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Jewish Journal

Forcing Dogs On the Phobic

by  Merissa Nathan Gerson

December 20, 2010 | 1:22 pm

Sometimes our vision warps thanks to past traumas. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II, phiary.com/diary/victor.

Dear Yenta,

I had some bad experiences with dogs when I was younger and prefer not to be around them. A lot of my friends have been getting dogs lately. Jeesh! You would think these dogs were their children! Some of them cook special vegetarian meals for them, dress them in sailor outfits and when I come to visit, they talk to the dogs more than me. Everything seems to revolve around the canines. A lot of them are ill-mannered and misbehave. I have actually been bitten by one, and my friend hardly acknowledged the event.

I love these friends and want to spend time with them but I don’t want to
hang out with their dogs. And please don’t say “meet them out somewhere”
because they’ll bring their dogs with them!! Any ideas on how to handle
this situation?

-Enough already with the dogs!

Dear EAWTD,

If you had been gang raped recently and then went to your friend’s house for dinner and she insisted on inviting large groups of strange men to join you, it would be rude. Yes? Yes. When you have been traumatized and the choices of your friends retrigger your trauma, it is something you should feel safe addressing. You need to be honest with these people, not about the humanization of animals, but about how uncomfortable you feel in their homes.

It is not a matter of sequestering the puppy, I understand that fear. People often grow protective, sometimes even defensive and vicious on the topic of wanting you to love their pets. I had one friend with a cat who would force me to pet and love it because she insisted the cat could sense my apathy towards it. It is weird and slightly controlling to presume everyone will love your newly purchased dog. Approach this friend knowing that they like mothering a bitch. Ie, be cautious with your approach and make it as about you as possible.

“I love you and I love coming over to your house, but when I was a teenager three dogs attacked me and tore off my missing pinky, the one you always ask about. Anyway, it is really hard for me to be around animals now, could we maybe keep Fido in the other room when I come over?” If they can’t honor your feelings when stated in such a way, a way that doesn’t sideline the dog and highlights your sensitivity, then maybe take a break from spending time together while they are honeymooning with their K9.

All in all it boils down to asking for what you need. It is impossible for people to resolve all their traumas at once. This looming one is one you should handle with care by finding a way to spend time with these people without inducing a panic attack. In the meantime, on your end, maybe consider this plethora of dogs as a calling to your fear, reminding you that there is something inside of you that might need conquering.

Check out this article on helping kids overcome their fear of dogs, the simplicity of her advice might be easiest to apply, or read this article on releasing yourself from this fear. You could also visit Phobia-Fear-Release.com or try buying this hypnosis video.

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Ask Yenta an anonymous question!  Send an e-mail via www.send-email.org to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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With more than 10 years of talk therapy under her belt, Merissa has waded through life’s dilemmas with a constant reflective therapeutic bird on her shoulder. Add a few...

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