So… I’m scared of dogs. Ahh I’m glad I finally got that off my chest. This phobia wasn’t innate; it was onset as a child when I saw my sister get attacked by a neighbor’s German Shepherd. “Saw” actually isn’t the best descriptor, considering I ran inside and hid as soon as the dog started chasing her.

Let me set the scene. My oldest sister had just gotten a bike and was riding around the neighborhood. She got off of training wheels pretty quickly, so she was happy to show off her new skills. We had a neighbor who, as far as I could tell, was the bully at his school. He was the kid that would look you in the eye, make a fist, and pound that fist into his hand, as a representation of what he would do to you if he happened to be having a bad day. His German Shepherd was much like him.

One day, this neighborhood bully felt like picking on someone, and this someone happened to be my sister. I don’t remember exactly how it happened; all I remember is him saying something along the lines of “Fido, sick ‘em!!” The rest was history. I ran inside and the dog began to chase my sister until she eventually fell off of her bike. I wasn’t sure if she had been bitten or just fell, but either way the trauma had already set in. No other dogs were going to get a chance. And so, my phobia began.

I began choosing alternate walking routes, based on whether a dog was in the area or not. I also began asking friends to put their dogs up before I came over. Earlier this year even I remember being invited to a friend’s house multiple times, but never going because I had met their dogs once and didn’t like them. Even Chihuahuas scared me! This phobia was getting out of hand, so I decided to do something about it. I started my own personal dog-therapy.

My version of therapy consisted of weekly visits to friends’ houses to play with their dogs. It also consisted of walking these pets on my own without the owner around. Eventually, my love for dogs grew, but the fear was still there.

As I was telling one of my friends about this fear, he recently reminded me of this simple truth. “Since the fear is all in your mind, there’s not too much training you can do to fix that fear. Just change your thinking.” I’m working on it. Jax, Riley, Dapper, Bella (or “Shedog” as I like to call her) and Lira have all helped with this process. Now I’m asking for your help too.

When those of you with dogs see me, help me get over my fear by asking me to pet your dog. If I don’t, I’ll hand you an LFG bracelet. But I may have to throw you the bracelet because I’ll probably be on the other side of the street!

What fears do you have? Are they hindering you from every day life? Ask someone close to you for their help in getting over them.