Saturday, August 25, 2012

Poem: When I was afraid of dogs

When I was little, I was afraid of dogs. I would run from them, afraid that they would jump up on me and scratch my legs.
It’s funny for two reasons to think of running from them.
I love animals now. I don’t have any dogs of my own, but I enjoy being around them and don’t fear them.
It’s also funny because of what I eventually taught myself as a child: don’t run from animals. This came from my father’s lesson to not run from the cows, which I wrote about in a previous post.
So for a while, I ran from our pet dogs, which were outside dogs. My parents didn’t allow us to have animals inside.
Ironically, as soon as I was “safe” inside, I started feeling sorry for the dogs because I thought they looked sad at having to stay outside, with no one to play with.
I would talk to them through the back screen door, tell them they were pretty and good. And yet when I was outside with them, all I would do is run from them.
Poor critters.
The poem below grew out of my memories of one dog in particular, Prince.

Prince
By Tina Fariss Barbour

I was afraid of my dog
when I was seven.
Climbed atop porch chairs,
railings,
mimosa branches,
ran shortcut across the grass.
Then inside I stood
at the back screen door,
rampart,
watched Prince
hang his Collie head,
fall sideways.
Good boy.
Sweetie boy.
Supper’s soon.
I sang hymns.
Standing on the Promises.

  Did you have dogs or other pets as a child? What was your relationship with your pets like?

18 comments:

  1. Love your poem..could just picture you crouching at the screen door.
    We had a dog for a brief time (3-4 months?)growing up, it was a black Lab named, "Sam." We lived in the city but we had a yard, however, he was a big dog and it wasn't long before my parents decided he was too big for us or the house? We took him with us fishing once and he cut his paw really bad when he went in the river for a swim, I held him with a cloth around his paw till we could get him to a vet. I don't know why, but that is such a vivid image to me and I think of that every so often. Anyway, my parents gave the Lab to a farmer where he could run and be happier than with us, they said. We came home from church one day and there was Sam on our porch. He'd run away and found his way all the way from that farm back to us. I thought that mean't that he liked it with us better. My parents were touched that he came back, but they called the farmer to say he was at our house and the guy came back for him. Imagine what a day that was for us kids. I think that love and loss as a child made me not want animals for a long time..but eventually wee let a dog, Zoe Rose, into our life and she was a real blessing to our family.

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    1. Krystal Lynn, I can understand how losing your Lab twice would be hard on you. I'm glad you were able to enjoy having your Zoe Rose years later.

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  2. This is great, Tina! I had a fabulous brown poodle-y mutt of a dog when I was a young girl. Loved him to pieces Unfortunately when my family fell apart when I was eleven or twelve we had to get rid of him. It was devastating, but I still have the best memories of that crazy dog. Now we have a large puppy version of my childhood dog. It's fun to see my daughter connecting with him like I did with my childhood dog.

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    1. Becky, I'm sorry you lost your dog, but I'm glad you are able to keep the good memories. And now you can make new memories with your family and puppy.

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  3. Wonderful poem! I remember having a dog for a bit as a child and then one day I came home from school and it was dead. All I remember is crying and not wanting to leave my parents bedroom. I recently lost my dog, and still can't believe it. The relationship was like something I have never experienced with any human, not even close. You don't know love until you've loved a dog.

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    1. Yaya, I'm so sorry about the loss of your dog--that must be so hard. I can relate to that. I lost my beloved cat 10 months ago, and it seems like yesterday.

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  4. Aw, sweet poem!

    I had a Siamese cat named Gigi (we're french). She was absolutely beautiful, but what a brat! ha ha ha

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    1. Thank you, Sunny. Was Gigi a brat because she was spoiled? It wouldn't be the first cat that was spoiled--ours are rotten! :-)

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  5. Love your poem! You are so talented!

    I am just now learning that I needn't run from dogs! In fact, a few weeks ago, I actually pet my niece and nephew's dog and my niece said: "Look at you! You're petting Heidi!"

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. That's great that you were able to pet your niece and nephew's dog. That's a big help in not being afraid of dogs.

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  6. Dogs, I love them. But I was attacked by a bull dog a few years back, leaving me with 50% use of my left arm for quite a while... Although I am "recovered" now and have dogs, I am terrified of large, barking dogs. But at the same time see their beauty. Strange how fear does that to us with so many things.♥

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    1. Shannon, I'm so sorry about the dog attack. That must have been terrifying. I know what you mean about the strangeness of fears, of being able to recognize the beauty of what we may be afraid of.

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  7. What a lovely poem Tina!
    I got a tiny little kitten for my 6th birthday, Poemie, and we have had cats ever since. And I loved every one of them. In Africa at one point we even had 7, and the two I still had when we went back to Holland we took with us. One of them is still with us, a 14 years old Lady now!

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    1. Ah, I'm a cat lover, too, Klaaske. My kitties are so special to me. We had four at one time, but we have lost two.

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  8. I love your poem. I can just picture your collie, head cocked to one side, listening, wagging its tail, whining just a tiny bit, hoping you'd come out to play.

    One thing I'll say for my mother, she was good about letting us have pets. We almost always had a dog and cats. I loved them. I think they helped me keep my sanity. Thanks for the memories.

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    1. Grace, thank you! My kitties definitely help keep me centered.

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  9. I am really surprised I was never afraid of dogs. When I was about 8 or 9, I was attacked by my family's dog. I was on my hands and knees trying to get a roll of toilet paper away from him so he would not get in trouble with my Dad and his paws swiped across my face. Whomever was the plastic surgeon on duty that night at the local hospital did a wonderful job.

    My Mom was so afraid that I would be afraid of myself and the dog that she covered up all the mirrors in the house. My parents told me the dog who did that to me went to a farm. I cried more because he left.

    I love animals though.

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    1. Jen, that sounds like a frightening incident, and it's wonderful that it didn't leave you with a fear of dogs! I, too, love animals. They understand us humans in so many ways!

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