Monday, April 11, 2005

Dog-gone it

Bud is terrified of dogs. As those of you who live with and love people on the spectrum may know, I am not talking about anxiety. I'm not even talking about fear. This is terror.

Here's the thing. We live in a quiet neighborhood in small, rural town where people keep pretty much to themselves. We nod to our neighbors as they drive by, but we don't really know them. Most people in our neighborhood have dogs, and though there is technically a leash law I'm not sure that any of them own leashes. The dogs, though for the most part gentle, roam freely throughout the neighborhood. None of us have fences, so there's nothing keeping the dogs in their yards or out of ours.

You see where this is going. This winter on a beautiful sunny day we bundled up to play in the snow. After a few minutes of fun, one of the neighborhood dogs wandered into our yard and Bud pretty much got hysterical. I've been able to get him outside to play once since then, only by swearing on my life that we would come inside the instant we caught sight of a dog. We lasted about 15 minutes before he heard a dog bark and insisted that we go inside.

Now that the days are getting longer and the air is getting warmer, I really want him to be able to go out and play in a dog-free yard. I want to write a letter to our neighbors to ask for their help, but I'm not sure how much to tell them. Do I tell them he's autistic? Is that an invasion of his privacy? Will they take it seriously if I don't include that fact? And what about the mystery neighbors who live down the long driveway, don't pay their community water bill, and whose dog is a scary part pit-bull? What kind of reaction will we get from them?

I feel like this is something I really need to do for Bud, but at the same time it makes me feel very vulnerable and somehow exposed.


Suzanne said...

Totally dig the coffee addiction thing. Go talk to your neighbors, if they don't know him, bring a pic. Ask them if they wouldnt mind and let them know of his issues in the simples terms. Let them know you would appreciate it. go go go. Check out my blog at, would love to hear your comments, new and still developing.

Anonymous said...

I think you might be more successful if you help Bid get over his fear of dogs. You can't visit every dog owner on earth and ask them to keep their dogs inside. You can't even visit everyone in your town. If hearing a dog bark is enough to send him into a tailspin I recommend desensitizing him a little bit at a time. Show him a picture of a puppy in a book about baby animals and work up to letting him see a tiny new puppy. When they're very small they don't bark and they certainly don't jump. An older, very well-behaved dog on a leash wouldn't seem to scary after he's had some exposure to unthreatening dogs. Dogs can be wonderful companions for kids. I'd hate to see him ruled by fear. Plus, I doubt your neighbors will all react positively to keeping their dogs on leashes or confined behind fences.