As a child, I was attacked by a German Shepherd: not a human herder of sheep, but a wolf-sized bundle—four feet, fur, and fangs. Especially fangs.

Walking from the bus stop with my mother after a shopping expedition, I was at peace with the world, chattering about something or nothing.

There was no warning: not a snarl or a growl, not even a bark.

A huge beast charged out through an open gate and leaped up at me.

I recoiled, raising my arm to protect my face, dropping my shopping bag, ignoring the shattering of whatever fragile item my mother had bought.

I peered into those vast, gaping jaws as they soared up at me, frame-by-frame in a time-distorted bubble, seeing teeth bared and saliva dribbling.


Teeth buried in my arm.

Maybe it was my scream, maybe it was my mother swinging her shopping bag at it, but the beast turned tail and fled, leaving me a quivering, sobbing wreck clinging to my mother.

Parallel gashes ran from shoulder to wrist.

I thank my mother for equipping me with a baggy-sleeved windcheater. It was trashed. My arm took little damage. A few stitches sealed my wounds.

But horror scarred my brain and still echoes in my memories of that day.

The police said it was only a second attack. It needed three to be declared a danger. I pity the third person it attacked.

So I moved forward in time, grew bigger, grew older, and was given more opportunities to interact with dogs.

As a part-time London taxi driver, I twice rang doorbells to face sets of fangs leaping at me when the doors opened. Nothing serious, but I lost two nights’ earnings waiting in hospitals for tetanus jabs. Neither owner apologized … and neither gave me a tip!

Over the years, and so many times, I’ve heard the cry, “He won’t bite”, as some pooch charges at me, snarling, triggered by the scent of my fear. A quick nip at my lower leg and a rapid scutter away before I could land a kick. Then comes the refrain, “Well, he’s never done that before!”

Yeah? Well, he’s done it now!

So ask me again why I suffer from Cynophobia, a fear of dogs!

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