I Was So Scared Of Dogs — Until I Met One Who Changed My Life
"Moose was silently supporting me, and it was exactly what I needed."
Some people might be surprised to hear I haven't always been a dog person. I've loved and cared for every dog my family has ever adopted. I've always liked puppies, and it's been one of my life goals to adopt a Great Pyrenees for some time.
Still, I've been afraid of dogs for most of my life. As a kid, I remember watching my neighbor's Siberian husky attack any stray kittens who dared to cross his path. When I was 7 years old, a different neighbor's dog killed my cat. Both of these dogs were consistently sweet to me, which only made their aggressive behavior that much more unsettling.
Suffice it to say, dogs and I didn't get off to a great start. In fact, I don't think I'd be a dog person right now if it weren't for Moose.
I remember the first time I saw him. He was standing next to my friend Izzy in the doorway of my college apartment - his silky, blonde, terrier hair glistening in the autumn sun. I remember that he didn't bark or charge indoors when he spotted the Maine coon cat who was resting by my feet. Even when the cat, Smuggz, hissed furiously at him, Moose stayed by Izzy's side, patiently waiting for all three of us to begin the road trip that Izzy and I had planned just hours before.
Though Moose was clearly uneasy about having angered Smuggz, he sat calmly on my welcome mat as I finished packing. Moose gave Smuggz the space he needed, and when we finally got on the road, he showed me the same courtesy. Moose was such an easygoing travel buddy that I actually forgot he was in the car at one point.
For the entire trip, whether we were on the highway or walking around the city, Moose kept his cool and always listened to Izzy's commands. I had never met a dog like him.
I don't remember seeing Moose for a couple of years after that, and when we did meet again, it wasn't under the happiest of circumstances. I had just packed up my half of my belongings and moved back home to figure things out after my first long-term relationship had failed. Moose and I were now living in the same town for the first time.
It had only been two days since my relationship ended, and I don't think I'd ever been more miserable. It was as confusing as it was painful, but Moose tried to make it better. I don't know if he could sense my aversion to dogs or if he gave me space for some other reason, but he didn't lick my face or even jump in my lap that day. Instead, he just sat by my feet as I focused all of my energy on not crying. Moose was silently supporting me, and it was exactly what I needed.
Over the next two and a half months, Moose would continue to help me heal. Shortly after I had moved, Izzy gave me an open invitation to work from her house any time I needed. I would write while Moose laid by my feet, and whenever I was feeling blocked, Moose would enthusiastically join me on my many mid-article walks. He was a constant for me when almost everything about my life was changing.
Still, it wasn't until later, when I'd left my hometown to try life in New York City, that I realized how much Moose had impacted me. I was walking to a bar in Greenwich Village when I saw an unaccompanied dog standing on the sidewalk. "Where is your person?" I heard myself say. The dog was clearly waiting for someone, and she didn't appear to be in any immediate danger, but I was still concerned for her. Did she feel abandoned? Scared? Ignored?
For the first time in my life, I was actively worried about the mental health of a dog who appeared to be in fantastic shape. Before I met Moose, I wouldn't have worried about a stranger's dog, and may have even been fearful. Now just thinking about the possible anxieties of someone else's dog pained me. I had become a dog lover without even realizing it, and it was all because of Moose.
Six months after my NYC adventure began, I left Brooklyn to move back home once more. I knew I'd left NYC for good reasons, but I couldn't help feeling disappointed in myself anyway. I'd never felt like a bigger failure, but Moose was there once again to help me cope.
This time, I didn't have to write from Izzy's place anymore, but I still saw Moose almost daily. We resumed our cuddle sessions and midday walks. He was always happy to see me, and the feeling was mutual.
Over the past year and a half, Moose has been there for me in a way that my friends and family simply couldn't be. Unlike my loved ones, Moose never needs me to explain why I'm feeling sad, anxious, blocked or stupid. He doesn't try to "fix" my problems for me, either. No matter what kind of day he's having, Moose is always there to silently support me when I need him to. He's even managed to befriend my cat. In fact, Moose and Smuggz have actually napped together a few times.
No matter how many dogs I meet, Moose will always be the one who made me a dog person. I love that little guy, and I am forever in his debt.