They say you’re either a dog person or a cat person. I’m neither. So then, I thought, maybe I’m a reptile person? But after a traumatic trip to a reptile shop, that was filled with boxes containing live insects for snake-food, I decided that I am not a reptile (or insect) person. Then I thought, maybe I’m a bird person? This was before I remembered my trip to World of Birds in South Africa, where my primary memories involved lots of cowering and my friend getting bitten on the ankle by a bird I couldn’t even name. Definitely not a bird person.
Eventually I concluded that I am not an animal person in general.
Everyone thinks I should be, simply because my degree was in Environmental Science. But what people don’t realise was that I spent three years studying the mysteries of soil and poo, rather than anything to do with animals. And I do like animals. Just from a distance. Or in a David Attenborough documentary. I don’t, however, like the idea of an animal wandering through my house, and never knowing when it’s going to poop or bark or jump up. It’s the unpredictability of animals that makes me most nervous. I can’t read animals like I can read people.
It always irritates me when people say, ‘Oh, my dog wouldn’t hurt a fly. There’s no need to be scared of him.’ But if you can argue that all dogs have different personalities, then surely there must be some bastard dogs like there are some bastard people? I don’t believe that all pets can be worthy of sainthood.
I’m not obtuse. I do understand why people have pets; they’re cuddly, cute, loyal and good companions. Some people regard their pet as their best friend. I know people who would give their pets their own bedroom and chair in the dining room if they could.
It’s hard to tell where my phobia stems from; perhaps it was from the time a neighbourhood pug dog snuffled me in a particularly violent manner. But the more likely reason is probably something to do with my generally anxious personality.
People say that to get over your fear you should face it head-on. So I’ve thought of a few future ventures I could try out to help me overcome my fear.
- Become a judge at Crufts.
- Try shark-cage diving.
- Join the circus and train to be a lion-tamer.
- Get a job feeding large aquatic animals at the zoo (need to learn to swim underwater first).
- Develop a magic act that involves hiding rodents in my costume.
I feel like a couple of these might be unfeasible, but it’s only a rough list. I will hopefully be fear-free of animals at some point in the future. It might just take a few years to reach that point.