Fear of Dogs

I am a lover of dogs.  We have been dog owners for most of our lives.  At this moment in our lives we are not.  We are the proud grandparents of  3 granddogs!   I adore them.  One of the dogs is a puppy that I want to bring home and call my own.  My entire family knows that I long to have a golden retriever. I have been begging for one for months.   You might wonder why I have a hankering for such a big dog.  Well…here’s the story.

Twenty-some years ago my family lived in Louisville, Kentucky.   My husband was pastoring 2 churches in rural Indiana.  One afternoon we were having a leisurely lunch at a parishoner’s home.  The boys were in the yard playing with the family’s children.  Suddenly our older son came dashing into the house in great distress to inform us that our younger son had been attacked by the family’s dog.  It was a severe dog bite.  We had to be transported to the Louisville Children’s Hospital which was an hour away, where an extraordinary plastic surgeon did a miraculous job on our son.

The event was horrific!.  Our son had been reaching down to pet the dog and the animal attacked him.   We were a family with 2 dogs and a cat and our kids knew to stay away from strange dogs, but this was a family dog in the back yard.  It was confusing and hard to fathom.  For a while I hated dogs.  I was angry, and hurt.  Our son was traumatized by the entire incident.    Not only was the bite difficult, but going to school and having to explain about being bit on the face and about all of his stitches was tough.  We had only lived in Louisville for a less than a year, and so he hadn’t had time to make a lot of friends.  Some of the kids in his class were not very encouraging and would embarrass him by making unkind comments.  It was rough going for a while.

One overcast day our son came home from school with a companion.  I was quite taken aback by this huge, hairy creature, who looked as big as a lion, yet his big brown eyes and wagging tail showed me he was as gentle as a teddy bear.   Our son began retelling the scenario of what had happened.  He had gotten off of the school bus. There was a huge golden retriever waiting at the bus stop.   As be began to walk home, the dog followed him home.  Our son immediately fell in love with the dog.  The golden retriever was the epitome of love and kindness, as docile as could be.  But, we knew that he had to belong to someone, even though he had no tags.  We searched and searched for his owner, but could not find him, so we decided to keep the dog.  Our son named him, Ralph.  Ralph was our healing angel from the Lord.  The Lord sent Ralph to bring healing to our son and to me from the shadows of fear and pain to the light of God’s amazing grace.

Sometimes we go through a painful situation and because it is so difficult we feel as if God has forgotten us.  Remember that He never promised us that living in this world would be easy.  In fact, He said the opposite.  He said that in this world we would have tribulations, but to take courage, for He has overcome the world.  He would be with us through every storm.  He would be there to encourage us, to strengthen us, to guide us, to counsel us, to help us in every way, to even carry us when we can’t take another step.  For our son, He sent an angel dog when the going got rough.

“I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”  states Isaiah 49:16

Now it is important to have boundaries with strange dogs.  Here are some resources that you may have interest in:

How to Conquer Your Fear of Dogs

Seven Ways to Encourage a Child Not to Fear Dogs

Canine Concerns – How to Help Children Who Fear Dogs

May God keep you in the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith


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