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Friday, August 11, 2006

Not a "Pet Person"

I was chatting with Stacey yesterday. Her dog, Lizzie, died suddenly after being diagnosed with cancer. Lizzie was her constant companion and a member of her family for more than 13 years, longer than her kids or even her husband. She is understandably devastated. I tried to offer my condolences (pay an online "shiva call", if you will), when she asked me if I'd ever had a dog.

So that's when I had to admit that, no, I've never owned a dog, and to be quite honest, I don't really like them. I've never been a "Pet Person".

OK, let's be frank. I'm scared of dogs. I have a "phobia" to dogs (cynophobia?). I cannot relax if there is a dog in the room. I constantly am afraid the dog will attack me or possibly lick me. Our best friend recently got a dog--a delightful little Boston Terrier. I have never heard this dog bark. He's cute as a button. I am terrified of him. I cannot sit down when I go to their house for fear of him pouncing on me. I know this is probably something genetic as Fudge and The PT have the same problem. However, Iguana is curiously immune and loves to go over and play with him and walk him.

I can't point to any specific "trauma" that triggered this. I've never been bitten by a dog. I recall being scared of dogs as a young child. My uncle had a big black lab and every time we went over, the same thing would happen. My father would ring the doorbell. Then the barking would start. Then one of my cousins would open the door. Then the dog would make a bee-line for me and try to tackle me. But after a little while, I could calm myself enough to pet her and maybe tolerate being in the same room. But I would never enjoy it. My mother used to tell me horror stories about German Shepherds during the Holocaust; maybe that has something to do with it.

So then the conversation turned towards her cats. Can't abide cats. I actually did get scratched by a cat at my Aunt's house when I was very small. Also I had a bad experience with a cat when I was engaged and playing a Shabbaton at Einstein with my band. I stayed in some resident's apartment for Shabbos. His wife had me sleep in the living room on the couch. She said, as she left the room, something to the effect of "and the cat will sleep in here with you."

I did not sleep a wink that night. Everytime I was about to nod off, the cat jumped on my head. Finally, exhausted, I lured the cat into the bathroom and closed the door. This was around 3am.

At 4am, their kid woke up and went to the bathroom and let the cat out.

So....not a Pet Person.

But I did have fish. I loved my fish. I had goldfish, and tetras, and a fakoktemus plecostemus, and even some fighting fish. I kept the fishtank going for about 5 years. Until The PT dumped a whole bottle of fish food into the tank.

I hope Stacey got a chuckle out of our conversation. May she know no more sorrow.


Stacey said...

I cannot imagine being afraid of dogs. (I think I like them better than humans)!

I did appreciate our conversation (it made me giggle!) and I am feeling a little better today. It has been a very difficult week, for sure. Thanks!

Lakewood Venter said...

I am with you 100% on this one! I too have a phobia of dogs (though I think i know hy, but we won't get into that here)

But yes, we all wishher well, and may she heal speedily from her loss

Another meshugannah mommy said...

I cannot relate at all! I grew up with doggies, and now have two cats. They used to sleep at my feet, but one is now trying to sleep on my head. I love them.

cruisin-mom said...

sorry p.t...I LOVE dogs. But I think you are incredibly sweet the way you cheered Stacey up during this rough time.

Jack's Shack said...

I despise cats, but love dogs. A dog really is man's best friend.

PsychoToddler said...

I can't believe there aren't more Jews out there who are afraid of dogs! I thought this was a racial trait!

I also can't believe none of you have used the line from "Everything is Illuminated" yet! Shame on you for not taking my movie recommendations!

Nati said...

No insults intended to Sammy Davis Jr., Jr (being married to a Russian speaker - of course we saw it! - but what's the line you're referring to? Am I being really spacey about this?) but I . . . really . . . strongly dislike dogs. A lot. Back in Israel as a child, I was once snuck up on by a really large dog, but I am generally just not a pet person at all and don't understand the appeal. I try not to give the fear over to my kids, but they really sense it . . although the baby is young and uninhibited enough to let our friends' dogs lick his face and jump around all over him.

The Halpers said...

Here are two pics from our loveable German Shepherd (75lb at 9 Months)...



Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

I think Jews have traditionally been wary of dogs. It may just be a Middle Eastern thing.

However, my whole family is nuts about dogs, so, well, I guess we got over it, or the European influence built up, or something. There is, basically, nothing on earth cuter than a puppy. I have nothing against cats, but they don't inspire that "OH GOD, I HAVE TO PET IT" response in me. I'm just pathologically afraid of spiders.

When I was a young teenager, my parents got a German shepherd mix who we had for thirteen years, and mourn to this day. He was wonderful. I'm beginning, gradually, to think about having another dog someday, although as I've confided to the fella, getting a dog with him seems a far more concrete committment than, say, a chuppah, or having children together.

BTW, for Jewish dog lovers everywhere, check out www.pupsforpeace.org. Way cool.

RR said...

My sister and I share your aversion to dogs (don't like cats much, either)- to this day, they make me uneasy. Don't know why. Though I do understand how dogs become one of the family. I just can't warm up to them.

But I'm ALWAYS the only one in any group who feels this way. Everyone else is crazy about animals. Including my husband. And my kids. They would LOVE to get a dog, but I can't do it. Just can't.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

dogs are way too interested in other people's crotches.

Nati said...

Ok, ok, been thinking this one through.. I am distressed by dogs!

PsychoToddler said...

Grandfather informs me...this is not possible.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

I am scared/phobic of dogs. I got my daughter to like dogs by pretending I am fine with them. It worked.