Wednesday, May 22, 2013


seen on TV @ TCM

One of the earliest memories I have of my life is hanging out at my grandmother's house in Florida. I was probably around two or so. She had a dog - I don't recall what kind - and it was in all likelihood the first dog I remember encountering. I didn't take very well to it for whatever reason. Maybe it tried to lick my face; maybe it barked a little too loudly for me; maybe this big hairy creature just freaked me the hell out in general. Regardless, two-year-old me panicked and ran away. I doubt I ran far, though; my parents found me before too long...

...but the damage was done. I grew up with a perhaps-irrational, but nonetheless-real paranoia of dogs. If I saw one coming down the street, I'd cross to the other side. I could not get within arms length of one, regardless of size, and it reached the point where I wondered if I needed psychiatric help.

I didn't, though. It literally was as easy as deciding that I was tired of living this way, and making a conscious decision to not be afraid of them anymore. Wasn't easy, and it took some time, but I somehow built up the inner strength to be calm(er) around them. Living in New York, one sees people walking dogs all the damn time! It was either get over my fear or move to Montana or someplace like that - so it's not like I had a choice in the matter.

Funny thing is, many of my friends, both in and out of the five boroughs, are cat people. I imagine it's easier to keep cats as pets than dogs. For instance, Vija had two different cats for many years, and she's even cat-sit for other people. She was very fond of her cats, and since she lives in a great big loft, they always had plenty of room to roam. Andi has a cat now, but she's also a huge dog-lover like you wouldn't believe. I can't go anywhere with her without her stopping to ogle over someone's dog on the street. It's kind of endearing, actually.

Reid has a dog that I've actually become comfortable around. I've only been to his apartment two or three times, but every time I've been there, I've been amazed at how relaxed I get around his fluffy blond dog (please don't ask me what types of dogs and cats these are; I couldn't begin to tell you). He told me once that his dog was trained as some type of caretaker dog for his father, so that might explain it, but I see this sort of thing as progress. I couldn't have done it when I was sixteen.

Sometimes I regret not having a dog as a pet growing up. I think I could've done a halfway decent job with one: I lived in a very suburban part of Queens, in a two-family home very close to a park, with neighborhood friends. If I recall correctly, our landlord didn't allow pets, so it wouldn't have happened regardless, but I might've gotten over my phobia of dogs a lot sooner if I had learned how to be around one on a daily basis. I'll never know. (They don't allow pets where I live now, either.)

I'm not quite sure why Sounder is named for the dog in the story; he's not that pivotal to the plot. Nor does he do any Lassie-like feats of heroism, which I kinda expected when I watched this. Still, it's a very sweet movie, the kind that doesn't get played enough on TV anymore. Watch it with your kids if you have any.

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