Dear Dr. Archer,
A lightweight story is in order, I believe! I used to have a thing for dogs, so everyone teased me, because as soon as I'd see a dog approaching, I would do the disappearing act. I was so afraid of dogs! And there was a reason for this.
When I was one year old, for two months my mom had me stay with a nanny for a few hours a day while she taught at her school. This nanny had two fuming, angry dogs guarding her house and garden.
Any time I would refuse to eat, this nanny would take me outside where her two snarling dogs were waiting, and she would threaten "if you don't eat your food, I will throw you to the dogs!"
And she would pretend to throw me to them! I was terrified, and I can still see those dogs, barking like maniacs just below me, their sharp teeth looking oh-so-dangerous! I really thought she would throw me to them, and they would eat me!
When my mom realized that my nanny -- no matter how nice she tried to be -- didn't have much knowledge about raising children, that was the end of my nanny, although God bless her soul, I loved her, and that nanny is dead now.
My mum had no idea until one night, I woke up from a nightmare, screaming and crying "the dogs will eat me!" I then explained to her why I was afraid of them. She told off the nanny and removed me from her and any other nanny's care, ever! She said after this, she would never leave me to anybody's hands but hers.
This is how I inherited my dog fear, which kept me good company up until the time I was 27! And then my fears were overcome by an incident. I was going to a competition in Finland, where all competitors would stay with host families.
Before traveling, I was required to fill out a form. This form had a special section with the question, "do you have any allergies?" I wrote, 'please, no dogs, as I have a fear of dogs.' They replied with a funny addition, 'do not worry, there will be no dogs at your host family.'
My flight arrived and I took a taxi to my host family's address. As soon as the door opens, SURPRISE! Before I can see the people's faces, a big dog jumps on me! Luckily it was a Dalmatian, old, could barely walk and blind! 'Thank God, that helps!', I thought.
I asked them if they knew I specifically asked for no dogs, and they had no idea about my request. I thought, okay, God wants me and dogs to eventually become friends, so I'll make the effort.
They told me the dog lived with them and slept in their bed. I thought, as long as it's not in my bed! After that, funny encounters started and I played hide-and-seek with the dog. In the mornings, the host family would go to their jobs. By the way, they were lovely and laughed often about my dog fear.
I was alone at home each morning. When I woke up, I would be really quiet to make sure the dog would not know I was moving around. As soon as I got to the kitchen, I would close the door, hoping she wouldn't find me and I could enjoy breakfast in peace.
But soon I'd hear her coming, and she knew how to open the door. Then she'd sit next to me, waiting and hoping for a slice of salami! At first I couldn't even have breakfast, but soon we became friends and I realized there was nothing to be afraid of in these cute creatures, who only want love.
Since then I've been fine with dogs, although, of course, I prefer puppies! One summer when I was still living abroad, I came home for the holidays. My parents had gotten a very cute puppy, hoping I would emotionally bond with it and cancel my plans to go abroad again.
The puppy was super cute, so much so I neglected my work for it! But when my flight day arrived, of course I had to forget the puppy and leave. A few days after I left, my sister told me the puppy was no longer there.
It had gotten it's exit ticket as well -- they gave it to some neighbors. My sister told me the puppy was a ploy to make me stay home! A failed trap!
I hope I amused you, Dr. Archer, and your readers, as well.
What a great story! You did amuse me, and I think my favorite part is imagining you sneaking silently through a house, trying not to wake an old, blind, crippled dog. Very funny indeed!
Shame on that nanny for scaring a baby, how cruel that was, though she probably didn’t realize it at the time. To think your mom entrusted her to take care of her most prized possession, and she threatened to feed you to the snarling dogs. How frightening that must have been for you Marcia.
I'm glad you got over your fear of man's best friend. Animals are such an important, intricate part of many lives. They give so much and yet, in the end, the only thing they want in return is our love, and perhaps a slice or two of salami. Great success story!