beware of the dog

16 02 2012

Look into my eyes...

My fear of dogs comes from when I was attacked by a German Shepherd when I was a kid. As in the big scary dog. Not a Bavarian farmer. That incident has lived long in my mind. It sets my default reaction to all dogs that they will, this time or another, attack me.

Because that is what dogs do.

As a runner who likes the solitude of cross-country or woods, this pre-determined fear of canine treachery does not bode well. But my experience tells me I am right. So when I hear stories of dog attacks, it backs up my theory. No matter the hundreds of dogs I pass who do me no harm. No matter my old flame Sasha, the borrowed black labrador I used to take to Tilgate forest to run with me. Dogs like that don’t fit my prejudice, so I can ignore them.

But here comes the rub. Maybe it’s a confession. The dog attack I mentioned earlier. Did I mention it was a dream? A nightmare really, but it wasn’t real. I was a child, and I had a bad dream about my leg being bitten by an Alsatian. But it wasn’t real, although my leg did hurt.

But the fear of dog it gave me was very real. From an imaginary event. Backed up by prejudice and conjecture. 

It got me thinking. About people’s experiences of god. Their fear of him. The very real fear that he is out to get them. That he will find them out and punish them. That he might look all friendly but maybe this time, maybe the next. He will attack.

Because that is what gods do.

I would love to shatter the myth of the attack-god, to show people when their perceptions of God are created from dreams or fantasies or things they’ve heard from someone who once said that God will burn everyone who doesn’t behave themselves and sing falsetto in the choir. A sort of Dante-esque horror story of eternal punishment that some Christians get off on. Backed up by prejudice and conjecture. And, of course, fear. 

The myths we carry in our minds about God can be so dangerous because they block us from experiencing the real thing. Like a fear of dogs that forever blocks us from relaxing in the presence of the friendliest of canines, the misplaced fear of God can forever block us from relaxing in the presence of God.

Who, as CS Lewis famously said of Aslan (not a dog), is of course not safe. But he is good.

I can't believe I have used this cliche. But it seemed to fit.




7 responses

16 02 2012
Dee Gee

I came to the Lord in my mid-twenties, and twenty years later I still carry around some unhealthy God ‘myths’. These can be extremely debilitating, despite ‘progress’ in other areas.
Such myths are not necessarily easily removed, in my experience. Any advice?

16 02 2012

They are not easily removed, really only through prayer and through re-learning, or re-teaching yourself. I had a conversation with a friend who does something a bit like CBT but simpler, a kind of life-coach person, who help[ed me with my fear of dogs simply in a conversation over dinner by encouraging me to change my thoughts about what might happen if I see a dog approaching. And it really worked. With our thinking about God, sometimes we need to catch ourselves and re-train our brains. Maybe…?!

16 02 2012

Some strange coincidences here. I used to do lots of running, I was twice bitten by dogs when doing so. One was actually in Germany, when I lived there. I still don’t have a fear of dogs, but know that most bad dogs, have bad owners. The case of a dog just turning on someone are quite rare.

The dream bit is important. I’ve had loads of dreams, most I can’t remember, but others stay with me vividly. Most of these have been about God in one shape or another, but not the God of Vengeance from the Old Testament, but the God of Love that I’ve come to know in my heart and soul in the past few years.

Dreams can be ‘God experiences’ and can be either comforting or uncomfortable, if you’ve erred or strayed or been tempted to ignore God’s word and commandments in your life. I find it encouraging that God can come to me in this way, when I’m probably at my most vulnerable to give me a sign or word that stays in my mind. And I wake up with it, long after the dream has gone.

I’ve been told that I have an overactive imagination, others have said that it’s a gift, I tend to agree with the latter. Before I accepted Jesus Christ into my life, I never remembered dreams, so, the gift of remembered dreams is positive and something to be open about, no matter how sceptical others are.

If you hear that I’ve been taken away by the men in white coats, you’ll know that I’ve been dreaming in the wrong place.

16 02 2012
Hannah A

I have a big fear of dog and have been attacked by German Shepherds TWICE as a child! I haven’t ever connected any fear of God with the same thing but I did have a conversation a few months ago along the same lines as your blog above.

It is also fair to say that some people also don’t fear God enough – just to chuck another random thought in there!

18 02 2012

I used to be scared of dogs, but increasing exposure to them as an adult has helped me to be less wary of them. But it’s still wise to be wary of strange dogs until you know whether they are safe. Or you might get bitten.
I am still scared of cows and suspect I always will be. I don’t know where this fear came from, but it feels real. And I know that three people a year are killed by cows in the UK, and it is still only February, so I won’t be walking through any fields with cows in for the next few months if I can help it.
I don’t think I’ve ever been wary or afraid of God. If He doesn’t exist, then what is there to fear? And if He does exist, then being wary seems less appropriate than being curious. So I’m curious.
I never used to be scared of Christians, either. But I am wary of some of them nowadays, and really worried about some of the others. Why should that be?
The more I come to know about God, the more I am convinced that He is a god of grace. And I believe that He loves us and is proud of us and has no doubts about how precious each one of us is.
So I am wary whenever I sense Christians are more interested in judgementalism and fear-mongering than they are about empathising and encouraging people that God truly loves them just as they are. Whoever they are. Whatever they are. However they are.
And I am especially scared when the people of religion seem to be interested in power. Religion should never be trusted with power. Jesus laid His power down. Why would any of His followers think it is appropriate for them to be seeking power?
I love your blog because I find grace and compassion and optimism in it. Although I really read it for the jokes. And my own powerful contributions, of course…

19 02 2012

Thank you mr edge. You’ll be pleased to know that i only write it so that you reply with something witty, or wise, or both. I am your muse, you are my musing.

31 10 2014

Hi Kevin,

I’m contacting you from Maverick Television. We are currently making a series on Sky 1 about Fears and Phobia’s.

I’m contacting you because I have come across your cynophobia blog and thought that you may be interested in being one of our 10 contributors. We have already filmed the heights and birds episodes. The group therapy treatment provided on the show has proved to be unbelievably successful with people making life long friends as well as making life changing steps after just three days of filming.

We are due to film on the 6th until the 8th of November. If you are interested in becoming our ninth/tenth contributor, please contact me on 02078747542 or Or e-mail me your number if you’d like to find a little bit more about the show.

Kind Regards,


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