Once bitten, now shy

Once bitten, now shy
December 10, 2012 by Sara Lima

We've always been told by strangers that Cash can be an intimidating-looking dog. Being that we know him and his super sweet personality, it's hard for us to imagine, however we try to respect others by keeping him on-leash and under control while in public. I now find myself wishing that others would extend me the same courtesy. Up until now I've avoided going into the details of the incident that occured this summer that resulted in Cash getting hurt. This is mostly because I don't want to re-live that day or that moment, but I feel like in order for you to understand this post you'll need some background info, so here it goes.

Cash was attacked by the dog we fostered after Chance. This dog was bigger than Cash and caused some serious damage to his neck that required many, many stitches and a drainage tube to repair. He now has a Frankenstein-like scar that runs from his jaw to his chest. Since the attack, I have become afraid of other dogs when I'm with Roxy and Cash. If I'm alone, I have the same reaction to any dog that I've always had, sheer delight. But if I'm out with the dogs for a walk or a hike and another canine approaches us, I am immediately filled with anxiety and fear for the safety of my best buds.I realize this is irrational and even dangerous; Roxy and Cash could easily pick up on my new fear cues and begin to act out towards the approaching dog in my defense, but it's something I just can't help.

While on our weekly hike a few weeks ago, Cash and Jer made a quick pit stop to have a drink and a treat. While we stood aside of the trail, a couple approached with a large leashed dog and instantly I stood in front of Roxy (whose leash I was holding) to shield her. The man, picking up on my physical reaction, stated, "Oh don't worry, he's friendly". Before I had a chance to respond, the leashed dog went after Cash, leaving him with a scratch on his nose and shaky knees. Usually my reaction would be one of understanding, perhaps even a giggle as if to say "boys will be boys" however I angrily lashed out at the couple and told them to get lost "or else".

On our hike last weekend, a 9 month old German Shepherd puppy came bounding up to us off-leash, and the same sense of terror began to surface. The owners came shortly behind, stating that the dog had to be off-leash or she didn't get enough excerise. I totally understand this, I used to be one of those people, but not anymore. Luckily, the puppy was sweet and playful and carried on with her business down the trail, but I could tell that Cash had sensed my apprehention.

So what do I do now? Cash and Roxy have many doggie friends they've known for years including my mom's dog and my aunt's dog, however I'm too afraid to have them over anymore for fear of a fight (the attack from our foster dog occured in our backyard). Do you guys have any advice on how to overcome this so I don't pass it along to the dogs?

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