Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Monday, May 13, 2013

Dogs Are The Best Medicine!

I don't know if you've ever noticed this about me, but I really love dogs.

Something weird about me is, I didn't always love dogs. I was actually scared of dogs up until I was about 8 years old. I'm not really sure why, but this is as much as I can remember... When I was little I had very sensitive ears, and I hated any loud noises. I couldn't stand airplanes going overhead, firetrucks or ambulances going by, fireworks, loud music, etc. I would scream and cry and cover my ears because it hurt!

I didn't know many people who had dogs. The first dog I was ever exposed to was probably my Grandma's Boston Terrier, Terry. She barked a lot! The barking was loud! So I would scream and cry and cover my ears! That would just make the problem worse. Any time I was around a dog who barked a lot, this was what happened. A lot of times, people would say something like, "It's okay, he won't bite." So, not only were these furry creatures painful to my ears, but they could also potentially bite me? As I got older, this turned into a real fear of dogs, not just of their barking.

My fear of dogs was made worse by hearing stories of people getting bitten or chased by dogs. One day while I was at school, my mom was taking my little brother for a walk around the neighborhood. We lived in kind of a weird neighborhood and people didn't necessary have sweet, gentle pet dogs. A large black lab jumped over a fence and started to go after my mom and brother. My mom picked up my brother and ran to someone's front porch for safety. She used to tell this story all the time, so I started to live in fear that a large dog would chase me down the street and possibly bite me. I also saw a snippet of a movie where a dog with rabies took a very large chunk out of a girl's arm. I thought that was what every dog bite would be like.

The weird thing is, if I was around dogs who were quiet and not barking, I was fine. I remember when I was around six or seven, a neighbor's dog had puppies, and we went to see them. I was sitting on the driveway playing with the puppies, and one crawled into my lap and fell asleep. I sat there forever petting the sleeping puppy, long after the other kids lost interest and went off to play!

When I was about nine, we spontaneously got a dog. My dad, for some reason, had stopped at a local shelter on his way home from work, and he'd fallen in love with a sweet, shy black and white puppy. He came home and convinced my mom that we needed to go get that dog. She had been abused, and she was terribly shy. We had to sit on the floor and be really quiet in order for her to come near enough for us to pet her! For a while even after we adopted her, she was so shy, she had to be coaxed to come near us. Even after she grew to love us, she still had memories of being abused. She was afraid of strangers, and when visitors came to our house, our dog would hide under the couch and bark! She would especially growl and bark at men with glasses, leading us to think that this was what the person who had abused her looked like. Taking care of this helpless puppy who had been hurt by someone, helped me to get over my fear of dogs. Within a year, I completely loved dogs and wanted to be near them whenever possible! I even loved my neighbor's rottweilers!
Our first puppy, Zip, was best friends with our parakeet! 

I have been a dog lover ever since then, and my love for dogs has only grown! (I do love cats, too... all animals really, to be fair... but I have always had more dogs in my life than cats.) Besides having my own two dogs, I volunteer at an animal rescue organization. On Saturdays I walk around the pet store with a dog, trying to find people interested in adopting him or her. It is my favorite day of the week, because I can spend time with lots of dogs and with people who love dogs as much as I do. 

You know how I've mentioned before that I have trouble talking to new people and being in social situations? If you ever meet me for the first time, and you want to talk to me, the best way to make me feel comfortable is to talk about dogs. I can talk, and listen,  forever about dogs! I love to hear about the dogs people have, how they got them, stories about them, etc. When some people tell me that they don't really like dogs, I feel a little weird around them. 

This is Squeaker, aka "Gringo" (yeah, kind of embarrassing name) is an 8 month old puppy who was found as a stray. 

This is Squeaker's friend, Strawberry Shortcake. She was also found as a stray. We discovered that someone had her "debarked!" She can't bark any more... she just opens and closes her mouth, but nothing comes out! 

This is Napa, a sweet pitbull puppy who came through the animal rescue organization where I volunteer. (She was quickly adopted.) She had been taken out of an apartment in the city. Her former "owners" had beaten her, starved her, and burned her with cigarettes. You can see that little dent on her head is one of the bigger scars left over from cigarette burns. You can see under her pink sweater how bony she was at that time, from not being fed. All she wanted to do was cuddle and be loved! 

I don't exactly know what the point of this post is, except to tell you one of the biggest and most important things about me... I really love and care about dogs. A lot of people with Aspergers have an "obsession," something they think about and talk about a whole lot. I guess dogs are my obsession! 

1 comment :

  1. It's always interesting to me that people project their OWN fear of things onto others who don't have those fears - yet - and then create those fears. I've always found (especially with my own ASD kid) that it's better to ask questions than to make assumptions and statements. So glad you got over your fear of dogs though, as they are amazing creatures!


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