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The Black Dog


The prompt for Two Shoes Tuesday this week is "fear"...

Five-year-old Wendy waited eagerly for Fall, when at last she would be old enough to attend Kindergarten.   Finally the first week of school arrived.  Wendy's Mother drove her the first couple days to make sure she knew the way, then came the morning it was time to walk the six blocks on her own.  Wearing her new plaid dress and Buster Brown shoes, Wendy headed out the door at the appointed time, proudly waving goodbye to her Mom as she headed down the sidewalk to school.  

She had gone about half way when she heard a growl so frightening that it nearly stopped her heart.  There behind the wooden fence of a nearby house stood a huge black dog, teeth bared.  Suddenly the dog lunged at the fence, barking fiercely.  Leaping up on his back legs, his massive head rose above the fence, his eyes staring her down.  Wendy let out a scream and took off running for school, arriving out of breath and trembling with fear.

All day long she thought about that big black dog, knowing that she would have to cross his path again on the way home.  After school she moved quietly down the sidewalk, hoping maybe she could slip by the wooden fence undetected. But there he was, waiting for her.  Once again he raced to the fence, snarling and straining against the wooden pickets in an attempt to break free.  Wendy broke into a run.  Tripping on the curb as she crossed the street, she fell and skinned both knees badly, tearing her brand new dress.  Arriving at home, she burst into the house in tears.

Explaining what happened while her mother cleaned her scraped knees and applied band-aids, Wendy said she was certain the dog would at some point escape and tear her to pieces.  She didn't want to walk to school ever again, in fact even going to school didn't seem like fun now, not if she had to risk her life crossing that dog's path every day.

Wendy's mother tried to reassure her that the dog was safely fenced and would not be able to escape. She pointed out that no neighborhood children had been attacked or eaten, and said the dog was probably just trying to greet her and make friends.  Wendy wasn't buying that at all.  Wendy's mother told her that dogs can sense fear, that she needed to walk past him bravely and keep going on about her business without letting him know she was afraid.  Wendy wasn't so sure that was possible, but she agreed to give it another try.

The next morning the same scene repeated itself, the dog snarling and Wendy running, her mind filled with panic.  She didn't think she could face that big dog again, so she came up with an idea.  That afternoon Wendy took another route home, detouring around the block to avoid the house where the dog lived.  Her plan almost worked, but the new route took a little longer. 

When she didn't arrive home on time, Wendy's mother came looking for her.  Not finding her on the designated route, her mother grew worried, and when she spotted her a couple blocks away she was upset.  Wendy got a spanking for going off on her own without telling anyone.  She tried to explain, but her mom wasn't hearing any of it. "You walk the way I taught you" she ordered, "You can't just go wandering around town.  And stop worrying about that dog, he's not going to get you!"  Wendy felt very sad; it seemed that no one really understood. This was to become a common theme in her life in the years ahead.

For the next four months Wendy battled her inner fears to face that daily walk to and from school.  The dog never stopped racing to the fence, even when it grew cold and snowed, and she never grew less afraid of his eyes that seemed to glow with evil.  In her mind, and in her dreams at night, the black dog loomed larger and larger, and she just knew that one day he would tear down that fence and devour her.

It was to Wendy's great relief that her father one day announced they would be moving to a new town and a new school right after Christmas... goodbye big black dog.  Fifty some years later, Wendy can still picture that snarling face in her mind, and she has to admit that she still gives black dogs a wide berth when she walks.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
This post is linked up at Two Shoes Tuesday,
we'd love to have you join us!
 

18 comments:

  1. Curiously I found this post sad in that her mother did not continue to take her to school until her confidence grew knowing that the dog was all bluff. As I remember the last thing kids want to do is move, as their life, surroundings and friends would be lost. Perhaps her parents should have got a dog themselves. Oops! I have over analyzed this one. The writing was beautiful Josie.

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    1. Last night as I told this story, I thought about it more from my now grown-up perspective, and I too was sad and even angry that no one seemed to take my fear seriously. Perhaps the dog was only that terrifying in my eyes, but then, that was what mattered. What I learned from that, and from additional experiences growing up is that the people you love and trust won't always understand you, and won't always be there to protect you. The lesson was not lost on me. Moving to a new town was not as great as I anticipated it would be, but at that moment in my young life I would have welcomed any opportunity to get away from that dog!

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  2. Hey Josie, I really liked your post. It made me think of all the old legends and superstitions surrounding hell hounds and travellers seeing visions of black dogs before their deaths. Super creepy. Happy Halloween! Kristina

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    1. Thanks Kristina! He certainly seemed like a dog from the gates of hell to me!

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  3. I felt your terror as you faced that dog everyday Josie...wonderful write!

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    1. Thank you Len, that's what this story was about... fear and the way it impacts our lives. Fear isn't always rational, in a child's mind the situation was terrifying.

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  4. And THAT is why I'm a cat person!

    That and dogs smell.

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    1. I hear ya, Monkey, though I also know plenty of folks who fear cats because they have been attacked, scratched, or bitten. It is well known that I am also a cat person. My issue with dogs (and I have had some that I loved, both growing up and as an adult) is that they are unable to fold over in the middle like cats can! :-))

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    2. It is incredibly rare for a cat to attack unprovoked. Dogs may just be protecting their territory and that's great and yes dogs sometimes get a bad rap. But nearly every story I've ever heard of a cat attacking someone was when they went to the cat to pet it or without listening to the owner tell them to leave the cat the hell alone.

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    3. I agree Monkey, cats lash out if they feel backed into a corner or if you are invading their space. They stalk prey, not people. Some folks can't take no for an answer, then they get what they deserve.

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  5. Wendy and I share the fear of dogs, and I can identify with her.

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    1. Needless to say, this experience instilled a tremendous fear of dogs...big dogs...in me as a child. I am still wary of big dogs that jump up on me or are on the loose. Little yappy dogs just annoy me.

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  6. Okay. Perspective people. Josie, the real issue is that no one helped you with your fear, and no one trained the dog. This is why black dogs & black cats have a problem. I also want to mention that I grew up with a black dog: Velvet. She was the sweetest most well behaved dog. I miss her still. I have had and known many black dogs. It wasn't the colour of the dog that made it mean, but there were obvious issues for it...and for you. Your mother should have helped you understand. She should have also addressed the dog's owner of the potential of it getting out of its yard. Yeah, I know...just sayin'. I feel bad. Hug.

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    1. Obviously, McGuffy Ann, the issue was not because it was black, or big, or even fierce. The problem lies with the dog's owners as there was obviously something going on or lacking in it's home environment to make it behave this way. It went beyond the point of protecting it's property. The fault also lies with my mother who did little to help me resolve the situation other than telling that I was wrong to feel as I did (another common theme in my growing-up life.) I was five years old and scared to death of that dog! I don't harbor resentment against black dogs, or dogs in general for that experience, and I hope no one would be so silly as to think that black dogs, or black cats for that matter, are evil or bad. My experience is that people with narrow minds tend to catagorize things like this, and it is unlikely we will ever be able to educate or change them. It was not the dog's fault, it's was the human's. Isn't that so often true of life, with the blame being misplaced?

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  7. Hi Josie ~~ I liked reading your story. I was all ready for my ending; the little girl had some terrible event, like an attack or knock down, etc, the big black dog scaled the fence and rescued her, saving her life!

    Most dogs are very protective of the children. There might have been a work out between the parents and the owners. Running away from fear is not a real answer as the fear is never resolved. In modern terms she/you would have benefited from a closure.
    ..

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    1. I like your ending to this story much better, Jim! I wish it would have gone that way. I once lived with a family that had a beautiful German Shepherd who was indeed very protective of the children, and of me. It would indeed have been much better if my parents had worked with the dog's owners to help resolve the situation and alleviate my fears. Child psychology was not a popular notion in those days. :-)

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  8. I agree with Oldegg... not cool the way your mother discounted your fears....Some dogs are just mean and fear is a good tool.
    Now that I have read several posts I know that fear is really a survival mechanism. If you hadn't been afraid of the dog... then what?

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    1. I suppose my mother believed that if she downplayed my fears they would diminish in my eyes too, but it didn't work that way, I just felt more alone in coping with my fear. I agree that fear has it's healthy side, it can be a warning that we are in a situation that is potentially dangerous. The dog was clearly not a happy pup, for whatever reasons, and I don't think his intentions were to cheerfully lick my nose, though his bark might have been more fierce than his bite. I surely didn't want to find out!!

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