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Fear and three-legged dogs - Chronarchy

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December 5th, 2005


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09:36 am - Fear and three-legged dogs
Last night, Tina and I were out driving in German Village, and as I was gazing out the window, Tina said, "Aww, it's a three-legged dog!"

I looked where she was pointing, and sure enough, there was a three-legged dog on a leash, being walked by two men. "They get around well, don't they, with those three legs?" I asked. Tina gave a non-committal response, and I continued. "My grandmother used to have a dog with three legs. I was terrified of that dog."

"Why?"

"I'm not really sure. He guarded the chicken coop. She had a lot of dogs, though. She'd take them in every time they showed up, and probably had between ten and fifteen chained up around the farm. I was afraid of nearly all of them, honestly."

"She had one in the basement who I was absolutely terrified of, and I believe that in the whole time I visited her, I was only down there once because of that dog. Another lived in the barn, and as much as I liked to hang out in the barn, I couldn't get anywhere near the area that dog was chained up."

"I gave all the dogs a wide berth. I still don't know why."

As I was thinking about it this morning, I think that I spent my childhood being afraid of most dogs, but I was certainly not afraid of all dogs. My other grandmother had a dog named Betsy (actually, she was my grandfather's dog), a sheepdog who would occasionally help herd the sheep and lambs. I loved that dog quite a bit, and she loved me.

Betsy's sister, Chrissy, though, didn't like me for most of her life, and (I understand) with good reason. Apparently, when I was about 3 and she was about 2, I used to try to ride her like a horse. I imagine that I wasn't all that delicate with her. My parents and my uncle never told me I was rough with her, or that I hurt her, but I suspect I must have.

For years, she would snap at me and growl and basically do anything she could to scare me off. It really wasn't anything that she did to me, personally, but she apparently associated her fear with my size. When I grew up to be about teenager-sized, she stopped snapping at me.

I remember one incident in particular, when I'd gone out to climb my favourite tree. I imagine I was about ten years old at the time. The tree was only about 30 feet from the house, along the windbreak line to the east. I was up about six feet (high for me at the time), when Betsy and Chrissy showed up at the foot of the tree.

The thing you have to understand about Betsy and Chrissy is that they looked exactly alike to a ten year old. I might have managed to get down on Betsy's side if I could have figured out which one she was and made the run to the house, but without knowing which girl was which, I couldn't manage it. I was terrified, and (though I don't remember) I probably shouted until my parents came out to "save" me.

The image in my mind, I admit, is still a bit frightening. But the funny thing is that my vision of it is terribly un-frightening. Both dogs are at the foot of the tree, wagging tails, playing a bit with each other, and generally having fun. I can't help but think that all they wanted to do was play, and I was terrified where I clung to the tree. Honestly, I think that Chrissy couldn't see my size from where I was; she wasn't interested in growling at me because she didn't know how small I was.

I was once walking to my friend Louie's house, about an eighth of a mile from my house. On the way, I came around the corner of a house (I was a typical kid and felt that I owned the neighborhood, and anything that wasn't actually the inside of a house was public property), and came face to face with the ugliest boxer I'd ever seen. Well, he was ugly to me, but with his tongue hanging out and his dull eyes, I can't imagine that he was actually dangerous. But he scared the heck out of me, no question. I backed up, and took a wide route around three more houses before turning north again. It's possible, though I don't remember, that I was actually in tears when I got to Louie's house.

Thinking about this made me think about fear as I see it today, too. I admit to feeling some fear, and it sometimes becomes overwhelming. The problem is that I don't have any idea what the fear is of. I can't say I have something specific that scares me. . . There's just a feeling of dread. I remember a time when tentacly things didn't even frighten me, and logically I know that there's nothing to fear that you can't banish with laughter. If it works for Cthulhu, it'll work for anything.

I'm not entirely sure what to do about that. I think I just need to restore faith in my laughter. It's a hard thing to do.
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Current Music: "The Wino and I Know", -JB

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From:chronarchy
Date:December 5th, 2005 03:32 pm (UTC)
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I'm no longer actually afriad of them. Somehow, it seems, I conquered that fear. It just struck me that I actually do seem to have been terrified of most dogs when I was a child, and I didn't remember it until just now.

I think I met Fractal once. I may be mixing him strangely with saffronhare's various dogs, though. I know I met the Dingo, though. There's photographic evidence of that.
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From:singingwren
Date:December 5th, 2005 03:45 pm (UTC)
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I used to be afraid of most dogs, too. My neighbor had a very nasty one named Dutchess, ugly and mean, and she would snarl and bark at us loudly from where she was chained whenever we went outside. The one time she got loose she came running after us, snapping at our heels and yowling, and my brother and I ended up shivering on top of a car with Dutchess leaping at it beneath us. I don't know what her gods-damned problem was, as we'd never even come close to her before, but I was always terrified of being on ground level (and NOT in my willow tree) when I couldn't tell if she was chained or not. :P

I too got over that fear, although I have no idea how... I guess it's just one of those things you grow out of when you see dogs in a rational light and you recognize when they want to play versus when they want to eat you. That's not to say I don't get nervous when I am alone and a huge dog is walking towards me on the street, but that's just common sense. ;P
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From:aislinggheal
Date:December 5th, 2005 04:08 pm (UTC)
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I was terrified of dogs as a kid. I would run away from them, which was never a good idea (and made me even more afraid of dogs - darn things run much faster than even a terrified child can.) There were a pair of Irish setters that I could tolerate, but that was it.

As a teenager, I realized that dogs really just want to stick their tongues up your nose. Once I figured that out, I've been fear free. I even romped with pit bulls in Mississippi. Of course, I am the Faerie Godmother of Urban Animals, so most dogs seem to know me by reputation. :-P
From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 5th, 2005 04:58 pm (UTC)

mixed feelings about dogs

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I grew up with an Irish setter, which made me pretty fearless about most dogs, particularly bigger ones (one babysitter had a great dane). On the other hand, my entire experience of little dogs (primarily Boston terriers and lhasa apsos) has been that they're mean and annoying and more likely to bite hard, so I actually have a little more fear of them.

Another thing that came out of growing up with dogs is that I learned that they require a lot of attention and a lot of energy to take care of, not to mention being just plain smelly and messy, all of which is why I don't want one. But whenever I have a kid I'd want it not to be afraid of dogs, and I haven't figured out how to reconcile the two.
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From:rfunk
Date:December 5th, 2005 04:59 pm (UTC)

Re: mixed feelings about dogs

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Er, that was me forgetting to login.
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From:romandruid
Date:December 5th, 2005 06:12 pm (UTC)
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Funny, I've never been afraid of dogs -- in fact, I always have related better to them than people. I used to go visit and make friends with dogs that everyone warned me away from -- you know, like the german shepard mix tied up in your neighbor's backyard that no one can go near but the owner (supposedly).

Even when we used to go bike riding out in the country, there'd be a dozen dogs come out from every farm, barking their heads off, chasing us. My friends would pedal as fast as they could to get past them as quickly as possible, but I'd just scold them and tell them to go home. Once they realized they were beyond their own "official" home boundary and there was another dog-person assertive enough to challenge them, they'd head home, all disappointed.

I don't know where I got my fondness for animals, to be honest. My sister was terrified of dogs and refused to go to school in case she might encounter any on the three-block walk to school. So we got a little toy poodle to help her conquer her fear. Hardly a dog at all, really. It didn't do much to eliminate her fear, or to create any fondness for dogs in me, for that matter. I just seem to have the doggy-gene. *shrug*
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From:chronarchy
Date:December 5th, 2005 09:35 pm (UTC)
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It amused me a bit that just as you were musing about getting a dog, I was musing about my childhood fear of them. . . At least, I think it was a fear. . .
From:weavingfire
Date:December 5th, 2005 09:57 pm (UTC)
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I've never been afraid of dogs, in fact you could call me "dangerously unafraid" of dogs as a child. Still, I was never bitten and was able to "tame" some of those types of dogs romandruid refers too.

Birds though, a totally different story. It wasn't until I became a pet sitter andhad to deal with them on a regular basis that I became at all comfortable around birds.
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From:smithing_chick
Date:December 6th, 2005 04:22 am (UTC)
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I *loooooove* dogs. I'd have one if I were home enough to have a pet at all.

Never been afraid of them- although I did get bit once. Not anthing major- just some stripes on my shin. Some of my classmates have them here in teh studios with them. And I get to play with them. Whee! :)

But then, I should note that I also like cats, hamsters & snakes. :)
From:red_sput
Date:December 7th, 2005 06:28 am (UTC)
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Sorry about the late reply. It's a rather busy week. I remember that dog Whistle next door. He freaked me out. He bit me in the face that one time too. Even though he was small, I think he freaked me out the most. Though all those dogs on the farm sure were something.
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From:chronarchy
Date:December 7th, 2005 12:44 pm (UTC)
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Which one was Whistle? I don't honestly remember.

No worries on late replies. :) Better late than never, I say.
From:red_sput
Date:December 9th, 2005 07:00 am (UTC)
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The little black dog the Springer's had. They had another nicer dog too. I don't remember his name. This was all a long time ago before the Cole's had moved in.
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From:chronarchy
Date:December 9th, 2005 01:37 pm (UTC)
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Ah, yes, I remember now. Vaguely :)

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