Dog Phobias Legitimized

When you own a pet, it’s hard to understand how people don’t like animals. I have dealt with this my whole life, as I have always been an animal lover, but recently I have changed my view of non- animal lovers. The reason for this change was because of one of my lifelong friend, Andrea.  She is a constant traveler, gallivanting around the world with her trusty backpack and a smile. She comes home to Toronto about once a year to make some money bartending, then after saving a suitable amount jets off again to her next adventure.

Andrea just got home from 9 months in South America, and strangely enough, came back with a new phobia, she is now afraid of dogs she doesn’t know. Andrea was raised with pets, had friends with pets, and before travelling wouldn’t think twice to petting a dog that approaches her in a park or on the street. Since travelling, she is extremely wary of strange dogs, and is too nervous to even come into Greenwood off leash dog park with me and my little schnauzer.

While Andrea was in South America, she was exposed to many wild and feral dogs. When she first was there she would try to pet a street dog that was wagging its tail on the street or lying outside a shop, but quickly came to realize she could be growled at, chased and bitten by any of these dogs, regardless of how friendly they looked. She has accounted stories of being chased by a pack of feral street dogs and even had to hide in a store to escape them.

In our multi-cultural society of East York, we have people from all corners of the globe. You can bet that many people from different backgrounds have had experiences like this with dogs in other countries.

This should be a reminder to all of us dog owners, walkers and animal lovers that there are people around us that have legitimate reasons why they are afraid of dogs, and we should be sensitive that. Whenever we are walking our dogs, we should be mindful that every person that walks by us could have been attacked by a dog in the past, so keep your dog away from them. We should also make sure that our dogs are always leashed unless in an off-leash area. Although your dog may be the nicest guy in the world, that information means nothing to someone who has had a bad experience with dogs. Your dog going up to one of these people is most likely going to make them more scared in the future.

Living in Toronto, we have not to go through the same experiences as someone who has been around feral dogs, and even though you may not understand why they are afraid of your dog, their fears should be respected. We should feel lucky that we live in a society with a certain degree of control on pet population!