Puppy Love, Again

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Family, Pets

I’ve been afraid of dogs for as long as I can remember. Still am, if truth be told, except for a few dogs and only after careful observation of their behavior.

I was 18 the first time I met a dog that I really loved, and eventually lost my fear of her. A beautiful Brittany spaniel named Lady owned by my ex-husband’s parents. She was a gentle and loving pet, smart as hell and was like Nana (The Darling’s dog from Peter Pan) to my sons. I remember her always going up to Naughty Bear when she would enter the room, giving him a sniff to make sure he was okay before going off to do her thing. There was even a time when a two-ish year old girl was petting Lady, until someone called her name. When she girl turned, her fist clenched reflexively. It would have been no big deal, except that it caused her to catch Lady’s upper eyelid in her little clenched fist. Lady didn’t bark, snap, growl or even move as the little girl’s fingers were gently taken out of Lady’s eye. I sat in awe as she held perfectly still and silent, and then immediately left the room when freed. I’m guessing she went to hide, but that inspired total trust in her on my part. She showed me that a dog could be more than just a high maintenance cat. And I’ve never really loved a dog that much since then, until Kaylee.

The two attempts in my Old Life to have dogs were disastrous, on many levels and for many reasons not worth going into here. I decided I was simply a Cat Person, and didn’t give it another thought until recent years led us to circumstances to be able to get Kaylee. I was going a bit baby crazy, and since we very maturely decided against having any more, that morphed into puppy crazy. We waited a few years for circumstances to be right before we began looking in earnest. Because of my base fear and previous experience, we sought out a puppy by breed rather than through the shelter. Oh, I tried the humane route and after being viciously barked at and seeing dogs throw themselves against the pens to try and get at me I gave up. They scared the bejesus out of me, to the point that I sat shaking in my car after each attempt.

We eventually found our pup through an online service and went to meet her while she was still too young to adopt. The owners were clearly devoted to their pets and the litter, and were lovingly attended to by the entire family.  Spending time with both of Kaylee’s parents prepared me for their large size and also enraptured me with their intelligence and sweet dispositions. Hubby, son and I completely in love with her, Kaylee Sioux Valentine joined our family about a year and a half ago.

Me and Kaylee - six months old

With Chooch’s help, and great follow-through by the boys, she has grown into a wonderful and loving, yet spirited companion. We definitely got lucky with her loving disposition, but it is clear to me that our consistency in training has helped with almost everything else that is so wonderful about her. She has even taken to our adventures, going with us to visit friends (she occasionally gets a little TOO excited playing with their pups, so we’re still working that out) and also on our runs around the neighborhood. She is great with strangers and other animals, although she still gets super excited when squirrels cross her path. This dog is a lifelong companion, and I look forward to our future together.

I have to say, this comes as quite a shock to me, even after all the years of having Lady in my life. My mother always attributed my fear of dogs to being bitten when I was very young. I don’t know if that’s it, as I certainly don’t remember the incident, but it’s definitely a primal fear. Even interacting with dogs owned by friends I still feel a flutter of panic when I encounter a new dog. And regardless of size, if the dog shows any aggression, the panic kicks in full force and I’m pretty much done. Instinct is key for me, and I always follow it. Maybe the dog bite actually is the root.

With this background, you can imagine my surprise when I came across some photos from when I was very young, playing with a very large dog. I’ve always remembered that we had a dog named Black Jack , but had no recollection of the animal itself. The joy in my face as I played with this beast shows that I wasn’t always terrified of big dogs. I was younger than 4 years old when we left that residence in Alaska, but beyond that have no idea how old I am.

Me and Black Jack

I’m still a Cat Person, and plan to have another some day. But I have to admit that
I kinda look like a Dog Person, too.

7 Responses to “Puppy Love, Again”

  1. Nuchtchas Says:

    it’s funny you mention being bitten as a child. My baby sister was bitten by my aunts dog when she was very little (like 5 or 6) and the tiny dog tore apart her face. From inside her nose down through her lip was completely split into two. It was awful, she still has a huge scar on her face, though I never notice it anymore I’m sure she is very aware of it.

    My baby sister is a dog person. She has a very rambunctious lab/terrier and she shoves her face near dogs all the time and it always makes me cringe a little.

    I am not a dog person, I love other people’s dogs but I stay away from the teeth. There has only been one dog I have ever trusted, and not until he was older. I think watching my baby sister go through what she did and hearing her scream and cries when it happened is what made me a cat person, yet for her, she loves dogs.

    I don’t get it

  2. vividmuse Says:

    Whoa, that’s a serious dog bite. Poor thing! Both of you! Her suffering through it and still having the scars and you having to bear witness with more understanding and probably a much clearer memory of it. It’s remarkable she’s not carrying a fear with such trauma having been done to her, she most be one fierce cookie!

    I’m pretty sure that would have kept me from dogs for life, too. I find it’s harder watching loved ones suffer than ourselves, especially wee ones. I can’t imagine such wounds on a 6 year old’s tiny face, it must have been so hard on you!

  3. Nuchtchas Says:

    My Baby sister has this great ability to block bad memories. She is like my Mom in that respect. She doesn’t remember the worst of my parents before and around the divorce (nor does my Mom) and in some ways she is lucky for that. In others I wonder what her subconscious is doing to her.

    My Baby sister is pretty amazing, but it is interesting how trauma effects people differently. I know she remembers the time, but I dont think she remembers the actual bite or the pain. She grew up with a big scar on her face and it couldn’t be covered with plastic surgery till she had finished growing, so she HAD to life with it. Somehow she of all my sisters has the best opinion of herself and her looks. When she was old enough to get surgery (only a few years ago) she opted to not get it. She says her scar is part of her and she can’t see changing her face, its what she knows. I can understand that to a point. I know when I cut my hair very short for locks of love it is really hard to look at myself in the mirror without long hair, it just doesn’t look like me, hair grows, I can’t imagine that with my face. It is odd though, another sister has a port wine birthmark on her forehead and she paid a lot and underwent a lot of pain lighten it to almost removal, and will be doing so again because it came back.

    It was hard to watch my sister go through everything when she was bit. I actually don’t remember what her face looked like then, I guess I didn’t look too often. I do remember never leaving her side. When she was home from school after it happened I was home from school too. My Mother had me stay to be with her so she had someone close in age to play with. I remember the only time not being with her was bed time, when she would sleep with my Mom. I always felt really protective of my baby sister and I wonder if this is why. Growing up she felt smothered by me and wanted me far away when she became a teen hee hee.

  4. Viv Says:

    I guess on some level it’s possible that she considers herself so lucky that she survived that the scar is small potatoes in comparison? Not sure, the mind and it’s defenses can be a pretty mysterious thing. I’m just happy she’s not suffering from it, as so many people do from such things. Like your other sister with the birthmark. I hate that she’s putting herself through that, but I’m no one to judge what one needs to find peace, that’s for sure.

    My baby sister has a small beauty mark under her eye, since she was very young. I doubt she’s ever considered removing it because that’s what we called it and she was proud of it. It differentiated her, along with her golden Shirley Temple curls. I can COMPLETELY relate on the mothering aspect, too. She’s nine years younger, and both my parents were working full time and taking college classes at night and on some weekends. My brother was a teen and was gone a lot, so I did a lot of babysitting/mothering. We had one HELL of a time when she went into her teens, same as you. I remember sitting there in the middle of fighting with her about one thing or another that I thought she shouldn’t be doing when I suddenly realized — she’s my sister, not my daughter. She was about 16, so I would’ve been 25. I had a conversation with her and tried to explain to her that I was going to work really hard to change that dynamic, but she was going to have to cut me some slack. I did, and she did and now we’re purely sisters. I’m still over-protective, but nearly not as bad as I was!

  5. Nuchtchas Says:

    My sister with the birthmark while having it there really does bother her and damage her self esteem, she only took the plunge when it started changing, and that can be risky. Now that it is back it is changing again, she will often bleed from it so it is wise to do it, but she didn’t have to have 4 treatments last time to fix the problem. This time she is taking it easier as the last treatment hurt so much and she never grew her full eyebrow back.

    Thats a great story about your younger sister. I had a similar thing with my oldest niece, but as she got older it was very easy for her not to see me as a mother figure, it was harder for me not to act like one

  6. Viv Says:

    Yikes! That’s a whole different thing altogether. I guess it goes without saying it’s been biopsied?

  7. Nuchtchas Says:

    Yes it has, nothing cancerous but it is something to watch often because cancer isn’t the only thing to worry about, especially so close to the eye

Leave a Reply