When your neighbor knocks on your door at 9 PM at night, a lot of things go through your mind. I answered the door with my two labs in tow, barking, and carrying on. While they are fairly obedient, they have been known to forget themselves for a minute or two, especially the seven month old puppy. Of course, you can definitely expect some of this behavior, as we were not expecting any visitors.
When I opened the door, my neighbors wife was cowering behind her husband. She was deathly afraid of these two monstrous beasts. I couldn’t understand why. They were behind a secure door, and she was protected by her husband, and me. Still, it was as if she had never seen a medium-size dog like a Labrador Retriever, or any other dog before in her life.
It must be terrible to have a fear like this, I thought to myself watching her squirm, and cling to her husband. I didn’t even try the usual, “they’re Labrador retrievers, they won’t hurt anybody, they may let you to death”. Why waste my time? There was no way I was going to cure her of this fear on my front porch.
It did make me wonder though. How do you cure somebody of a fear like this? It scares me having a neighbor, so afraid of dogs. My neighborhood seems to be overrun with rabbits, and squirrels. While I can’t imagine my labradorsNot following my commands, and chasing after them. It is definitely possible, predictable, even probable, and potentially, a huge predicament.
In my nightmare I drive into the garage, from a local trip to the grocery store. Chase my 8 month old 68 pound Labrador retriever, knocks down my not so much heavier wife, carrying a bag of groceries. As she falls to the ground, and the soy milk, and organic food fly out of the paper, not plastic, into the air, And just about the time my wife reaches out to grab the tofu, my 4-year-old 76 pound lab comes chasing after the same rabbit, and completes the perfect storm by knocking her back down.
Meanwhile, across the yard, there’s a very nice lady, with a fear of dogs, that’s also unloading groceries. As she turns with both hands full, carrying three bags of groceries, she deftly swings her hips, and nudges the door closed when her SUV, and is proud of herself for not jumping through the air, as the rabbit crosses her path. In fact she’s proud of the fact that she wasn’t afraid of the rabbit. Just as a smile starts to come across her face she sees two, as far as she’s concerned nuclear missiles headed straight for her.
Of course I’m right behind the nuclear missiles, screaming, “it’s okay, they’re Labrador retrievers, they won’t bite”. just what she wanted to hear, as she tuck and rolls, into her house.
Although this sounds amusing, my neighbor won’t think it’s amusing, in fact she will be terrified, and scarred, and that is something, I do not look forward to.
I am not concerned about them “attacking” her, or anything like that. I don’t want to be responsible for awaking the fear that she feels when she sees my dogs. If you own a Labrador retriever, you know that they have an “overly friendly manner”. Their tails have cleared more tables than most busboys!
So my question is… How do you cure somebody that has a very deep rooted fear like this?
We are going to address this in a series of articles over the next few weeks.