• J Mess


Something happened and now Nathan is terrified of Bailey.

When I was little my mother always used to tell the story about how the neighbor's little docile Collie dog bit our friend's daughter in the face. It's a truly heartwarming tale. The girl had apparently gotten too close up in the dog's face and just like that this poor, old, sweet dog became the vicious villain of family stories. "Well, you remember when the Berry's dog bit Rachel in the face right?" Yes how could I forget.

I sometimes wonder if this incident had anything to do with me not really being much of a dog person. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike dogs. But I am definitely not one of those people who enjoys having their face licked off by a slobbering canine and I do still get a little hesitant around large dogs who jump on me or sniff areas they probably shouldn't. I obviously much prefer the company of a quiet, mushy ball of feline fur.

Lately though I've noticed that Nathan is very scared around dogs. While I thought we'd had a breakthrough with our good friend's puppy Rue, who Nathan became the bestest of buds with one day, it seems we have somehow regressed. At a recent playdate, Nathan refused to be put down anywhere near our friend's dog Coco, and any time the dog came within 20 feet of him, he freaked out and started to hysterically cry. Even after multiple assurances that the dog could not possibly get him while he was sitting on the counter stool, he still shuddered every time Coco walked beneath his chair.

While I obviously don't want my biases to rub off on my son or for him to be afraid of or unnecessarily closed off to anything, I'm actually okay with him having a healthy respect for animals and if that means a little timidness and possibly fear, so be it. Animals are animals after all and when they feel scared or threatened, they react. Is that really their fault?

We need to learn how to properly interact with animals in a way that makes everyone happy and no one scared.

I was however surprised by Nathan's reactions to dogs considering we have a pet at home. Bailey is clearly not a dog, but he's a small furry creature who has ears and a tail and walks on all fours on the floor, so I figured to a 2 year old this was basically the same idea. And he was never scared of Bailey. In fact it had always been very much the other way around. Nathan had always been the aggressor, chasing Bailey everywhere and scaring him off, and even after we took Nathan to a cat cafe where a couple feisty felines gave him some warning swats, he would still endlessly torment Bailey. Until the other day.

We came home from a night out of town and Nathan was super excited to see "Cat cat." He began running around and Bailey began running away, pretty much the usual fare. But then all of a sudden after running into the dining room, Nathan did an immediate about-face and ran back into the kitchen screaming and terrified. I turned around and Bailey had appeared by the front stairs looking at me like "what is going on mom?" Something obviously happened, possibly involving the cat, because when Bailey tried to come into the kitchen where Nathan was standing, Nathan began to back away and scream louder.

I have no idea what happened, all I know is Nathan is now terrified of our sweet cat. And it's not like I had any reliable witnesses to consult during my investigation. The only two parties involved were one toddler and one cat. Neither of them being extremely excellent communicators. I racked my brain for possible scenarios. Did Bailey rise up on his hind legs like a tiger and roar at Nathan? Did he hiss or spit? Did he take a swing at him? Did he happen to just come around the other way into the dining room at the exact perfect moment to scare the bejeezus out of Nathan? Was Bailey even in the dining room at all, because he appeared by the stairs almost immediately after the alleged incident and looked pretty innocent to me. But I guess I'm not a really impartial judge either.

It's now been over a week of Nathan's weird aversion to our cat and I don't know what to do. I've tried many different tactics. I've apologized on Bailey's behalf. I've told Nathan that Bailey just wants to be his friend. I've told Nathan that Bailey honestly couldn't care less about him and isn't going to "get him." I've told Nathan that Bailey is actually way more scared of him than he is of Bailey. I've picked Bailey up so Nathan could see his face and tried to encourage a reconciliation. Nothing has worked. So yesterday I just flat out asked Nathan what happened. "Did cat cat scare you?" He shook his head yes. Well then By George, it was Mr. Bailey in the dining room with the candlestick. Case closed...


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