Twelve years ago tomorrow is the anniversary of me going all-in on overcoming one of my biggest life-long fears. But first, a little backstory.
When I was four years old, my then-two-year-old brother got bit by a very large dog. It tore into the side of his face, causing him to need multiple stitches and a whole lot of healing. He still has the scars to this day.
I watched this entire event happen right in front of my eyes from the safety of a hill across the way from where the dog was. The hill I attempted to get my brother to come hide with me behind, but he refused to listen.
He insisted on going over to pet the dog.
Well, this dog was eating a bone, and when my brother went over to pet it, the dog thought my brother was trying to take the bone away and he defended it. As a dog will, of course, do. Especially to a complete stranger.
At the time, I was too young to understand dogs and instinct and stuff like that. All I knew was, a dog had attacked my little brother. Made him bleed, made him need stitches, and made him cry a whole lot.
To say I was terrified of dogs, most especially the big ones, was an understatement.
I thought dogs were evil. I thought they were unpredictable beasts that could turn on you at any time. I wouldn’t even go into someone’s house growing up if there was a dog loose. I would ask them to put the dog away or I wouldn’t go in. I would literally have full-body anxiety when a dog was anywhere near me.
And then people in my life started getting dogs of their own. First my dad’s mom, and then, later on, my dad.
These were smaller dogs, and while I was still scared of them, it did show me that I could handle being around them if I was familiar enough with the dog.
Fast-forward a whole bunch of years and I’m in my early 20s living in Southern California and working as an editor for a pet magazines company. Every day, I would see dozens of pictures of the sweetest, most adorable dogs.
And then one day, I saw a picture of Actress, Blake Lively, carrying the cutest dog I had ever seen in my life. It was a Toy Maltipoo.
It got me thinking. I thought, “There’s no way something that tiny and cute could be evil.”
I had been afraid of dogs my entire life. Even the dogs in my life that belonged to other people I had a very distant relationship with. When I was around them, I could deal with it, but I wasn’t really going to pet them much or play with them or get too close.
I always kept them at arms-length. Until I realized, the only way to get over this fear is to face it head-on.
A thought had been brewing in my mind. It was of a male, red Toy Poodle. Looking through pictures of dogs, I knew that was the dog for me.
I spent a couple of years thinking about this, and then in 2008, I decided it was time to do it.
I was still pretty scared, but I knew the only way I would ever be able to get over that fear was to own a dog of my own. Not a family dog that belonged to someone else, but a dog that was all mine. One that I had to raise, I had to take care of, I had to play with and train and love.
I knew it was the only way.
It took a year to manifest the dog I wanted (I tell the whole story in my book, F*ck the How), but on May 22, 2009, he was finally born. The only male in a litter of three.
Eight weeks later, he came home to live with me, and we’re back to where I started this post.
Tomorrow is my Poodleversary. It’s the anniversary of the day I brought my male, red Toy Poodle, Weiland, home. The day he became mine.
I won’t go into all that happened while I spent that next year getting over my fear of dogs by raising this dog (that’s a story I’ll be sharing in a book one day). But what I will say is this–when you have a fear that you know is no longer serving you, the only way to overcome it is to face it head-on.
You have to look it in the eye. You have to go through the inner torment and pain it may cause. You have to face into and deal with and forgive and let go of the old memories and trauma that may resurface.
And if you do, you can overcome literally any fear you may have right now.
Continuing to allow my fear of dogs to keep me from owning a dog of my own would’ve been such a huge mistake. It would’ve been such a small, mediocre way for me to live.
It’s impossible for me to fully put into words the amount of love, joy, gratitude, and blessed-as-fuck-ness I feel having this dog in my life. Just the thought of it can bring me to tears in point-zero seconds.
I am so beyond grateful that he chose me, that we found each other. There’s not a better dog in the world for me. He is my doggie soulmate in every single way.
Raising this dog has taught me how to love so deeply and so unconditionally. It has taught me how to step outside of my comfort zone in so many ways. It allows me to live in and feel immense joy every day that we share together.
I know appreciation and gratitude on a whole different level because of this dog.
But NONE of that would be true right now if I hadn’t first decided to face into and overcome one of my biggest life-long fears.
Was it easy? Hell no! There were some days, some moments that were so tough it had me contemplating giving up altogether and selling him on Craig’s List.
But I continued to push through the inner pain and trauma. I continued to bulldoze the fears that came up time and time again. And I continued to believe that it would all be worth it.
Twelve years later, I can absolutely say that it was, and is, and always and forever will be.
One of the things I’m most proud of in my life is raising this dog. Not because he’s perfectly trained (far from it, ha!). But because of all I had to go through and overcome and release and surrender in order for him to become the amazing little doggie that he is today.
Whatever fears you’re still holding onto–rational or not–I promise you, there’s something even better on the other side. You just have to be willing to make the leap and face into the unknown.
P.S. Over those same 12 years, I’ve created and launched dozens of online products, courses, and programs that have just been sitting in my Dropbox vault. And very soon, you’re going to have the opportunity to get your hands on them again!! I am SO pumped about what’s to come for the Jennifer Blanchard empire. Stay tuned!!!
Dream life or bust,