe: Your right, I looked it up online and found an interesting article that showed how to recognize threatening dog behavior and what to do about it.

    Ok, so looks like I'm ok with Labs. Today I almost walked into one.

    MikeInMidwood: It's interesting that you mention that you used a stick and played fetch with the dog and got it away from the children. Cause according to the article I just read (linked above) it said to do exactly that, to distract the dog by throwing a ball or something.

    That's good your used to dogs and enjoy them, you probably were brought up with a dog you knew.

    conservative sci fi: I'm only afraid of real dogs, not toy ones. I think I know where the fear comes from. It's the fear that I can't communicate with them and therefore I'm afraid of what they may do. Just like my fear of mentally insane people. I can try going to a therapist for it, but I doubt they can do anything, cause the change has to come from myself, they can talk all they want, but until I convince myself that dogs aren't threatening, I won't stop fearing them.

  10. Moshe: I know people who are afraid of cats. But cats I'm ok with cause I'm used to them roaming the streets, just like pigeons.

  11. correction, I realize that toy poodles are real dogs.

    I just got reminded of something though. I actually did walk into a pet shop one time. A friend who likes animals wanted to go, so I went with her, and she was saying how all the dogs were so cute. I was standing there shaking. Although they were in cages, every time I saw them move I freaked out.

    O, and a few times I felt like I was getting a heart attack after getting startled by a dog. I would feel my heart beating loudly.

    Perhaps I really do need to fix this. But thankfully because the Jewish community doesn't have that many dogs, I don't encounter them so often, so I can live with this fear.

  12. You were afraid of cute puppies in cages?!

    The Jewish community does have dogs, it's the brummies that don't.

  13. Moshe: yea, you never know what they may do next.

    I also never liked the show wishbone, probably for this reason, or perhaps a different.

    right, so I live with Brummies, so it's all good.

  14. They're puppies!!!
    And they're in cages!!!
    Get help.

  15. I don't have a fear of dogs for the most part but i can relate a little to your fear of walking past that house. There was a german shepard that lived near my apartment when i was little that we had to pass to go to school, the park, shul and it used to terrify me. It was hard to avoid so i think we just walked as close to the street as possible. Even though the dog is long gone i still get slightly nervous passing the house.

  16. Well I'm with the babysitter on this one: I also actually had a eerily similar experience 1n 7th grade, only be me I think the non-Jews who were in charge of the dog let it go so it would chase me! I also got out alright by crossing a street, but I seriously don't like the idea that ethical people, let alone religious Jews keep something in their property that strikes terror in the hearts of anyone- even a five year old! It's a serious sin! "Oh, they don't bite" Jessica says- but they bark! It's ungentlemenly and unladylike to keep these animals in ones house in my opinion. If you have no friends and feel that sharp-toothed animals that make scary noises show you more affection than people than go ahead- but don't make it a public menace!

  17. Are you for real? "that strikes terror in the hearts of anyone- even a five year old" Doesn't strike terror into me or into my 2 and a half year old son or my wife or any of our family or most of the people in my shul. Speak for yourself.

    They make scary noises? Really? All of the breeds? Yeah, a toy poodle or chihuahua is very scary and terror inducing, right?

    Are you afraid of cats too?
    And you call yourself a man...

  18. OMG that's pretty traumatic...!

  19. Mrs. Lakewood Falling Down: Glad to hear that someone can relate. That happens to me too, where just the memory of it can make me avoid houses, even though I know the dog is gone from there.

    Shlomo: Glad to hear you can relate, and that you don't think I'm crazy. But as much as I would rather there not be dogs, I won't stop someone from having one. I'll just do my part of avoiding it. It's actually funny, every time I see someone walk down my block with a dog, I give them a look, as if to say "why do you have to do this to me".

    I think it only strikes terror in kids that aren't used to it. So those that were brought up with dogs are lucky, cause they adjusted to it.

    I'm just glad that certain stores and places don't allow pets. But I do sympathize with those that feel they need it for company, to them I'm sure it's not a menace.

    KT: yea, but the post/story I linked to was even more traumatic.

    In a way I like that I'm scared of dogs, cause then I realize how many nice caring people there are out there, that are out to protect me.

  20. "So those that were brought up with dogs are lucky, cause they adjusted to it."

    Wrong. They're lucky not to have crazy parents/environment that told them dogs are evil and scary.

    My kid wasn't brought up with them and he's not scared of them. I wasn't brought up with them and I'm not scared of them. In Russia, a couple years before we left went to vacation on the Black Sea. The owners had a dog that just gave birth to puppies and wouldn't allow anyone near them and would bark and growl even at the owners, except for me. I was allowed to sit and play with them because she didn't smell any fear/aggression or anything dangerous from me.

    People aren't born with phobias. Phobias are the result of nurture.

  21. Moshe: I wonder if anybody ever told me that dogs were evil and scary, maybe it's from watching movies or tv shows where they always had dogs chasing the bad guys.

    That's amazing that the dog didn't smell any aggression from you, considering what you take pride in :-)

    I'm not so sure about that. For one of my classes I did some research on phobias, and this is what I came up with:

    •Persistent, irrational fears of objects or situations that persist even though the source of the fear is usually harmless. It can interfere with the ability to socialize, work or go about everyday life.
    •People with Phobias aren’t crazy, they are aware their fears are unreasonable but they can’t control their fears, they go to great lengths to avoid the object of their fears.
    •Most common mental illness
    •Most successfully treated
    •Phobias belong to a large group of mental problems known as anxiety disorders

    According to the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders IV, specific phobias currently affect 4%- 8.8% of the population, and 7.2%- 11.3% of people will experience a specific phobia in their lifetime.
    most common - fear of animals
    develop at child hood but eventually go away on their own
    if a phobia continues into adulthood, treatment is usually the only solution
    Level of disability is determined by how often the object of the phobia appears in the victim’s life.

    •Experts don’t know why phobias develop
    •Research shows—from heredity and environment
    •Some hypersensitive people have unique chemical reactions in the brain that cause them to respond much more strongly to stress
    •Through neuroimaging researchers identify that certain parts of the brain are associated with phobias. One is the amygdale- almond-shaped body of nerve cells involved in normal fear conditioning. Another area of the brain linked to phobias is the Posterior cerebellum
    •Specific stressful event usually triggers the development of a specific phobia or agoraphobia. Ex: someone who experiences severe turbulence during a flight might develop a phobia about flying.

  22. "develop at child hood but eventually go away on their own"

    "from heredity and environment"


  23. Moshe: "They make scary noises? Really?"- I'm obviously talking about the bigger dogs. I mean, it's just a very unpleasant noise. If I was walking by a street and someone kept screaming at me I'd 'take it up with him', why should animals be different?

    It could be you were never attacked by a dog, but there are innumerable cases of people feeling 'overly comfortable' around dogs, and one day getting (sometimes seriously) injured by them. Dogs have small brains, and teeth as sharp as knives...

    "Are you afraid of cats too?"- If cats acted the way dogs sometimes do and stood up to us, and taunted us, I would be afraid! We should thank G-d that they're way scared of us, because if a couple of them really decided to gang up on one of us they could inflict some serious damage..

  24. ...I mean, especially biking by very rural areas, if I didn't have a bike, i think some peoples dogs would have taken some bites out of me..

    And again: I didn't say 'I' was afraid of them, but that 'some people' find them a bit freaky when they're walking by the porch of an unleashed dog..


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