This week I was talking to mum about a specific incident from my childhood which made me remember how much of a daily issue my dog phobia used to be.
It's less of an issue now because my phobia is less acute partly because we have better leash laws in Australia than we did in the '70's and 80's so one doesn't get chased by random dogs the way one did then.
Anyway, on this particular afternoon I arrived home to see a fire truck at the end of our driveway. The house was set back from the road at the end of a long drive that was shaded by an avenue of trees. You really couldn't see the house from the street so all I could see was a fire truck. I knew my mother an sister were home so you can imagine I was a little bit panicked. (They were fine it was just a fuse box that caught fire!)
As we reflected on the events of that afternoon my mum said she had run up the drive several times to head me off, so I wouldn't be worried but I took forever to get home from the station. That we concluded was because I was probably bailed up by a dog and sitting on the bonnet of a car until the dog went away....just like Allegra in Mr Right and Other Mongrels.
That happened to me an awful lot. There were two routes home from the station. One had two dogs and one had one but the one dog was more vicious than either of the other two but statistics were against you if you took that path. My sister and I deliberated the route often. If I was alone I ran the gauntlet without support.
You can see how a phobia can escalate under those circumstances can't you? (If you were scared of snakes and had to face them every day I'm not sure you'd just get over it either!)
I had coffee with an old school friend of mine who always had dogs and we were discussing this. Sometimes you think you're memory is exaggerated but she was able to reassure me that my phobia was as bad as I remember and that I regularly had a panic attack when her dog met me at their front door (good times).
My dog phobia was pretty crippling by my twenties. When I met my husband I would only picnic in two places in Sydney because they were dog free - on a sandy beach or in a National Park.
Luckily for me improved leash laws mean I no longer get chased down suburban streets and I can move about more freely.
If you'd like to read about how Allegra deals with a similar phobia in Mr Right and Other Mongrels it is free right now