Walk Through Your Fear

Dogs can have strange fears. My dog faced one of hers and taught me something in the process.

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What can I say? Edward Grinnan’s blog about his dog’s car phobia inspired me to write about my dog’s strange fears. One of them, anyway.

Thunderstorms. Sirens. Skateboards. People shouting or moving erratically. Those street cleaning machines with their menacing brushes.

Any of the above would freak out most dogs. Not Winky. Even with horses—whose sheer mass ought to instill a healthy respect—she’s more curious than cautious. She goes right up to them and sniffs repeatedly like she’s conducting some sort of investigation into what strange Brobdingnagian breed of dog they are.

So I was surprised on our morning walk when Winky came to an abrupt stop right in the middle of the sidewalk. I tugged the leash, but she planted her paws and absolutely would not take another step. What was up with her?

I peered down the block. No one—canine or human—was coming toward us. The only person on the sidewalk was halfway down the block, a beer truck driver unloading kegs for one of the pubs on Third Avenue. I looked back at Winky. Her gaze was trained on those kegs, her whole body clenched with fear.

That’s when I remembered. Months ago, we were walking by a beer guy pushing a handtruck loaded with kegs when one rolled off and nearly hit us. Winky started but nimbly jumped out of the way. I thought she’d put the experience behind her. Clearly not.

I didn’t want her to have post-traumatic keg disorder. “Okay, Winky, let’s go,” I said in a bright but firm tone. I gave the leash a brisk tug and started walking. She took one tentative step forward. Then another.

We picked up the pace. “Good girl!” I said as we passed the man with the kegs. “Walk through your fear.”

Hmm, I’ll have to remember that the next time I face something that scares me.

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