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.


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