It began when I was a small child...I had the most wonderful grandpa, who had the scariest dog!! Prince loved my grandpa and was wildly possessive. My grandpa always warned me to not reach out to Prince, or look him in the eye, so I was careful to keep my distance. I remember vividly an incident when my grandpa left the room, Prince inched toward me, and growled. That picture in my memory still makes me cringe! He had these terrifying freckles...that multiplied when he bared his teeth. My grandpa walked in to save me, just in the nick of time.
I remember another dog, a collie, who violently barked and attacked the fence each day as I walked to and from the bus stop. I was a teeny little five year old and I would carefully cross the street, so I could walk as far away as possible from that dog. I will never forget the absolute terror I felt one day, as I began to walk past that house and realized the gate was open. The dog started in on it's usual barking, then came through that gate and toward me across the street at lightning speed. I didn't even have time to run. It had that same nasty snarl as Prince, jumped up on me and knocked me down. A woman, the dog's owner, came rushing out with gigantic juice-can rollers in her hair and a cigarette hanging from her lips, and pulled the dog off of me. She picked me up, brushed me off, and with a snarl herself said, "Don't you dare tell your parents about this!" I ran off as fast as I could. Of course, my little kindergarten brain worked out a wonderful solution...I would use the NEXT stop, three blocks from my house, and I DEFINITELY would not tell my parents. It was less than a week, however, that I missed the bus. I was still so afraid of that dog and that horrible woman and didn't want to explain the truth to my parents, but they were able to get it out of me.
When Corbin and I were dating, we arrived at his parent's home late one night, after everyone had already gone to bed. Corbin had forgotten his key, so we went around to the back door to see if it was unlocked. Nope. Corbin told me to wait there, he would get the hidden key, open the front door, then let me in the back door. As soon as he left me, I saw a big black figure charging at me. I realized it was their family black lab, Coalie, just as she was jumping up onto my shoulders, growling and gnashing at my face. Corbin opened the door just as her teeth made contact with my cheek. Needless to say, I made Corbin take me home, and I stayed far, far away from that mean old dog for the rest of her life.
I had another dog incident that was so horrifying, I really do not speak of it. It involves a monster, truly, eating her own brand-new puppies, then trying to eat me. It happened when I was very sick and, at the suggestion of a church leader, trying to reach outside of myself to serve someone else. The incident set me far, far back in my healing and is an image that is cemented in my brain. I had nightmares for years.
So, you can only imagine my reaction five years ago when Corbin decided that he really wanted to get a dog. He knew all of these things about me and promised to be very selective. With that promise, and the excitement of our children, I mustered up courage and agreed. I was not part of the process. Corbin had a good friend from church, who was moving and needed to find a home for their dog. She was a great breed, a German Shorthair Pointer, three years old. The friend had rescued her from terrible circumstances at a puppy mill, and she had spent the past couple of years in their home with three little girls pulling on her ears. I did not go with my family to pick her up. But when they arrived home, something tugged a little at my heart. She was such a pretty dog, and a little bit shy because she didn't know us yet. Corbin let me choose a name for her...Stella. It seemed a perfect fit. For the next several months, Corbin kept her on a "short leash," she never left his side. He taught her, and loved her, and she quickly turned into a very well behaved little creature. All the while, my heart softened and I came to love her dearly.
Stella has these ears...oh, I love her ears! They are softer than velvet, and they move to express how she is feeling. When she REALLY wants something, she gives us her cute ears, which say, "Oh, please. Look how cute I am with my floppy ears. I know you can't say no to me! I'm too adorable! And I loooovvvveeee you!"
Stella has big, gorgeous brown eyes. When I'm sad, she puts her chin on my knee and looks at me with those precious eyes, "Stella loves you so much, please don't cry or Stella will cry!"
Stella loves EVERYONE. We often joke that if someone broke into our house, she would greet them at the front door, stubby little tail wagging the whole back half of her body and say, "Hi! I'm Stella and I love you! Let me show you where they keep the food. Will you share?!"
Stella thinks that she is a small dog, and loves to sit in my lap. She loves us all so much, and has brought so much joy into our lives. I look forward to getting home each day, opening the door, and being adored. It feels really good!
I still panic around dogs. But Stella has helped me to be able to take a deep breath and try to love them all. For that I am so thankful. But for the love she gives me and chunk of my heart that she occupies, I am crazy-thankful!