The Student News Site of Trinity University


The Student News Site of Trinity University


The Student News Site of Trinity University


I get that you love your dog — but don’t let it jump on me


I’ve had a phobia of dogs for as long as I can remember. No, I don’t have a specific trauma related to a dog attacking me or anything, which I feel like I should explain based on the number of times I’ve been asked. It just stems from generalized anxiety; animals are really unpredictable. The reason, though, that my dog phobia has developed in a way that phobias of any other animals haven’t is because a lot of people expect that everyone around them is comfortable with getting up close and personal with dogs.

Something that’s easy to notice when your brain can’t help but flag every dog in your vicinity is that we live in a rather dog-centric society. Two-thirds of American households own a pet, and the most common pet to have is a dog. With those stats, it’s no wonder that I’ve found this expectation that everyone must love dogs. And because everyone loves dogs, everyone must be totally okay with any strange dog sniffing them or jumping on them.

I’m not trying to say that every dog owner is an unconscientious asshole who will let their dog do whatever. That would not be true to my experience, in which many friends of mine have unhesitatingly complied with my request to put their dog away when I come over or happily jumped in between me and a dog walking down the street. I take issue with the fact that, because of the way American society views dogs, the onus is always on me to communicate my discomfort or to ask that a dog be kept away from me.

Now, I like dogs. I think they’re cute. I understand why people love them so much and want them to have so much free rein. At the same time, I wish more people could understand why I don’t like being approached by unfamiliar animals. I wish I didn’t have to listen to all the questions about whether I experienced a trauma or the insistence that “you’d like my dog” almost every single time I tell someone about my fear.

And I have to believe that there are people beyond my fellow dog-phobes that experience the frustration of living in a dog-centric society (like people with allergies, for one). No one would bat an eye if I said that I didn’t want random strangers to come up to me and touch me and yell at me, but that’s just par for the course with dogs.

I’m not saying that no one should bring their dogs out in public ever, but it would be nice to see more of an acknowledgment from people that there are others out there who might not want a dog to get close to them. I’d definitely like to see this more at Trinity, at least, because I have seen little such acknowledgment from the university or from the many people who bring their dogs to campus.

For one, when I studied abroad I had only one major request when I filled out my housing form — that I didn’t want to live with a dog. I was then incredibly frustrated to find that I was paired with a host mom that had a dog when almost no other host families had one. I got really lucky that the dog was very well-trained and calm to the point where I eventually relaxed around the dog, but that didn’t change the fact that I felt ignored and that I dealt with weeks of stress before (and still some after) meeting the dog.

On a more daily basis, it’s not uncommon for members of the Trinity community or others who walk on campus to bring their dog. And more than just a few times, I’ve seen dogs that are unleashed, which prompts my phobia to make me find roundabout ways to avoid crossing their paths.

All I really ask is that, if you’re not in a dog park or a private space, keep your dog on a leash. And if I tell you I’m scared of dogs, don’t act like it’s the most shocking thing you’ve ever heard.

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About the Contributor
Sarah Fisher
Sarah Fisher, Editor-in-Chief
Hello! My name is Sarah, and I'm a senior from Nashville, TN majoring in communication and Spanish with a minor in history. I've been with the Trinitonian since my first semester at Trinity, and I am so excited to serve as the Editor-in-Chief this year. In what little time I have outside of the newspaper, I'm the president of Trinity Mock Trial and a member of the film club.
I can't wait to see what our staff accomplishes this year and for everyone to see their work as well!

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