This post might not be very well received, but I decided to take a chance and write it anyway. I have Cynophobia- a fear of dogs, I have realized now that people are very sensitive about their pets, and they don’t understand phobia. Let me explain.
If you are like me, you grew up in India and have some horror stories about being chased by stray dogs that tried to or succeeded in biting you. Now if you didn’t have a pet growing up, these episodes build a phobia in your head and you really cannot be around dogs. Don’t get me wrong, it is not that I hate them or anything, I actually enjoy watching cute dogs scamper around, I just cannot handle them near me.
But in the US, people grow up with dogs, never have stray dogs that try to bite, and love their pets like their kids. To them, this whole phobia thing is crazy!
I was at a Super Bowl party last week, and one of the guests brought an adorable albeit hyperactive puppy to the party. There were already 40 people stuffed in to a room, and the puppy had no where to go. I started jumping on the guests, especially the ones that had food. The owner of the dog saw my jumpy reactions, and guessed that I was scared and her response was “my dog is tiny, it won’t do anything”.
Another incident in the same vein-I went to my husband’s colleague’s house for dinner, and she failed to mention she had a dog. My husband tried to explain to her that I have had some bad experiences with the dog and that is why I am scared. But she took it personally, she told the dog “I know you want to play with them, but they don’t want you”.
Incidents like this sadden me because people aren’t compassionate to the feelings of others around them. The part people don’t get is it isn’t personal, I am not saying I am scared of your dog, its all dogs. It isn’t that I just don’t like animals, it is a phobia that comes out of personal experiences (you can test that by just checking my pulse and blood pressure-it would be all over the place due to sheer fear, I am almost close to a panic attack). Most people scoff when you say you are scared of dogs, and end up saying things like “my dog doesn’t bite” or “he just likes you, don’t be afraid” but you have to understand it is a whole lifetime of fear, it cannot change when I meet one cute dog! This becomes a bigger issue in United States where there is a large prevalence of dogs- estimated 78.2 million dogs in United States in 2011 according to the Humane Society. I try to stay calm and not stare but they can smell my fear and panic.
What do you think? Do you agree? (Please don’t send me hate comments!)