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So I've run into a bit of a problem surrounding dogs and I'm hoping that all the lovely people here can offer guidance and maybe even tell me whether I'm over reacting or not.

Let me start by saying that I bought a house and am rooming with a friend while my mom is the landlord (just to put where I'm at in this in perspective). I just got told today by the animal shelter that she (the tenant) is trying to adopt a dog but needs my mothers permission. (The Courtesy that she forgot to tell us before the shelter did is not the issue, but rather the rest of this is.)

When I was little I was bitten twice in the face by dogs when I was around 3-5 (through no fault of my parents, or the dogs but regardless my mom feels devastated that it happened at all). Nevertheless though, I still love dogs and still work with them. I had my period of psychological 'down' time over dogs (even though I owned one) and I'm pretty sure my tics about dogs stem from the bites and my age at the time. To start with I had about 9-10 things that really bothered me and set me into a 'fight or flight mode' (flight was always my preference) and I basically took a cold turkey approach and spent every waking minuet of every waking day with dogs to work past these. I'm now down to about 1-2, but have stopped psychologically at these points.

I have no problem working with dogs who have 'baggage', I don't panic at dogs and fight the flight response, and even though my experience pales in comparison to others and my aunt who taught me about dealing with 'baggage' ridden animals I feel confident in my ability to read and react to the situation.

So when the shelter called for some reason I'm beginning to get worked up over this dog she MIGHT be allowed to adopt. My tics are pretty simple (and in my opinion justified, but if they're unreasonable please feel free to give me a virtual slap). I have always been upfront with her about what they are because she's a dog person and I've always been honest in how I feel, and made it clear that they were psychological problems for me and I was coping, but wanted her to understand.

My first tic is that I cannot stand dogs I don't know and certain dogs around my face. I literally get clammy and very flighty when they get near me (even if it's accidental. I don't go sticking my face into other dog's lol). I'm fine with my dogs, and my aunts dogs but other than that I start to get uncomfortable.

My second tic is that if a dog lunges at me in aggression (territorial, not because of my error) I tend to not have a good relationship with that dog, nor feel safe around it ever again no matter how many times I'm introduced to it or it becomes socialized with me. I have the flight response so typically I'm out of there before I know it. For instance (and maybe this is also something), the same friend was walking one of her dogs who out of the blue decided to lunge for my face aggressively. Luckily I'm pretty fast for my size and I'm pretty quick at getting out of dodge but I was also kind of shaken up over it. I guess some part of my brain is still reminiscent of when I was bit and that hit real close to home and it probably doesn't help that now the same girl wants to bring a different dog into the house that's from a shelter and could have baggage or issues that would set off one of my tics. Some dogs (and I'm not a breed racist), I absolutely DO NOT get along with and it's a mutual dislike.

To compound on this, I have a broken knee and can't move like I need to to get away and that is a big fear factor for me having something happen with this potential dog. Things like food aggression, pet aggression, and them being scared I've worked through and can deal with no problem. But it's when they either get in my face or lunge after me that I become a wreck and have to fight to keep my tics from growing. It wasn't until the incident with her walking her other dog (who is staying at her parents house) that I literally became a shaking wreck with. Even writing this my stomachs turning into knots over what could be a horrible decision on her part and result in me feeling unsafe in my own home.

I asked my mom to ask the shelter about the dog and if it had any issues like being territorial or people aggressive, or how it was with new people because of these issues I have and the fact that my so called friend knew about my quirks with dogs, knew why, and then didn't proceed to give me a heads up that she was looking for a dog. I've never said that I would dictate what dog she got - just that so long as she was rooming with me I didn't want to put her and the dog in that position and threaten everyone's safety. There's no way for me to meet the dog right now and I won't be moving up there until january or spring so I'm really nervous and just emotionally upset about this. On one hand I know I'm overreacting and I shouldn't be letting this get to me at all and that I should grow up, but on the other hand my brain is flying non stop at bad experiences and the fact that I want what's best for the dog (and people, but most importantly the dog). See the owner of the dog that bit me had the dog put to sleep soon after and I've always had this nagging guilt that's eaten away at me, I don't want that to happen with another dog (personally I could care less about the actual getting bit part, which is weird considering my tics about my face).

Oh and I did talk to someone about my tics the other day but their response disheartened me. They said that "I should just cover up my scars. Plastic surgery works wonders these days." They were convinced that my scars were part of my problem because I 'couldn't let go of my past' and shattered any confidence I had put into myself in one fell swoop, and made me feel awful for even HAVING these tics and getting shaken.

So right now do you think I'm overreacting to the potential new dog? I'm sorry if this is disjointed (and long) but I just feel the need to vent and try and ease the twists in my stomach. I honestly don't know why this is bothering me as much as it is....
 

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I don't think you're overreacting at all. I think it's downright unfair of this friend to start the ball rolling to get a dog without telling you, especially since she knows the story behind your fears. None of us are you though, so it would be difficult to advise. I can't in all honesty think it's a good idea without you meeting the dog first and being totally OK with it.
The thing that bothers me is how good a trainer your friend is if her dog lunged at you before.
 

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I completely agree with raffles that you are NOT over reacting, but there's also a difference between dogs being overexcited and lunging and dogs being aggressive and lunging. It might be worth stepping back a second to tell which it was-it might make you feel more comfortable? I don't know the situation but it helps me to rationalize things to calm down so maybe it will help you.

I would ask your roommate about how she's going to be managing this dog, where he/she is sleeping, and go to the shelter and visit with her as well (you could skype in and watch how they interact and train?). You don't have to say yes to the dog, although your roommate might dislike you for it, but your peace of mind matters too and since it's not a pre-existing dog that she's bringing with her you should have an opinion. It might be worth looking into other housing options and finding a new roommate if she's that dead-set on getting a dog.

Another option is letting her foster a dog until you get there and see how it goes after that? I'm not sure what the details would be like but I think that might be a fair compromise. At the very least it shows you're trying really hard. I would explain your tics and make sure they work on those things first, too.

Maybe talk to her about it a bit more. It's hard when you're scared to not feel panicked, but maybe it will help you with your fears to see her side too. It doesn't need to mean getting a dog, it could just mean a first step to you mastering your fear of them :)
 

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Honestly, I wouldn't agree to let her have the dog if she absolutely must rent from you. If she really wants the dog, I would suggest she moves out. While I am sympathetic to your issues, I want to point out that it would also not be fair to the dog if she had to return him or rehome him because of any incompatibilities with your tics/her having to stay there.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for all the replies! I'm glad to know that I wasn't overreacting.

Her dog that lunged at me did do it as aggression and made me doubt her training capabilities (her grandfather rehabilitates dogs and all the dogs he's done have always been great and they've never turned out.... like that....). I did talk to her a day or so ago (when she finally called), and voiced my concerns again and set my foot down. I told her if she really wanted to adopt the dog she had to have her grandfather work with it along with her. She offered to bring it down so that I don't have to go up there, and that she and him can desensitize him to cats and my dog that I might bring up. We also had her sign a contract that if the dog doesn't work out she either has to find it a new home or move out. We're gonna meet soon to go over everything in person and all get on the same page.

I really appreciate the advice!
 
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