By Shannon Matloob, Senior writer, 17, Beverly Hills HS
Print This Post
Shannon will try to become more tolerant of dogs once dogowners become more tolerant of things they dislike.

When my friends hear that I don’t like dogs, they don’t believe me. “How could you not like dogs?” I can’t reply to that question because I don’t know. I can’t trace this fear back to a traumatic childhood experience. I’ve never had a hoard of over-sized dogs attack me and rip off my limbs or anything close to that. I also can’t say this terror is related to the movie Cujo because I never saw it. I don’t know why. I’m sorry; I just don’t like them.

But more than I dislike dogs, I hate people who try to get me to fall in love with dogs. There have been countless times when family or friends claimed that “Fluffy-wuffy-poo-poo” is the “sweetest dog ever” and “wouldn’t hurt a fly.” One time when I was sick, my mother took me to my grandmother’s house. Grandma was dog-sitting her friend’s dog that day. The dog was very small, probably as long as a laptop. I’m not familiar with the breed because I couldn’t care less, but it was light brown and slightly shaggy.

“My friend spent $2,000 to train this dog and now she’s a perfect angel,” she said.

“Money well spent,” I sarcastically replied under my breath as I observed the barking dog frantically trying to get out of Grandma’s grip. As I was sitting on the couch, I noticed Grandma coming near me with the dog.

“Come on, just pet her head. Just once. She’s really nice, I promise. She doesn’t even bite; look at her teeth.” Grandma opened the dog’s mouth and I saw small, yet sharp teeth. The dog bit Grandma a few times, but “it didn’t even hurt.”

Dogs aren’t even soft to touch

As Grandma attempted to coax me into touching the dog’s forehead, I sent telepathic cries of help to my mother, who was at work. “Rescue me! I’m dying here! If you really love me, you’ll hear this.” After a few minutes of staring at the dog I finally got my index finger ready to touch the dog on her back.

“No, not like that,” Grandma said. My hand got closer to the dog and the dog’s head twisted to get a nice view of my hand. I was afraid it would bite me. I don’t care if the bite “didn’t hurt” my grandmother’s varicose-veined fingers. I didn’t want the snarling dog’s slobber all over my hands. I slightly poked the dog in her back and I felt bones and then pulled away. All those people I had seen caressing their dogs had given me false hopes that all dogs were soft. It probably would have been easier if my hand wasn’t shaking from anxiety and the brat wasn’t barking incessantly. “Now that wasn’t so bad,” Grandma said.

Illustration by Adonia Tan, 18, Walnut HS (2007 graduate currently attending UC-Merced)

A second instance of torture occurred at my friend Amanda’s house. Amanda had a large dog with really short hair. Being the good friend she was, she understandingly acknowledged my contempt toward dogs. But one time she and her brother wouldn’t stop trying to persuade me to pet her dog’s forehead. Now petting a small “trained” dog is something I’ll do with a lot of convincing. Touching this monster (OK, fine he wasn’t a monster but whatever) was absolutely out of the question. He was half my size just being on all fours, he licked like no other, and he could jump over the sofa! Not only did I leave the house immediately after they tried (and failed) to get me to touch it, but I also didn’t go to her house for weeks, which was something major considering that I went to Amanda’s house practically every day. Although I did forgive her (eventually) I still can’t figure out why after years of friendship she decided to try to get me to like her dog.

My best friend Cloe recently got a dog, who I will admit is rather cute. Unfortunately, she’s still a dog and I’m not a fan. We were planning a picnic and Cloe said, “Yay and we can play with my little doggie!”

When I heard this I was in shock. “Where are you from? How long have you known me? You know I hate dogs.” I couldn’t believe that my best friend was considering bringing her dog to a picnic. She’s fully aware that I hate dogs. I even told her about this article and she sympathized. Yet, she was still proposing that we play with Sofi.

“No, it’s OK. She’s just a baby. She doesn’t bite or move or do anything. I promise if she comes near you I’ll take her home.”

I knew that Cloe hates eggplant, so I said, “OK, Cloe. I’ll go near your dog if you eat an eggplant.” I received the expected reaction of, “Noooo. That’s not fair. Whyyyyyyy?” I decided not to go to the picnic to avoid any bitterness.

In my psychology class, I learned that desensitization is one way to overcome a fear. In desensitization a fearful person gets over the fear step-by-step. I tried it once. The dog’s name was William. He was trained and mildly adorable—he looked a bit like Snoopy. My friend Jennifer (the dog-owner’s niece) took me through the dog-liking process step-by-step. She kept him on her lap, then I touched him, and after half an hour I started to high-five him and pretend to high-five him but pull away before his paw reached my hand. So I let him sit on my lap, and we both saw I hadn’t broken out into a rash or disintegrated like Voldemort when Harry Potter touched his face.

But he blew his chance when he licked me. My hand was cold and wet and I was disgusted.

Newsflash: I don’t want to pet your dog. It’s nothing personal. I don’t force people who dislike mayonnaise to shove a spoonful in their mouths and I don’t set a dead spider on my sister’s hand to rid her of her fear of them either. I don’t understand why people just can’t accept the fact that I will never love their dogs. Ever.

Other stories by this writer:

Summer job search woes. As a minor who won’t work at a grocery store or restaurant, Shannon, 16, has found getting a summer job (and extra cash) especially difficult this summer. (Summer update 2007)

Movies in my mailbox. With Netflix—the mail-order movie rental service—Shannon can see all the films she wants. (Nov. 2006)

It’s just not that funny anymore. Shannon could really live without her classmates’ constant interruptions. (Oct. 2006.)