I remember when I was a little kid, I had this big fear of dogs, especially ones that liked to bark a lot when running up to you, no matter how small they were.
It scared the hell out of me, I’d panic and run away at the sight of a dog.
My mom used to tell me that dogs smell fear and that I had to try and act all cool about it so they wouldn’t bother me. But being a kid, that was all blah blah to me, how was I supposed to keep myself together while a dog was running towards me, barking their ass off and showing me their shiny teeth. Impossible.
Until one incident made me change my mind…
In Zimbabwe, for some years we lived in a penthouse on the ninth floor of a building. It was really cool, and had a great view. I also remember when Hayley’s comet passed by, all the neighbours came up to see it from our roof.
Anyway, one day when my mom and I were waiting for the elevator to go up to our place, one of the neighbours walked in with her dog. The woman was one of those snobby short-haired blondes and her dog was a small white poodle, but a nasty ferocious one, or at least that’s how I saw it then.
It was unleashed and this hairy little thing just came running at me, barking in this annoying tone. I panicked and ran for the stairs and started leaping up them like my life depended on it. By the time I got to the ninth floor, I was breathless and totally pooped out.
That day I took the decision that no dog was going to make me have to go through that again, especially not that tiny dumb one, and that I’d just have to learn how to deal with it. I started turning my mother’s words around in my head, trying to find a solution for my problem and putting a plan together.
Luckily enough, I had the gift of acting, and so my plan was to act as if I wasn’t scared of dogs and as if they weren’t even there in the first place. Pretty shaky for a plan, but hey I was just a little kid at the time and that’s the best I could come up with.
Time went by and yet again we ran into the same neighbour and her stupid dog. I panicked, but I was determined to stick to my plan. The dog, as if with pure evil in his eyes, ran up to me, barking and all, and I just stood there, about to do it in my pants, but doing my best not to show it, trying to keep up a conversation with my mother, which I’m almost sure became pretty senseless.
The dog turned around me a few times, sniffing around, like the fear detector that it is, was dissapointed, threw me a bad look from the corner of its eye, and then just shut up and left. That moment was one of ultimate victory for me, I had prevailed.
From that day on, I would never be afraid of any dog no matter how big they were, how scary they looked or how loud they barked.
And that’s mostly true, if I count out the occasional huge rabid dogs jumping at me out of nowhere on a dark night.
Lately I’ve been thinking that maybe the same approach could work with people.