fear of dogs, or how i caught a pit bull

I know it’s not politically correct, but I don’t like pit bulls. I used to feel hideously guilty about this until I realized I also don’t like a bunch of other breeds, including some traditionally hardcore breeds like Rotts and Mastiffs, but also including some other dogs like Saint Bernards, Collies (yeah, Lassie), and Cocker Spaniels. My dogphobia springs from my years as a pizza delivery driver, where for whatever reason there were just certain breeds that seemed inclined to cause me major problems.

You might think my fear of Saint Bernards comes from Cujo, book or film, but no. My fear of Saint Bernards comes from literally having been trapped in my own car by a pair of them, who proceeded to chew my bumper and body side-molding. Better that then me, but still.

No tip, either.

I was treed on top of a company truck by a collie, and the dog that actually took a hunk out of my thigh was a collie mix.

And pit bulls?  Well I admit I just don’t like the triangular shape of their heads, which reminds me of snakes. But in my serivice area they were also they were the breed most likely to be tied to the porch rail in the dark, and to pop out snarling and nasty at the approach of the ridiculously attired person who smelled like food.

I also once screamed like a girl when a black lab charged at me.

Yesterday while discussing this, a friend said, “I don’t like dogs that bite, and that could be any of them.”

And there you have it, in a nutshell.  My personal experience has made me wary of these breeds, but I also know that (a) my own very friendly hound once bit a pizza driver (although I believe he was just trying to get pizza), and (b) not all dogs of any breed are going to behave like previous dogs of that same breed I have met.  So while I remain very wary of strange dogs, I try to remain open to them as individuals.

This is kind of how I am about people, actually.  Like, here’s an ex-con for example. I have no trust. But if I get to know him or her, I might learn to trust.

Anyway, as previously reported, I am having some serious issues with lightheadedness (CT scan and ultrasound later today) and yesterday I was crossing the school parking lot at the downtown campus like someone recently escaped from the nursing home. Not quite dizzy, but wobbly, and trying not to worry about what will happen if I start getting dizzy while I’m sitting down and thus can’t drive anymore. When I was about halfway across I heard a bunch of hollering, but it didn’t seem to concern me, so I didn’t concern myself with it, just continued wobbling along.

Finally I came to the sidewalk and stepped up onto it, near the corner of the building where I felt a little more secure, because if I needed to, I could lean on the building. Then I turned around to see what all the fuss was about.

Charging toward me was a liver and white pit bull. Behind it came three humans, one of whom was carrying a football-sized dog. The biggest one of the group was a guy and he started hollering frantically, “She’s friendly!  She’s friendly!  She don’t bite!”

Some weird calm came over me, and I thought toward the dog, “This is not a good place to be a pit bull on the lam.”

On she came. I didn’t look directly at her, but looked at the library across the street and kind of watched her out of the edges of my vision. There was just something so familiar about her expression. Something Kelly-like, although her little pointy spy-vs-spy face could hardly be more dissimilar to a blocky pb face in structure. It was not the structure, it was the expression.

And on she came.  Charged right up to me, getting it on with a full body wag, and exuberant leaping and sniffing.

“Sorry, Sister,” said I, “Your freedom has come to an end.”  And I stepped on her leash.

And then I stood there while she tested to see if she could get away, and then she maypoled me, tying my ankles together, and then she sat down good-naturedly and waited for her humans.

“She’s friendly!” the guy said again.

I agreed, but. “I’m not going to bend over her to get her leash,” I told him.  “She doesn’t know me.”

Dogs don’t really like being bent over, and…she didn’t know me.  Also, if I had bent over, I might have just kept on going, and not only would that have let the little dog escape again, but it would have been humiliating and possibly painful.

Her human retrieved her leash and thanked me profusely, and sounded–to my ears, anyhow–surprised that I was a friendly human.  Which gave me pause to consider, is that how the world is to pit bull owners?  Or is it only how they perceive the world to be? Probably a mix, if I had to guess.

So I went about my business and they went about theirs, and later I would think, “I’ve changed (at least a little).” Because years ago when that black lab charged me, my first thought was, “I’m getting mauled.” But yesterday my first thought was this macro:

Much later, I would realize what it was that reminded me also of Kelly in the expression.

It was Whee-ness.

And now when I call her Whee Kelly Doll, maybe you’ll have a little better idea how she came by that title.

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