When I was a wee lass of about 2 I believe, I had a scare with a hot dog. Not the kind you eat (unless you're some kind of nut) but the kind you have as a pet, a dachshund if you will. I do not remember the incident, but from what my mother tells me since that day I have been petrified of dogs. It apparently barked and jumped at me. When you are two, that is frightening as all get out.
Growing up, anywhere my family or I in singular went had to be cleared in advance of any canine species. I am sure this was a nightmare for my parents who were not only hauling a frightened Marcella around, but also four other children all under the age of 6.
Birthday parties were the worst. My mom and the party givers mom would assure me that any dogs would be out of sight during the party (as they should be anyway), but it NEVER failed that about half an hour into the "festivities" someone would say, "Let's play with Satan" and out would come the dog. That'd be my cue to hide in the bathroom or to sit on a chair as far away from the group and hug my legs so that my feet wouldn't be dangling should said hound of hell decide to bite me. In addition to be petrified of dogs, I was also painfully quiet as a child, and would rarely talk or speak up if I were uncomfortable in someone else's home. I would silently sit calming my nerves and hoping that my mom would know I was in imminent danger and come get me. The worst part of this fear though, was that most people had no concept of the reality of my actual fear. They thought it was funny or that I was just overreacting. Believe you me, I wish I had been, because if you have this type of fear, rational or irrational, it is not fun or funny.
At one scary birthday party, the dogs and kids all went inside, and since I was too scared to go in with them, I just stood around outside until the party girl's mother happened to see me standing like a dope in her backyard about half an hour later. She made light of it with a joke about their being dogs next door that were outside. Lovely woman, she was.
As I got older my fear of dogs subsided a bit. We had a German Shepard (who later developed epilepsy and attacked my mom, almost ripping her hand off) named Rambo when I was in fifth and sixth grade, so that helped me become a little braver around the smaller variety of dogs, but anything bigger than my shins was still something of a nightmare. In fact, it still is. I rarely take my kids for walks around our neighborhood for fear of some rogue pit bull or whatever kind of dog someone in this city might have decided was "just friendly" and allowed to run free (in our city with a "strict leash law"). Just today I took the first walk of this entire YEAR with my kids, and I was white knuckled the entire time. Each house passed by was carefully inspected for any sign of the enemy.
When I was working weddings, I went on a bridal hair trial at the bride's home. It was one of my early jobs, and I didn't have any real "rules" set in place at this point, so when I arrived at the front door (my loving husband dropped me off and proceeded to go do something probably awesome whilst I was working) I hear what sounds like a pack of wolves howling and barking. "It's probably just a few chihuahuas" is what I thought to myself. Then the door opened and I was face to face with some type of pit bull mix that looked like it wanted to take my face off. I'm sorry people, I know you love your pit bulls, and more power to you, but I don't. I have the right to not love them just as much as you have the right to name them Tyson, Dyson, Baby, Killer or whatever.
So anyway... Immediately upon entering the house I excused myself to the bathroom and locked the door. I was shaking like mad and felt like 6 year old Marcella at the birthday party again. Throughout the entire hair trial said dog would snarl and bark at me, as if I were killing its owner. Finally I couldn't handle anymore and asked if the dog could go into another room. The owner/bride was a little put off, but I was starting to fear for my life. It was at that moment that I realized I needed to make a No Dogs Allowed clause in my hair trial and wedding contracts. After the trial the bride and groom took me to din-din at my favorite Chinese restaurant as a thank you for working with them. It was so nice to get out of the path of the dog for a while. Dinner was lovely and I was finally starting to calm down. I'd hoped that Jay (my husband who left me at the pits of fear of dog hell that day) would be waiting for me when we got back to the house. So the meal was finished, and as we are walking out the panic started to return to my body. And then as if by some grace of jeebus, who do I spy walking into the restaurant but my sister and brother in law! They were picking up some take out for my mom. DING DING DING went the bell in my head!! "Guys, why don't you follow us to their house and I'll go back to Mom's house with you and call Jay from there." It was totally awkward but I was too frightened to explain or even set foot into the house again. When I explained the situation to my sister on the ride to my mom's she was hysterical with laughter, but knowing my history fully understanding of the situation!
So what is my point...I don't know, perhaps I am just feeling a little silly for being a thirty two year old dame with an irrational fear of dogs, but I guess my point is that no fear should go punished or frowned upon. Irrational or not, if you're afraid of balloons popping near electric lights and causing the entire house to catch on fire, dogs, or wind rustling the leaves on the trees after you've had far too much caffeine, I'm not going to judge you, its not your fault.