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The Column

I've Grown Accustomed to Your Wet Nose
9/14/03

I used to be scared of dogs. Probably because when I was a one-year-old, a dog tried to maul me. While my parents were looking at houses, a neighbor's dog came a few inches from what I can only assume to be swallowing me whole. And I was a pretty big baby.

As I got older and less swallowable, the incidents continued. I'd temporarily gotten over my fear of dogs by playing with B-V, a fellow resident of 84th Drive. But B-V died when I was four, and B-V Jr. was a crude replacement. A crude four-year-old-eating replacement. I was also upset because I could spell B-V, but the word "junior," to a four-year-old, should not be spelled like the word "jirr."

My dog problems culminated a few years later when I was playing catch with my older brother Adam. We'd been out a while and decided to sit for a few minutes. With no warning other than a bunch of barking and a loud collar jangling, a large dog bolted towards my brother. The dog easily knocked Adam over, no small feat to me considering how large a 12-year-old looked to eight-year-old me. After defeating the leader of the pack (a two-person pack, but a pack nonetheless), the dog headed straight for me in an attempt to finish the job. I did the only thing I could. I ducked. Did Kujo bite me? Scratch me? Shoot me with the laser beam attached to his collar? Worse - it jumped over me, kicking me in the head as it landed.

That's right - I am the only person in the world to have been jump kicked in the head by a dog.

As I got older (see 20s, early), I began realizing my fear of dogs was irrational. I am bigger than most dogs, and thus they should be afraid of me. But it's not COMPLETELY irrational. In a fight, a dog has less to lose. You can't reason with a dog. And dogs don't follow the 11th commandment of "though shall not bite thy opponent in the crotchal area." Nevertheless, I'm now okay with most things of the dog-al persuasion.

My friend Josh helped this process, since his dog Herbie was a total wuss. Herbie was a great dog, and a big dog, but the meanest thing he ever did was chew on our socks. Have you ever had someone you go drinking with, but you know the only contribution he'd make in a bar fight would be to open the door while he's running away? That was Herbie. He got into a surprising amount of bar fights for a dog.

The next big step was recent, when I was staying in Michigan with family friends. They had two dogs, Chewbacca and Annie. (I love that "Chewbacca" doesn't come up as a new word in spell check). Aptly named, Chewbacca was a loving, yet large and hairy beast, while Annie was a little red-headed brat. After five days of playing with these dogs, I'd grown attached to them. So it was perfectly natural that as I was opening the front door to leave, Annie bolted out and made me chase her for a mile. No, she did not escape by hiding in a laundry basket.

I finally got tired and stopped running - and so did Annie. So I turned around, and she started coming towards me. I stopped again, and she started walking away again. So I started walking back to the house, and she began following me. And that's when I realized it - I'd dated so many girls like that. When Annie finally came close enough for me to grab her collar, I looked her in the eyes and said, "I think we should see other dogs. It's not you, it's me."

Right now, I'm staying in a friend's place in South Carolina, and she has the biggest small dog I've ever seen. It's tiny - I could probably punt it clear across the street - if my friend wasn't watching. But it's bark could wake the neighbors. Okay, it couldn't wake the neighbors. Because who could fall asleep with all that barking?

My friend does what any dog owner does when her dog gets too loud. She shushes it. Now THAT is irrational.

"ARF ARF ARF ARF ARF!"

"Shhh."

"Oh, I'm sorry. Am I disturbing you, human? I can see why you're having such a tough day, what with you being the one not on a leash. I'll try to keep it down. arf! arf?"

But even with all the barking, no ability to reason, and her desire to bite me in the crotch, I'm actually going to miss her when I leave.

I meant the dog, stupid.

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