We were greeted by a small tabby cat. The kitchen was old and well used. In rushed Bronson attacking me with Love. His tail was wagging excitedly, so I knew I was o.k. For a good part of my life, I have been frightened by dogs. (Did I mention Bronson is a black Labrador Retriever?)
When I was very little, maybe five, I told my mother that I wanted to marry our dog, Flip. Flip was a mutt. He must have had some Lab in him. He looked a lot like my yellow Lab, Grace. Flip also had the Lab temperament; he loved to jump up on the kids in the neighborhood – getting him sent off to the pound more than once. In fact, too often for my mother who was the one who had to retrieve him. It was costing too much; she had to pay cash out of her meager household funds to get him back. And she had a lot of human kids to feed. One day, Flip was gone. My mother said she gave him to a man with a farm and that Flip would be happier there. I cried and cried. Recently, I heard that “sending a dog to a farm ” is a parent’s euphemism for euthanizing the family dog! I really hope Mom didn’t do that. In fact, I can’t believe Mary C. would do that. She loved Flip almost as much as I did. (Flashback to the earlier scene…before Flip got sent away)… after I told Mom my plan to marry Flip, she asked me, “But, dear, how will you get him down the aisle?” Five year old me responded quite logically, “I’ll carry him”. “And what will you feed him?” – my practical mother asked. Taking my tootsie-roll lollipop out of my mouth, I gave Flip a lick, and that answered that question!
So what happened to cause me to be frightened of dogs? Shortly, after Flip was sent away, my sister, Pat, and I were walking down a street in our Queens, New York neighborhood. I called to a local dog who had always been friendly before; he ran up to me as usual; I went to pet him as usual, and he nipped me! Maybe he was a she in heat! Who knows? All my young self knew was that when it comes to dogs, life is unpredictable. And that scared me – for a long time.
Now I am 65. I live in a lovely country cottage. I have 2 beautiful Labrador Retrievers: Choco and Grace. And I am about to have Grace mated with Bronson. Am I crazy or what?