A bit of back story: I've always been a dog-lover. I had dogs throughout my childhood. I even had one when C and I were dating. That's a story in and of itself. Let me just say that a decision to adopt a lab/pit bull mix should not be made after a night of drinking Tequila. Actually, that particular night I ended up with a dog and knocked up. Yes, that was a memorable night indeed. That damn dog ate everything from a bottle of prenatal vitamins which, on Christmas Eve had me desperately trying to contact animal poison control in a panic - and the only thing the dog suffered was an extra shiny coat. This dog also ate OUR HOUSE (I kid you not. He chewed all the stucco off the side of the condo we were renting at the time) and our YARD. Eventually, we had to give the dog away due to all the damage he inflicted on our condo, and the fact that as it turns out my kids are allergic to dogs. Don't worry, I assure you we found him a good home (which is far better than the one he came close to getting in Heaven). So anyway, we gave up the dog before my son was old to remember that we ever even had one.
Anyhoo, a couple of summers ago we went back East to visit C's family and decided to take a trip to the Philadelphia Zoo, as the kids had never been to a zoo before. All was fine and good aside from the 100 degree heat with humidity (I'm from the desert people. It's hot here, but it's not generally humid, and we have freakin' air conditioning everywhere). Anyway, when we sat down to eat our lunch, we were accosted by a giant herd or flock or whatever you call it of geese (I guess geese just randomly wander the Philly Zoo - maybe this is normal for zoos, I don't know), and let me tell you they were aggressive. In Philly, geese don't politely request that you toss a few crumbs their way Good Sir. No they get downright ghetto about it and demand that you give up the goods, motherfucker! And these geese were nasty. They had some sort of mucus emanating from their geese nostrils (germ phobe alert!). Anyway, the geese were practically charging us and, well a flock of geese forcibly snatching my son's hot dog from his tiny hand with their evil pestilence-covered beaks was understandably terrifying to my then three year old. My husband and his friend successfully chased the geese away (but then some idiots decided to start feeding them part of their lunch, which brought them right back).
But anyway, that marked the conclusion of "The Geese Incident." It was, however, just the beginning of "The Zoo Incident," as we still refer to it to this very day. You see, the zoo does not allow straws on the premises because the animals can ingest them and die or something (I'm no zoo expert. I don't know.) But if you recall, it was about 100 degrees out and apparently I failed parenting 101 and never taught my kids how to drink out of a cup like normal people do, because Maggie wouldn't drink out of a cup without a straw that would enable her to suck "sippie cup style." Well this prompted the temper tantrum of the century. A temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums. This child wailed the entire way to the car (she had to be carried of course, as her back was arched, her face red from all the screaming. I worried that someone would think that we were abducting her, but then with the way she was carrying on, who would even want this kid I wondered?). She continued to scream non-stop for about 45 long minutes as we drove through downtown Philadelphia, screeching and frothing at the mouth. Recently when recalling "The Zoo Incident," the friend that accompanied us to the zoo told me that he had never in his life heard a kid scream like Maggie did that day. I'm fairly certain that "The Zoo Incident" single-handedly affirmed his decision to remain single and child-free for life.
But to return to the issue of the dog phobia, it became obvious to the hubs and me shortly after our return home from Pennsylvania that our son seemed to have developed an irrational fear of all animals, including even the very smallest of dogs, ON LEASHES, as well as cats which he believes to be dogs I think. We know this because when people innocently bring their pooch to the little park by our house my son has been known to loudly shout things like, "This is MY park! Tell that dog to GO HOME!" or better yet, "I HATE dogs!" Yes, we're so very proud of our anti-social animal-hater. My husband and I have tried on numerous occasions to explain to the boy that a) that's rude, b) it's not his park, and c) an animal the size of a gerbil on a leash is incapable of spontaneously mauling him. It just is. But this has been to no avail. There have been times when my six year old has literally jumped into my arms while shrieking uncontrollably to escape the immanent danger that he believes a Chihuahua poses him. Yes, my son is "that kid."
I think when it's all said and done, this pretty much says it all: This is a page from my son's school journal. It reads "A good pet would be a red fish." This makes sense to me seeing as how he hasn't had any unfortunate incidents with fish. Yet. I think his teacher's response of "That is a good idea!" is kind of funny. Perhaps she too has had a dog that ate her house. Either that, or she's witnessed my son's behavior around dogs and is saying "A fish IS the ideal pet for a freak like you. Your parents must be crack-dealing pedophiles."
A fish is the pet my son prefers.
*Update: Just yesterday some poor lady brought a dog to school when she came to pick up her kid - the dog was in in her purse by the way, so it was not a large threatening animal by any stretch of the imagination. When my son saw the dog he pointed to the sign posted on the side of the school that says "No Dogs Permitted On School Property" and said (loudly mind you), "That sign says no dogs here! Why does that lady have a dog? I HATE dogs!" Okay, now I'm embarrassed.