Today you have the pleasure of reading my ramble about how I believe I developed my fear, and general disapproval, of animals. If you are pro-animals and/or keep pets. And you love those pets. More than the people in your life. I suggest you stop reading. Because if you keep reading, you may come to hate me. And I don’t handle being hated very well.
Now that a few of you have left me (I didn’t really want those readers anyways) I’ll share my theories about animals and my hatred of such creatures.
The Fear of Dogs
When I was little, our neighbours had mean dogs. I think they were Rottweilers or German Shepherds or some other breed that is legitimately scary and from which it is appropriate to run in terror. Especially because these were not particularly well-trained dogs. I have two memories of these dogs, both involve grownups running from them in terror (which was the appropriate reaction to these evil creatures). The first involves the fact that these dogs would often take pleasure in jumping over the hedge that separated our backyard from our neighbour’s. Once, when our babysitter was over, we wanted to go play in the backyard. Unfortunately, our neighbour’s scary dog was hanging out in our backyard. The babysitter frantically ushered us back inside. Panic and pandemonium ensued.
If this had not been enough to scar me for life with regards to dogs and teach me that running and screaming is always the appropriate response to encounters with any dog (big or small, mean or nice) there was another incident involving my dad. Please note that this incident has probably been dramatized, melodramatized and sensationalized in my memory, but regardless, this flawed memory has come to shape my life and who I am as an evil dog-hater. The story (as I remember it) is that my dad was taking in the empty garbage cans from the curb, and he was attacked by one of these dogs. Thankfully, he ran away before they could do anything to him. I don’t think I actually witnessed this, but I do know that I definitely overheard something along those lines and it taught me that those dogs truly are scary — if even my daddy was afraid of them — and that when you see a dog, you should run away — because that’s what my daddy did. (Note: I just fact checked this story with ‘Daddy’ and he denies that it ever happened. I’m sharing anyways, because I’ve been under the conviction that it did for my entire life and I really do blame this ‘memory’ for my fear of dogs.)
Also, I am not just scared of mean dogs. My juvenile mind generalized this fear and couldn’t distinguish between the mean dogs and the nice dogs. They were all evil and I used to run in terror from my grandmother’s stupid little Bijon Frise (may that stupid little dog rest in peace). I’ve had to reign in my terror over the years, as my mother threatens to disown me when I embarrass her by literally running from dogs screaming. Despite my attempts to repress my fear, I still cannot see the point of keeping a dirty, smelly dog in your house. Dog owners and their strange habits (referring to their pets as their ‘babies’, talking to other dog owners while walking their dogs, buying snow boots for their dogs, etc.) will never make sense to me.
The Distaste for Cats
Hopefully this section will be very short, because even just thinking or writing about cats gives me the heebie-jeebies and makes me cringe, but I don’t think I can write a comprehensive post about my hatred for animals without reference to these icky animals. I believe I inherited this irrational fear from my mother, and then multiplied any distaste she has for the animal by about ten. She, at least, has a legitimate reason for her hatred — she’s insanely allergic to cats. (I wish I had such a good excuse and I often tell people I’m allergic so that they keep their vile creatures away from me.) Again, due to my juvenile logic, I assumed that if my mother was allergic to cats, and she didn’t like them near her, they must be a very unique brand of evil, to be avoided at all costs. As with dogs, when I see cats, running and screaming tend to ensue. However, unlike dogs, who like to chase you when you run screaming, this is a very good technique for repelling cats as my shrieks of terror tend to terrify them and they go away.
Before I move on to animals that nauseate me less, I want to make a literary connection, as this was supposed to be a bookish blog. While Anne Shirley and Emily Starr (the heroines of Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery) are very much like myself (and I often wonder how LMM wrote a book about me about a hundred years before I was born) there are a few differences between me and these girls. The key difference is that they both tend to adore cats. I was so conflicted when reading these books, because I had my high and mighty values of feline-hatred to maintain, but LMM is just such a great writer that at one point I even remember sympathizing with Emily’s missing of her cats. This sympathy, however didn’t last long. LMM proceeded to write for two consecutive pages about the ‘loveliness’ of the freaking cats, and those were the only pages in an LMM book that I felt compelled to skip. I didn’t, because I didn’t know how long it would last and I was afraid of missing any of the good stuff, but just know that I felt physically ill as I skimmed through those pages.
Back to the Horses
After my literal experience involving getting back on a horse I don’t recall going horseback riding again for quite a while. Of course, I also don’t remember the original experience (I just know that story that my mom told — it happened when I was really young) so it doesn’t necessarily follow that I didn’t get on another horse between then and the next story. The next story happened at an apple picking farm, when I believe I was in my early to mid teens. We went apple picking one fall day with family friends of ours and besides the horse story I’m about to tell, the only other thing I remember about this day is a black cat among the apple trees that sent me running and screaming. After the running and screaming, there was a merry-go-round, which had real horses (or probably ponies) tethered to a contraption to make them walk in a circle. I was too afraid to try this ride, but our family friend’s child did and proved that staying firmly on the ground had been the right decision. Basically, the horse she was on got spooked and jumped up on its hind legs (much like what had happened to me when I was little). This just reconfirmed what I already knew (about the unpredictability and terrifyingess of animals) and I vowed never to get on a horse again.
But then I did. And it’s a great story about how I ended up having a great time horseback riding along the beach, but that doesn’t really fit in thematically with the rest of this post about how evil and scary animals are, so I’m not going to talk about that experience. Mostly because such experiences (with positive, cliched, happy endings) are rarely as entertaining as experiences that go horribly, hilariously wrong (which is also why there won’t be a post about prom, because everything went boringly well). I will end off with telling the begining of the positive horseback riding story though, because the beginning is pretty humourous. I finally got up on the horse, after much coaching, coaxing and crying and I was very proud of my accomplishment, so I stopped crying and even began to smile. Then I had a minor panic attack and started screaming and crying all over again because “OH MY GOD!! THIS HORSE IS MOVING!! IT JUST TOOK A STEP!!! PLEASE, PLEASE LET ME GET OFF!!”
So, how do you feel about animals? Do you sympathize and like me a little more now? Or do you think I’m an awful person for not loving animals? If you fit into the latter group, you should have stopped reading when I suggested you leave in the first paragraph. So it’s really your fault.