Even though many of us now use iNaturalist, this was not always the case. People may or may not have interacted with numerous organisms in less than cordial manner, either with the organism mis-behaving toward you, or the other way around. For me, I am absolutely terrified of dogs. Why? Come sit by the proverbial campfire…
When I was younger, I liked to do gardening. I would still like to do gardening, but there is not much space in the apartment where I currently live. Anyway, I believe it was during my first, or was it the second, year of college when my family lived in Illinois. The backyard of the house was impressively large. There were Pear, Peach, and Chestnut Trees in the back along the fence. Around the sides and the back of the house, there were bushes and small pointed trees of Arbor Vitae. To the right side of the garage, and right before the backyard patio, there was a small area demarcated with a square stone path. It was here, in this small area, where I gardened. My father also like gardening, but he was too busy with this job to do any of it.
One fine morning, on a sunny day during the weekends, I was watering the garden as always. The San Marzano Tomato Plants were growing like gangbusters; their secondary branches were going all over the place in such a way that I had to use all of the plant scaffolds just to hold the branches up. There was also various Capsicum plants, Cilantro, Poblano, and Zucchini plants. We had just received a special variety of Mint from one of my Mother’s Uncle’s Wife - “Tall Nanu” - and that was also planted; it was not doing well. Perhaps it was a portend of what was to come.
All I heard was the gushing sound of water coming out from the garden hose. After a good and healthy man-made rainfall, I usually turn off the water spout. I turned it counter-clockwise to turn off of the water, and then proceeded to get rid of any pesky weeds. Since there is a small fence made with mesh, I have to go onto the stone path to go around the small garden. From this side, I was able to see part of the neighborhood in-between the houses. And it was here that the white dog of “doom” was seen.
Now to be clear, dogs were found all over the neighborhood. I never understood America’s obsession with pets. Perhaps, indirectly, due to the obsession partially created by the pet industry to make people think pets are like “family”, it led to the mistake of the French Poodles’ owner carelessly letting it wander outside without a leash. Even before it started to run toward me, from my gander at it, it was a big dog. Unfortunately, I would have the opportunity to see it close-and-personal. As soon as I saw that the dog was already on my family’s front lawn, I felt dread. I saw gnarly and pointed teeth. I heard it growling. And I ran screaming.
Was it a mistake to run? Probably. Even if I did not, would I have been still scared for my life? Definitely. I ran as fast as I could, but as anyone who has animals knows, humans are utterly pathetic compared to other animals in terms of raw speed and strength. I remember running completely around the house at least once. I remember feeling the dog’s breath on my back. It felt so close that I it could have bitten me. I was fortunate to be able to make into the garage and close the door. This sound seemed to stop the dog in its tracks.
With my heart racing and my legs shaking, I felt like I wanted to cry. I thought for sure that I was going to be bitten, maimed, or worse, dead. I remember hiding behind my dad as he opened the garage door. It was here that we truly saw the size of the French Poodle; it was at least three feet tall. My father was ballistic. If my father had a gun, he would have absolutely shot that dog in the face.
To this day, I vaguely remember the rest of the experience. It is still a bit fuzzy, probably from the trauma. I think there was a altercation between my father and the neighbor, but I am not sure. I never, ever, want to go near any dog again. I do not care how cute or small it looks like. Animals, like people, are vicious creatures if provoked. I still get jump scares when I look at pictures of dogs; I nearly felt like running after encountering a wolf in my Minecraft world.