How My Dog Inspires Me to Overcome My Irrational Fears

Like Millie, I can overreact to situations, become defensive and unreasonable and apprehensive. I shout occasionally when I should speak softly, snap at people I should be kind to.

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Guideposts Editor-in-Chief Edward Grinnan

Millie is not a fearful or an aggressive dog. True, she’s wary of riding in the car, but that’s because I got into an accident with her when she was still a puppy and she has never forgotten the Jeep flipping over and landing in a swamp (thank God we weren’t hurt).

Loud metallic crashing sounds make her skittish but again that can be traced to her puppyhood: She flew alone to New York when she was 10 weeks old and all the airport clatter scared her. Otherwise she is kind, patient, curious and extremely friendly. She’s never growled at anyone and has never been in a fight with another dog. Nothing seems to trouble her. Except horses.

For reasons I can’t fathom and God refuses to explain to me, Millie goes berserk at the sight of a horse. I mean she totally loses it. This normally happy, placid animal will practically pull me off my feet if she sees a horse-drawn carriage or mounted policeman, roaring like a lion, lunging furiously and snapping her jaws.

The actual presence of a horse is not even required to elicit this hysterical response. The mere scent of one or the sound of equine hooves clacking on the pavement will drive her into a frenzy from which she cannot not be restrained. I just have to wait until it passes, which can take a while. Even after a horse is no longer on the scene she will have outbursts of barking, like some kind of canine maniac.

“I can’t explain this craziness,” I told a fellow dog-owner. “She just goes nuts.”

“Well,” my friend said, “she clearly has an irrational fear of horses.”

Can dogs have irrational fears? Are dogs even rational, at least in the human sense? I thought about that. Anyone who’s had a dog knows they can figure stuff out, especially when it involves food. Therefore a dog can be rational and can thus have irrational fears. Of course, I could explain to Millie there’s no reason for her fear until I was blue in the face and it wouldn’t do any good.

But it made me think about my own fears, some of which are irrational. Maybe most of them. Like Millie, I can overreact to situations, become defensive and unreasonable and apprehensive. I shout occasionally when I should speak softly, snap at people I should be kind to and go on the offensive before I am attacked. In short, I let my fear take over and act irrationally.

One of these days I’m going to figure out Millie’s equinophobia. In the meantime I will learn a lesson from it and a prayer: God, protect me from my fears.

Do you or your pet have an irrational fear? Please post below.

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Tags: Dogs,Pets,Prayer
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