You know those crazy questions people ask as icebreakers? Things like “what’s your second favorite movie” or “ if you could be a vegetable, which one would you be”… Yep, those questions. I never have good answers to any of them so they frustrate me. But there’s one question that if asked my answer will cause a collective gasp from everyone in the room. Trust me.
Question: “What’s something that most people like, but you don’t?”
My Answer: “Dogs”
Yes, my name is April Thomas and I don’t/didn’t like dogs. <Pause for gasps of horror, shocked faces, fainting women, angry men, etc.> Hear me out though. As a 4 year old kid, a dog jumped on me and pinned me to the ground. It was scary and from that point on I had a pretty significant fear of canines. It didn’t matter if they were big or small, if they touched me I was either moderately uncomfortable or more likely climbing to the highest nearby surface to escape. Now, if a great dane approached, I forgot how to run and would just faint. True story.
Now here is where I will likely lose all of you.
I also think dogs smell and the odor makes me nauseous. I know. I know. I’m sure your fur baby smells like rose petals because you wash them daily/weekly or because they were born with a unique gene or something. But some of us (ok me) were born with an olfactory setting that prevents us from tolerating the wafts of canine scent that penetrate the room and ultimately the skull. Speaking of penetrating a room, the hair gets everywhere. Yes, I know you can brush the furry friend, but the shedding is still a thing and it’s a thing I can not live with. No amount of vacuuming can contain it and I wear a lot of black. I’d prefer not to look like a wolf person when I leave the house.
Don’t get me started on the barking.
So here we are. I’m probably the only person on the planet that really doesn’t care for dogs. I had grown accustomed to my position on this subject. Three years ago, that’s where this would have ended. But then …our daughter Alaine and her husband Cameron got a golden retriever.
At first, I couldn’t handle being in the same room with Lakeland (yes that’s his name). But I warmed up to him as we got to know each other. He understood he could not jump on me or even touch me. And I tried to pet his back once or twice. Eventually, we were able to coexist in the same space and I did not freak out. Progress.
April kinda likes some dogs some of the time.
Now back living in Lakeland (yes with a dog named Lakeland and we explain this often), Alaine invited me to go with her to the Lake Crago dog park. With no hesitation or consideration of risk, I went. My body went into shock as I stepped through the gate. What was I thinking?! As we arrived I quickly became surrounded by seven other dogs of varying heights, weights and traits. It was like the 6th circle of hell. I wanted to run away, scale the fence, hide in the bathroom…but chose to sit on the bench and take it all in. It stunk. It was noisy. People were picking up dog poo (thankfully, but also EW). I sat there and thought – “I have come a long way.”
In retrospect, I was never ashamed of my uncommon opinion. I had long accepted my feelings and their unpopularity. But working through them meant I could enjoy visiting my kids at their home and not spend the entirety of the visit atop the kitchen island. I may not want to own a dog myself, but I didn’t want to be bound by fear anymore either. So I gradually completed my internal 12 step process to be able to co-exist alongside the canine species. Lakeland and I talked about it and he understands me so now we are friends. He even protects me at the dog park since I still don’t like most of the others.
Austin (youngest of our 4) and Nicole (his wife) now have a dog too. She’s a cockadoodle poodle whoodle strudel noodle or something like that and she’s also in the inner circle. She’s precious, I like her and we are friends too. Go. Me. In fact, they asked me to dog sit this past weekend. (Yes, they trusted me alone with the pooch. That deserves it’s on post.) We did great thanks to fabulous detailed instructions and videos left by my son. The apple doesn’t fall far…
I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks. (couldn’t resist) And now I need a new answer to that dang ice breaker question.
P.S. Lakeland sat beside me as I wrote this. Full circle transformation right there.