Friday, November 26, 2010

Full of Fear

Full of fear...fear of dogs that is.  There are some caveats: only dogs I don't know and dogs that are barking aggressively.  Ever since I took my jogging habit to the neighborhood streets shortly after college, I have realized this fear pretty regularly.  My gauntlet, (cue creepy theme music here), is a long straight stretch of fence lined path in a suburban Colorado area that is bound to have a medium to large sized dog in at least every other yard.  Holy moly - I feel the anxiety rising even as I type.     

Over the years, I have sought to confront the fear through a variety of tactics: flooding, systematic desensitisation, meditation, deep breathing, singing hymns, all with variable levels and lengths of success.  And yes - all while jogging.  But the truth remains - I am afraid of dogs I don't know.  (Okay - even those that don't bark aggressively). 

And have I even mentioned invisible fences that give this white girl a heart-a-stroke every time I encounter one.  Startle reflex does not even begin to describe it.

Enter my sister.  Meredith and I took a run last Saturday while visiting my parents home in Maryland.  I was enjoying the benefits of lesser altitude and she was hating the time/exercise constraints of being a mommy of two, full time employee, and MBA student.  Enter dog - snarling, woofing, foaming, hunting - Lizzy - FREAKING OUT!  ...on the inside ... or so I thought.  I swear, I didn't even flinch.  And my sister calmly gasps, "Liz - they have have an invisible fence.  See the way the dog is running along the perimeter...its fine."  It's fine.  It's fine.  It really is fine.  I could have cried.

Some fears linger, get stuck, return, no matter the effort, surrender, or softening.  But their power dissipates surprisingly quickly when someone sees the fear and the truth.  Especially when they know you and can detect it as you do...for you.   Especially when you know they would kick the bloodthirsty predator's booty if it even got close to you.  (Meredith is 5'2" and as feisty as they come).

BTW - I really do love dogs I know.  Maebe, Zeke, Bailey, Angel, Sakari, Radley, Charlie to name a few

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