“Beware of Dog.” Several fences in my neighborhood warn me of the fearsome canines that reside within their walls of wood or steel. They don’t have to tell me twice.
Each day as I take my morning walk, I am constantly “being aware” of dogs that may have escaped their domain in order to run free. The signs on the fences further reinforce my fear of dogs to whom I have not been formally introduced. And the barking — some high voices, some low — never ceases to greet me as I pass by. Sometimes I hear a low, menacing growl behind one of the fences. I hope I never see that animal face to face.
I see a man walking three dogs. Are they all reined in? Yes, thank goodness. (I have never actually heard of anyone being mauled by a Yorkie on a stretchy leash, but one cannot be too careful.)
This fear of dogs — I try to remember its origins. Once, as a child, I dreamed that a huge monster-dog was smashing cars and their occupants out on some country road on the outskirts of town. And I remember the terror I felt while riding my bike when a mid-size dog rushed toward me, baring his teeth, barking and nipping at my ankles. I pedaled as fast as I could, but he was a track star, keeping up nicely. I barely escaped unscathed.
That reminds me of Ms. Gulch, Dorothy’s mean neighbor. Toto had actually bitten her. (Had the incident occurred while she was on her bike? I don’t remember.) At any rate, perhaps her mean-spiritedness was due to fear. (Perhaps all witches have secret fears.) In my estimation, she was pretty brave to reach down and snatch him up and stuff him in that basket. (I am happy he escaped; he did not deserve the fate she had in store for him.) I’m just sayin’ — I can identify.
One day while weeding around my Rose of Sharon in my own back yard, I suddenly became aware of a “presence” in very close proximity. On my knees beside the so-called flower bed, I turned around to see who or what had intruded on my solitude and came nose to nose with a big black shiny Lab face with the tongue hanging out. One of those little electric shocks jolted my heart into my throat. He was obviously looking for friendship, not a meal, so I relaxed a bit as I made my way up the steps to the deck. He milled around a little and then found the open gate where he had entered. As soon as he was gone, I closed it again to prevent further canine intrusion.
Back to Toto . . . you gotta admit, he did create havoc every time he jumped out of Dorothy’s arms and ran amuck. I know . . . I know . . . if Toto had not gotten loose, the story would not have had the happy ending that it did. Okay, I concede that sometimes a loose dog can be helpful — like Lassie!
I am working to overcome my irrational fear. The other morning, I saw a large dog walking alone about a block ahead. What to do? Turn back? Walk on in the hope that he would not be vicious? I summoned my courage and continued walking. I noticed a car going more slowly than most. Dare I hope? Could they be the owners out looking for their escapee? Yes! They got him. A reprieve.
The cowardly lion said that having courage does not mean that you don’t feel afraid. Courage, according to him, just means doing what you have to do in spite of the fear.
St. Paul admonished Timothy that God did not give us a spirit of fear but rather a spirit of power, love and self-discipline.
I’m working on it. In the meantime, I have to go to Walmart. We are out of cat food.