When two of my children raced out onto a potentially busy road because they glimpsed a dog on the other side of the park I knew we had to do something before the problem had some serious repercussions.
So we got a dog. For free.
Jazz came to us as a solution to a problem, but has won our hearts. We found her on a freecycle site when she was nine months old. Her original owners paid $900 for her – she’s a pure Samoyed – but couldn’t keep her because their rental home wasn’t fenced. Hiding our kids from Jazz’s owners, we promised a good, loving home and passed their interview and brought her home.
Despite Jazz’s gentle nature it’s taken three months for the worse of my children’s fears to abate. For the first week the screaming would start three blocks from home and continue until we were safe inside with the doors all locked. There was also a month where we’d have to carry all the little kids from the house to the car because they refused to step outside where Jazz was, and I wondered if our strategy would work. But it did.
While our three year old still struggles to play on the balcony if Jazz is around, she does pat her and even cuddle her. It’s been truly wonderful to watch our kids tackle their fears and to see the pride in their faces when they achieve a milestone.
And as time consuming and stressful as it’s been at times, it’s worked; it’s cured them of their fear of dogs.
But we’re saving cats for another year.